When news first hit that Saved by the Bell was being reimagined for Peacock streaming subscribers, even the most hardcore fans wondered how such an inherently ‘90s Saturday morning sitcom could work as a modern-day comedy. But it absolutely did work, and showrunner Tracey Wigfield & Co.’s embrace of on-screen diversity (and O.G. series callbacks) has played a big role in how successful and increasingly hilarious its two seasons have been so far. To the point where the first higher-tier award that Peacock’s Saved by the Bell has earned so far was the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Comedy Series! And the competition was as fierce as it gets, too.
During the 2022 GLAAD Awards, Saved by the Bell was nominated against some other truly brilliant shows from the past year, and it certainly wasn’t a sure thing that the high school comedy would come away with the win for Outstanding Comedy Series. Just check out some of these other hopeful that SBTB was up against:
- Dickinson (Apple TV+)
- Gentefied (Netflix)
- Love, Victor (Hulu)
- The Other Two (HBO Max)
- Sex Education (Netflix)
- Shrill (Hulu)
- Special (Netflix)
- Twenties (BET)
- Work in Progress (Showtime)
The fact that 8 out of the 10 nominees were from streaming services, with the two linear TV shows being from BET and Showtime, is about as telling as it gets when it comes to how widespread LGBTQ+ comedies are on broadcast and cable. But I digress. (No, Jamie, I didn’t say digest.) Check out Peacock’s celebratory Twitter post below.
Did someone say Saved by the Bell won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series?! pic.twitter.com/Elrw4hyHysApril 3, 2022
To be sure, this isn’t the first time that Saved by the Bell was nominated for a GLAAD Award, as its debut streaming season was also nominated. But this is the year it earned the win, with Season 2 definitely branching out with its LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, with star and executive producer Josie Totah at (or near) the center of it all as the all-superior Lexi. The actress came out as a trans woman in 2018, with Saved by the Bell as her first big career-shifting gig following the transition. So it has to feel amazing for Totah to have Saved by the Bell being recognized for the kinds of social messages that never would have been addressed in the original series.
Speaking of the Bayside queen, Josie Totah was on-hand and looking Lexi-approved for the GLAAD red carpet, as seen in the appreciative Instagram post below:
Not only did Season 2 give Lexi and Jamie’s relationship more grounding, in as much as anything involving Jamie can be grounded — no, you’re not grounded, Jamie — but Lexi also attempted to create the Hamilton of transphobia-addressing musicals. Other characters were also given time to shine by way of expressing their various sexualities. For instance, Alycia Pascual-Peña’s bisexual Aisha found a new romantic interest in Ariela Barer’s Chloe, who heads up Bayside’s LGBTQ club dubbed PRISM. Though that obviously doesn’t happen without all the foibles of young love and being comfortable with such things in public. I’m also hoping for a Spencer-fronted series of spinoff shorts, with Abraham Rodriguez’s resident drama clubber putting it all on display.
While it’s obviously not possible to know exactly why the GLAAD Awards chose Saved by the Bell to win for Oustanding Comedy this year, it’s possibly partially due to how much the show stands out from so many other LGBTQ+ storylines. Rather than focusing on traumas and more aching emotions, SBTB keeps things positive and silly, and without putting a big spotlight on such elements unless a storyline organically calls for it.
Similar to how things went in the ’90s, Saved by the Bell‘s GLAAD-friendly moments weren’t really displayed by the original cast members such as the seemingly ageless Mark-Paul Gosselaar, the also seemingly ageless Tiffani Thiessen, the equally ageless Mario Lopez, and so on. But while it might not be geared for LGBTQ+ relevance, Elizabeth Berkley deserves some kind of award for paying homage to Showgirls in Season 2, amirite?
Saved by the Bell’s first two revival seasons, along with all the O.G. seasons and spinoffs, are available to stream on Peacock. While waiting to hear about Season 3, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are popping up in the near future.