POSTED BY: Bowzer
If you ask any twenty-something what their favorite TV shows were as a kid, nearly 100% of all respondents will include Saved by the Bell on their list. When I think about the cast of that show, I learned so much from each of them during my childhood. Kelly Kapowski was my first crush, and she set the expectations for my first girlfriend way too high. Jessie Spano taught me at a very young age that chicks can be a lot to put with, and yet you will do it anyway just to have a girl at the end of the day/episode. Zach Morris was pretty much my fucking idol. Screech Powers showed me that sometimes nerds can actually bring something to the table. A.C. Slater trained me in the art of sitting backwards in a chair to look cool. Lisa Turtle made me realize the importance of being really good friends with rich people. And I know for a fact that every single one of you was dissapointed as shit when you started 9th grade and found out that high school in real life was NOTHING like life at Bayside High.
There are so many classic episodes of Saved by the Bell that it’s tough to choose just one as my favorite. However, to me one episode has always stood out in my mind: “The Last Dance.” There were just so many life lessons to be extracted from this episode. I’m not going to retell the entire story in great detail, so I’ll just summarize it for you. Bayside High is having a costume ball, and Zach and Kelly are obviously going together. Kelly really needs some extra cash, so she decides to take a job at The Max. Her boss is this guy, Jeff, who is some asshole douche bag college guy that starts hooking up with Kelly. Now Kelly starts liking Jeff, and starts acting weird towards Zach. After winning King and Queen of the costume ball, Zach and Kelly go outside and talk. Kelly admits she is seeing Jeff, breaks up with Zach, and the two share one last dance as Slater and Jessie lip-synch “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.” The now broken-up couple embrace and say one last tearful goodbye to one another as the credits roll.
“The Last Dance” is full of genuine life lessons that have served me well in my trials and tribulations with the opposite sex:
There Is Always Some Asshole Douche Bag Like Jeff Waiting In The Wings: Even Zach Morris is capable of having his girl scooped up by “some dude” (who happens to bear a striking resemblance to John Stamos). Always be on the lookout for potential threats to your relationships, guys and girls. If you are dating a Kelly Kapowski, you can be sure that there will be dudes lining up around the block for a crack at your girlfriend. No one is saying be some possessive, controlling jerkface. That kind of behavior just invites vultures like Jeff to swoop in and steal your Kelly. Just recognize who your social rivals are and don’t fall asleep at the wheel while speeding down the highway of love.
If Your Girlfriend Is Acting Weird, There Is Usually A Reason For It: As a general rule, people are not very good liars, especially when having to lie to someone you have spent a lot of time with. If your girlfriend starts acting distant (balking at attending social events she normally relishes, making constant excuses to avoid seeing you, being a total bitch to you at the costume ball), then you have to confront the situation. Pull her aside and really talk to her; her eyes will always be a dead giveaway. Kelly broke down as soon as Zach took her outside, looked her in the eyes, and asked her what the hell was going on. The truth will inevitably follow, as painful as it may be.
The Fact That It Feels Like It’s Going To Last Forever Doesn’t Mean Shit: When I watched this episode as a kid, I couldn’t believe it. Zach and Kelly…broken up? They were the perfect couple! I honestly thought that they would be together forever (or until the show was cancelled, whichever came first). This is a tough lesson to learn, and it’s one that we all had to struggle with after that first love got away from us. Love always feels like forever. The truth is, every relationship in your lifetime (except for the last one) is doomed to fail. Plan accordingly.
Take The Breakup Like A Man: You will notice that in this episode Zach remains a complete gentleman throughout this whole ordeal. He never becomes a foaming, jealous maniac. He doesn’t scream at Kelly and call her a “bitch” (or worse) when she delivers the bad news to him. It’s okay to express your disappointment, but don’t devolve into a man with no class. The last thing you want to do is to make a spectacle of the whole thing. Try to put the complete emotional breakdown on hold until after she leaves. Even if the relationship is now over, at least if you conduct yourself with the utmost dignity, the cheater’s shame will eat at them like a parasite. Zach does an excellent job here of maintaining his cool, considering the circumstances.
“The Last Dance” isn’t an episode that stuck with me because of its humor (just the usual lame Screech gags in this one). It has remained my favorite because the emotions between the characters are so raw and real: love, lust, betrayal, shame, jealousy, sadness, confusion, heartbreak. It’s all there, and even as a kid I was moved by the intensity of the emotion woven within this usually light-hearted teen sitcom. It taught me a lot about the harsh realities of love and gave me some great advice that remains valuable to me today in my mid-twenties.
Now here’s the part where I ask the readers of Put Up Your Dukes for a little participation. What is your favorite Saved by the Bell episode? What life lessons did this awesome TV show give you that have stuck with you into your adult life? Or am I just completely nuts for looking way too deep into a fucking Saved by the Bell episode?
If you would like to see “The Last Dance” in its entirety for free, click here. For a full recap of “The Last Dance” episode, click here. To find out what all of your favorite characters from Bayside High are up to these days, click here.
[epsiode screenshots taken from Truveo]