In front of Saved by the bell‘s Jessie Spano, giving in to a “bad idea” could ultimately make her happy in a way her marriage to the insufferable Rene never did.
Midway through season 2 of Peacock’s Saved by the bell revival, Kelly suggests it’s kismet that a recently divorced Jessie and the still-single Slater happen to be working together in Bayside, nearly 30 years after their high school romance spiraled out of control. Jessie insists she no longer thinks about Slater’s ass – er, about… Slater that way, but as fate would have it, season 2 culminates in a passionate kiss between the excited guidance counselor and the dim-witted gym teacher, sparking a potential romance in season 3. (Their kiss, to all of you OG Clock fans, is accompanied by the Zack Attack classic “Did We Ever Stand a Chance.”)
For portraitists Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Mario Lopez, reliving Jessie and Slater’s relationship as adults feels different. It’s unreal, to begin with, but there is also a shared history from screen that responds to their dynamics On screen.
“We have our driver’s licenses together. We became famous together. Our dreams came true together, while our parents were all on set watching us because we weren’t 18 yet,” Lauren tells TVLine in the video Q&A above. “Mario and I, we always had a close, like best friend dynamics – like, buddy buddy, always have each other’s backs, and always have been all these years.”
Lopez adds, “You have to understand that we’ve known each other since we were 15. She’s like a sister to me and we laugh all the time,” he says. “It’s almost like you’re looking at her, like you’re doing a romantic scene with your sister…. It was funny for us, but it’s nice to revisit that storyline.”
To make the current relationship between Jessie and Slater believable to the public, Slater had to grow up a bit. The emotionally stunted lughead already reckoned with his chauvinistic past during Season 1. And in Season 2, he begins therapy to work through some of his childhood trauma. During a particularly funny scene in episode 6, he talks about his relationships with his father, Major Martin Slater; a mother, Lorraine, who was mentioned during the original series but never appeared on screen; a sister, JB, whom he only saw once; and the loss of his pet chameleon, Artie.
“It’s great to play a man who is lagging behind in his emotional growth and also flawed,” says Lopez. “That’s a lot of fun to play as an actor, and I’ve always loved seeing people in real life kind of stuck in their time. I find them fascinating… they don’t want to let go. I think Slater is kind of like that, and the fact that he can flex those emotional muscles and start recognizing some of the areas he needs to work on is cool. If he had it all going on, there’s nothing interesting about that.”
Whether the current Slater and Jessie can make a relationship work, Lopez isn’t so sure.
“I mean, she just got out of a marriage,” he notes. “I don’t want to look like a home breaker, or a resurrection relationship, do I? And if we connect, where should we go? So I guess I’ll have to trust the writers assuming we’re lucky enough to get another season, but it was fun while we had fun with it this season.”