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Why Showgirls' Elizabeth Berkley Was Cool With Referencing The Cult Classic In Saved By The Bell Season 2

Jessie Spano looks shocked in the trailer for Saved by the Bell Season 2.
(Image credit: Peacock)

Elizabeth Berkley dropped some jaws after the original run of Saved by the Bell ended in 1992, as the actress who’d been known for years as ahead-of-her-time-feminist Jessie Spano took her career in the polar opposite direction by starring in Showgirls. The 1995 movie directed by Paul Verhoeven has gone down as a “so bad it’s good” cult classic, but it’s been a touchy subject for Berkley, who faced harsh criticism in the aftermath of its release. That’s why it was surprising to see Berkley gamely referencing the movie in the trailer for Season 2 of Peacock’s reimagined Saved by the Bell.

In Peacock’s Saved by the Bell, Elizabeth Berkley reprised her iconic role, with Jessie now serving as Bayside High’s guidance counselor, and Berkley recently spoke about how the writers approached her with the idea to include some Showgirls references in the new season. The actress has been careful in the past to not allow the character to be disrespected, but told ET that she still has a sense of humor about it.

We definitely had a lot of fun. Tracey and [writer] Yamara Taylor approached me pretty early on... and they said, ‘We have this idea.’ And Tracey was like, ‘I don’t know how you’ll feel about it but would you be game to explore this?’ I don’t want to give too much away, so people can see it for themselves. But I said to her, ‘Well, as you’re getting to know me, you know that I have a great sense of humor. As long as we’re not mocking it but actually that it is truly funny and smart. It is the only way I know how to do things.’

If the trailer is any indication, those moments are going to pay off big for both longtime fans of Saved by the Bell and anyone who’s seen Showgirls. (And if you haven’t, what have you even been doing with your life?) Elizabeth Berkley went on to say she went from okay with it to being fully on board when the writers came back to her with the script, saying this about her reaction:

‘I’m in. We’ve got to do this.’ I knew it was going to be good.

Elizabeth Berkley played Showgirls' Nomi Malone, an over-the-top wannabe showgirl who hitchhikes into Las Vegas and finds herself in over her head as she tries to make it in the world of exotic dancing, while also proving she is not a prostitute. It looks like Jessie Spano pulls a couple of those Nomi moves out of her back pocket for Saved by the Bell Season 2, in which Jessie is going through a divorce. Fans of the ‘90s series are certainly wondering if she’ll rekindle the romance she had decades ago with Mario Lopez’s A.C. Slater, who is now Bayside’s football coach. Check out some of those moves in the trailer below!

In fact, while the new series still focuses on the younger generation that includes Zack and Kelly’s son Mac, Jessie’s son Jamie, as well as new characters unrelated to the original gang like Daisy Jimenez (played by Haskiri Velazquez), it looks like we’ll see quite a bit of the OG characters. Season 2 will even pay homage to Dustin Diamond, who died in February after battling cancer, because no full-fledged Saved by the Bell reunion would be complete without Screech

Saved by the Bell Season 2 is just around the corner, premiering on Peacock on Wednesday, November 24. Be sure to check out our 2021 TV Schedule to see what else is coming through the end of the year.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.