Many fans are not happy with the Saved By the Bell reboot, after the new show made a joke about Selena Gomez‘s kidney transplant. Yep, the series has received some major backlash online, especially after Francia Raisa — who was the one to donate her kidney to the singer — slammed them.
What Did The Show Say About Selena Gomez’s Kidney?
During an episode of the recently released remake, which aired on November 25, 2020, on Peacock, two characters could be seen arguing over which star donated their kidney to the “Rare” songstress back in 2017, after she faced complications from her auto-immune disease lupus. One suggested it was the mother of her ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber, while the other claimed it was her former BFF, Demi Lovato. As fans know, however, it was Raisia who risked her life and gave Gomez an organ.
“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it,” the character said, with the other student replying, “Prove what? That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.”
Saved by the Bell, that's disgusting. Selena almost lost her life, jokes about her kidney transplant is NOT FUNNY. Respect Selena Gomez. pic.twitter.com/c8AZbsU1m0— Selena Charts (@selenachartsbr) November 28, 2020
Later on in the episode, the words “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” could be seen graffitied onto the wall.
a tv show called "saved by the bell" has "does selena gomez even have a kidney?" written on the wall. this is so disgusting and unnecessary. selena doesn't deserve this.— ً (@jndoIIs) November 28, 2020
RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ pic.twitter.com/u7IcPX8NqV
Fans Were Not Happy With Their Joke
Naturally, upon seeing the episode, many fans took to Twitter to share their distaste.
“Using what Selena Gomez went through for entertainment is blatantly insensitive and wrong,” one person wrote. “What she went through was real and it wasn’t easy. It’s so incredibly disgusting seeing it be used as a joke for entertainment. RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ.”
using what selena gomez went through for entertainment is blatantly insensitive and wrong. what she went through was real and it wasn't easy. it's so incredibly disgusting seeing it be used as a joke for entertainment. RESPECT SELENA GOMEZ pic.twitter.com/NTD9Jr8tUh— shelley (@selgofetish) November 28, 2020
Another fan added, “@peacockTV we demand an apology to @selenagomez for making fun of Selena’s health issues. 5M — 10M people die from kidney diseases every year. Serious health issues should never be a joke. Stop using Selena’s struggles for profit for your flop show.”
@peacockTV we demand an apology to @selenagomez for making fun of Selena’s health issues. 5M - 10M people die from kidney diseases every year! It’s disgusting that you would think this is funny to joke about when it’s not You guys couldn’t think of anything better 🤦♀️— Juicy J (@jMAC91) November 29, 2020
Peacock Apologized To Selena Gomez
In a statement to Variety, the network apologized to the former Disney actress.
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” they said. “We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”
But Francia Raisa Was Not Amused
Although Gomez hasn’t spoken out about the situation herself, Raisa had a lot to say about it.
“Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall,” she responded on Twitter. “As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!”
Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall https://t.co/HIwa30PKMM— Francia Raisa (@franciaraisa) November 28, 2020
As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued! 🙏🏽— Francia Raisa (@franciaraisa) November 28, 2020
What Exactly Is Lupus?
According to Lupus.org, Lupus is a “chronic (long-term) disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system — the body system that usually fights infections — attacks healthy tissue instead.” It can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
What Has Selena Gomez Said About Her Kidney Transplant?
After her surgery, the Wizards of Waverly Place alum took to Instagram to speak about the experience.
“I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering. It was what I needed to do for my overall health,” Gomez wrote at the time. “I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you. Until then I want to publicly thank my family and incredible team of doctors for everything they have done for me prior to and post-surgery. And finally, there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made.”
The 28-year-old also opened up about the moment she realized she needed a kidney transplant during an interview with People Magazine.
“After undergoing so many tests to monitor my kidneys my doctors told me I have lupus nephritis, one of those complications from lupus. They said I would be needing a kidney transplant,” she shared. “Maybe I wasn’t necessarily really good at knowing what that meant so it actually got to a point where it was life-or-death. Thankfully, one of my best friends gave me her kidney and it was the ultimate gift of life. And I am doing quite well now.”
What Else Has She Said About The Disease?
Gomez opened up about her diagnosis for the first time to the public in 2015, one year after she found out that she had lupus. And when she was asked why she kept her battle with the disease a secret at first, the brunette beauty explained to Billboard, “I think it was just very complicated because I didn’t understand and then that was something that I did want to keep private until my whole life suddenly wasn’t private.”
She added that she wanted to wait until she was in the right head space to tell the world.
“I waited for the right time to talk about it because I am in a great place, and I’m very healthy. I’m not trying to be loud about it: It was time to use my platform to help,” Gomez continued.
And during a 2016 interview, she also explained how the illness has effected her mental health.
“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” the singer said.
What Is The New ‘Saved By The Bell’ Reboot About?
According to the official synopsis, Zack Morris is now the governor of California, and he “gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools and proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state, including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the overprivileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality.”
Josie Totah, Haskiri Velazquez, Mitchell Hoog, Dexter Darden, John Michael Higgins, Alycia Pascual-Pena and Belmont Cameli are playing the new students, but that’s not all. Yep, even though it follows a new group of students, a bunch of the original stars have returned to play their old characters, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar (who portrayed Zack Morris), Elizabeth Berkley (who fans may recognize as Jessie Spano), Tiffani Thiessen (she played Kelly Kapowski) and Mario Lopez (who we all know as A.C. Slater).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Totah’s character is “a beautiful, sharp-tongued cheerleader and the most popular girl at Bayside High, who is both admired and feared by her fellow students.” The Wrap reported that Velazquez is playing Daisy, “a smart, ambitious sophomore who is excited at the prospect of attending Bayside High after her local school gets shut down.” Pascual-Pena is playing Aisha, “Daisy’s fun-loving, but ultra-competitive best friend. She grew up playing on boys’ sports teams and causes a stir when she tries to play football at Bayside.” As for Higgins, he is playing Principle Toddman.