Just a few days after Peacock brought audiences back to Bayside High, the Saved by the Bell reboot has come under fire on social media. The revival of Saved by the Bell jokes about Selena Gomez's 2017 kidney transplant, and her fans are incensed at what they feel are "unnecessary" comments mocking the singer's health. Their calls for the writers to "Respect Selena Gomez" became a trending topic on Twitter and even led to an apology from the NBCUniversal streaming service.
Two scenes from the new series in particular have earned the most ire from Selenators. In one, two students argue over the identity of Gomez's kidney donor, even though she revealed in 2017 that her donor was friend Francia Raisa. "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 I could prove it," a character says, while arguing with another in the halls of Bayside High. "Prove what? That you’re an idiot?" the friend fires back. "It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were." In another scene, "Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?" appears to be spray painted on the wall in the school's hallway.
"The show-runners should’ve known how tone deaf and insensitive to lupus survivors it was," one Twitter user wrote in part.
"Wtf is wrong with this show and it’s obsession with Selena's health??? this is so disgusting and unnecessary," another added, tagging the reboot's creator, Tracey Wigfield, and the streaming service Peacock in her post.
The outrage prompted Peacock to respond. The streamer issued a statement on Saturday, Nov. 28, apologizing and announcing it had reached out to the singer herself. "We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena's health," the statement said, per People. "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."
In September 2017, Gomez revealed that she underwent a kidney transplant due to complications from lupus. She gave an update on her health in an emotional Instagram post and also thanked Raisa for being her donor. "There aren't words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa," the singer wrote in part. "She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me."
Gomez opened up again a few weeks later, during an appearance on Today. "My kidneys were just done," she told Savannah Guthrie, adding that she also experienced painful and intense arthritis. "That was it, and I didn’t want to ask a single person in my life. The thought of asking someone to do that was really difficult for me."
Raisa, who lived with Gomez at the time, offered to donate her kidney after seeing what the singer was going through. "The fact that she was a match, I mean that’s unbelievable. That’s not real," Gomez said. While the Grown-ish star didn't regret her decision to become Gomez's donor, the surgery and recovery was a difficult experience for both of them — especially because Gomez experienced life-threatening complications while in the hospital.
"A few hours after our surgery, I woke up and had a text from [Gomez] that said, 'I’m really scared,'" Raisa told W magazine in March 2018. "My kidney was very active, and when it turned I broke an artery. They had to take her into emergency surgery and get a vein from her leg and build a new artery to keep my kidney in place. She could have died. ... We didn’t want to tell anybody because recovery was very hard for us, and we went through a depression at the time."
Though Gomez has been incredibly open about her health struggles since she was first diagnosed with lupus in 2015, she has admitted that it is difficult for her to see her illness turned into tabloid fodder. "I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke," Gomez told Billboard in 2015 about her extended hiatus from the spotlight. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assh*les.' I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again."
No wonder Gomez's fans are so determined to protect her from any unnecessary comments or jokes about her health.