When NBC Universal announced the sequel series to Saved by the Bell was in development, the first major news to come with it was that original stars Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Mario Lopez would reprise their roles as Jessie Spano and A.C. Slater. The original NBC Saturday morning series paired the two together in the 90s after Slater moved on from his pursuit of Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) in the triangle with Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). With Berkley not joining the short-lived primetime spinoff The College Years and opted for the feature film-turned cult classic Showgirls (1995), it was assumed both went their separate ways since Jessie lived her dream of going to Stanford University.
Now the two reconnected as employees at their alma mater of Bayside High with Dr. Jessica Spano acting as counselor and football head coach/gym teacher A.C. Slater take their turns as mentors, but could they rekindle their love for one another? Berkley Lauren, Lopez, and executive producer/showrunner Tracey Wigfield spoke to Entertainment Weekly about season one's late tease. This is a spoiler warning for those who haven't seen the premiere season.
Catching up with AC Slater and Jessie Spano on "Saved by the Bell"
It's established early on that Dr. Spano married someone who ended up very self-absorbed and often takes long sabbaticals away from the family while trying to find inspiration for his writing. At some point despite her own academic achievements, Jessie's convictions didn't follow through to parenthood as she's finding out her in her son Jamie (Belmont Cameli). "When we see Jessie and Slater again, they're in very different places of their lives," Wigfield said. "Jessie had some success; she wrote a bunch of books and got a bunch of degrees before she went back to work at Bayside. And she went back to help students there and to be close to her son, Jamie, who is a student there. Then with Slater, we see him go back as the athletic coach not so long after we see him in The College Years and he's sort of been stuck there and a little less happy with the way his life turned out. But Jessie is married. So she and Slater have this friendship but they still have this contentious relationship. Will they or won't they?"
Despite being the captain of the football team, Jamie has no competitive edge to lead the team to anything but defeat. Avoiding most confrontation, he along with his teammates show no killer instinct and embrace their softer sides much to transfer student and new starting quarterback Aisha's (Alycia Pascual-Pena) frustration. At the end of the season, Jessie starts to make changes in her own life including no longer "accommodating" her husband Rene (Cheyenne Jackson). Berkley Lauren opened up about the possible rekindling with Slater.
"How can there not be?! We can't be disappointing the fans!" Berkley Lauren said. "Just as things start crumbling in Jessie's personal life in the revival, she's just come back to Bayside and there are flickers, and of course, the dynamic is still there. Listen, what I love is that I got to act with the people that I love the most from my childhood. When we shot the original, we really were like 15 years old when we first started. Working with Mario and our wonderful chemistry and dynamic was such an incredible thing to jump back into. He and I have maintained a friendship throughout the years and we've worked together. To be able to drop back into those roles and still have that crackle in the way we interact, and the rhythm and the banter is all still there."
According to Lopez, Slater always has Jessie's back. "When we see Jessie in the revival, she's married," he explains. "They've always been friends and she knows she will always be able to count on him. He cares about her and they have a lot of history. We'll have to wait and see what happens." Saved by the Bell is available to stream on Peacock.