When the long-awaited Saved by the Bell reboot finally dropped on NBC Universal's streaming platform Peacock on Nov. 25, it was almost like an early Christmas for fans of the original series. That is, until the recurring jokes about Selena Gomez and her kidney donor reared their ugly heads.
Obviously, making light of Selena's ongoing battle with lupus — and specifically, a major surgery that both she and her kidney donor underwent — is not a good look.
Let's take a closer look at what went down on the Saved by the Bell reboot, as well as who, exactly, Selena's kidney donor actually was.
The 'Saved by the Bell' reboot joked about Selena Gomez and her kidney donor.
The joke happened in Episode 6 of the Saved by the Bell reboot after Bayside students have their phones taken away, therefore having no immediate access to the internet. In the scene, two students are arguing about an event in pop culture — except, they don't have a way to check sources and figure out who is right.
“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom,” one female student insists. “God, I wish that I had my phone so I could prove it.”
“Prove what? That you’re an idiot?” the other female student replies. “It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends ... like you and I were.”
In a later scene, viewers can see the words, "Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?" spray painted on the wall in the background. (Yes, really.)
#RespectSelenaGomez started trending on Twitter after 'Saved by the Bell' dropped on Peacock.
It didn't take long for Selena's fans to take to social media to express their disgust and outrage. Many of them used #RespectSelenaGomez to all out Saved by the Bell for their misjudgment.
In a statement issued on Nov. 28, Peacock, Universal Television and the show's executive producers issued an apology for the controversial dialogue.
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” the statement reads. “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.”
So who is Selena Gomez's kidney donor? That would be Francia Raisa.
Although Selena didn't publicly share what was happening to her at the time, she was gravely ill in summer 2017 and ended up needing a kidney transplant due to complications from lupus. It was her best friend and fellow actress Francia Raisa who stepped up to donate a kidney in order to save Selena's life.
“My kidneys were just done,” Selena explained in October 2017. “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."
The singer continued, “She volunteered and did it. And let alone someone wanting to volunteer, it is incredibly difficult to find a match. The fact that she was a match, I mean that’s unbelievable. That’s not real.”
“One day she came home and she was emotional. I hadn’t asked anything. I knew she hadn’t been feeling well,” Raisa, who was living with Selena at the time, told Today. “She couldn’t open a water bottle one day. She chucked it and she started crying. And I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and that’s when she told me. And she goes, ‘I don’t know what to do. The list is seven to 10 years long."
“It just vomited out of me: I was like, ‘Of course I’ll get tested,'" Selena's BFF added.
Fast-forward to September 2020, and Selena shared a photo showing off her kidney transplant scar for the first time via Instagram.
"When I got my kidney transplant, I remember it being very difficult at first showing my scar. I didn’t want it to be in photos, so I wore things that would cover it up," she captioned the shot of herself wearing a swimsuit. "Now, more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through ... and I’m proud of that."
Selena's kidney donor, Francia Raisa, spoke out amid the controversy.
"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 tweed on Nov. 29. Ouch.
So far, Selena has yet to comment on the ill-receieved Saved by the Bell scenes.