Ridin’ Low in My Chair: “The Mamas and the Papas”

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March 11, 2014 by billysparrow

“The Mamas and the Papas”

Aired: November 4, 1989

In a haiku nutshell: Married life is hard/Even when it’s not for real/That’s one to grow on

Trivia that will impress, well, no one: Q: What is the first soap opera referenced in a “Saved by the Bell” episode? A: “The Young and the Restless”

(Image from fanpop.com)

(Image from fanpop.com)

It’s at the very least curious that Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa always seem to be the focus of every class at Bayside. But, hey, at least there’s a logical explanation provided in “The Mamas and the Papas” for why the Bayside Six are chosen to be paired off for a marriage experiment in an unspecified class apparently taught by the school principal. Mr. Belding informs the students that the three pairs were matched alphabetically. So, naturally, Zack Morris is paired with Kelly Kapowski, A.C. Slater is matched with Jessie Spano, and Samuel Powers partners with Lisa Turtle.

And if you can explain to me how that works alphabetically, I’m willing to listen. Because I don’t see any possible way, nevermind that the other students in the class somehow don’t fit into this alphabetical plan.

Look, if I don’t point out the logical flaws in “Saved by the Bell,” who will?

Anyway, credulity is further stretched when Lisa somehow develops an allergy to Screech that initially sends her body into uncontrollable tics and then results in incessant sneezing, leading Mr. Belding to “annul” their marriage (after wasting a golden opportunity to make a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reference upon addressing them as the “Turtle-Powers,” although it seems like it might have been a reference that no one in the studio audience picked up on) and instead assign them to be Zack and Kelly’s and Slater and Jessie’s children. This “allergy,” which is assessed rather quickly by medical expert Mr. Belding, apparently only happens this one time, as Lisa spends the entire rest of her high school career (and at least one summer) in reasonably close proximity to Screech without having an outbreak. And she even miraculously recovers from her malady by episode’s end, as Screech shows up to date her and she doesn’t start jerking around and sneezing.

And while am at it, what’s going on with everyone’s parents’ questionable open-door policy? They seem to let anyone into the house and instruct them to go right up to their children’s rooms without any warning (which is how Screech winds up at Lisa’s door as she’s doing aerobics). What kind of half-ass parenting is that? And you’d think Lisa’s parents might have some idea that their daughter hates Screech and might want some advance notice that he’s on his way up to her bedroom. C’mon, Turtles.

So, as for those classroom marriages: after Lisa and Screech are separated, Belding decides not to just pair them up with any one of the other students gawking along the walls of the classroom and instead makes them children of Zack and Kelly (Screech) and Slater and Jessie (Lisa). Screech’s arrival throws a wrench into Zack and Kelly’s marriage (Kelly worries that Zack isn’t making time for their “son,” after Slater puts him up to doing what he does anyway–being annoying–in exchange for a date with his “daughter”….yeah, I don’t understand how that works either), and the Slater-Jessie union seems doomed from the start (Slater’s assessment of the women’s movement: “Put on something cute and move it into the kitchen”–good one, A.C.!).

The only way to resolve this and still get a passing grade is, of course, to go to The Max, where the magic man is back, making a duck appear out of thin air. The occasion is essentially an apology dinner, where the guys try to patch things up with their “wives” and “children.” Slater and Jessie accept that “two people like us should never be married,” and Zack and Kelly settle their differences and stay on the road to actual marriage several years later (sorry if I spoiled that for you). Everyone passes (I guess Lisa and Screech are graded on their ability to be children?), and life goes on.

And thus ends another “Saved by the Bell” episode, one with a larger-than-normal assortment of logical holes. I hope you appreciate my work in pointing out these flaws in a show intended for preteens and teens. I don’t know how you got so lucky to be here to read all about this, but let’s all be glad that you did.

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