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‘Saved by the Bell’: Selena Gomez Kidney Joke Controversy

Selena Gomez fans hit Twitter in droves Saturday after taking offense to jokes about the actress/singer’s kidney transplant in Peacock’s new Saved by the Bell reboot.

In the Episode 6 scene in question, two Bayside High students (neither of whom are part of the main cast) speculate about the identity of Gomez’s donor, after having their phones taken away by the school’s principal.

“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,” one student says. “Prove what? That you’re an idiot?” the other replies. “It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.” (A public statement by Gomez at the time revealed that her close friend, actress Francia Raísa, was the actual donor.)

In another scene, “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” can be read in graffiti on the wall.

In response to the hashtag #RespectSelenaGomez, one user tweeted, “You should be ashamed to air a show where a person is mocked for their serious illness. It is not only offensive to Selena Gomez, but to all those who have had to go through a process as difficult as that.”

In a statement to our sister site Variety, Peacock, NBC Universal and the show’s EPs said, “We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. 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.”

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In 2015, Gomez went public with her lupus diagnosis, for which she had previously received chemotherapy. A kidney transplant followed in 2017, one year after the actress temporarily stepped away from her career as a result of the diagnosis and her mental health.

Saved by the Bell premiered Wednesday, Nov. 25. All 10 episodes are now available to stream on Peacock.


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