It appears that the Saved By the Bell reboot is off to a bad start. The much anticipated NBCUniversal’s Peacock series garnered tons of negative press over the weekend for making what many viewers considered inappropriate jokes about Selena Gomez’s health struggles.
One of the offensive scenes in question had two characters arguing about whether Gomez’s kidney donor was “Justin Bieber’s mom” or Demi Lovato. Later in the episode, a wall was spray-painted with the words: “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?”
Fans flocked to social media to condemn the program for making light of Gomez’s harrowing health journey.
“I can officially say that this generation is full of some sick and insensitive ppl,” wrote one Selena stan on Twitter. “The fact that if her surgery went wrong, she wouldnt be here today. and a whole ass show producer thought it was okay to mock her for it? the script writers too? what??” Many similar sentiments were echoed on social media.
The blowback became so bad that NBCUniversal was forced to apologize for the tasteless joke. They have since removed the “jokes” from the episode.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Selena Gomez’s kidney donor, fellow actress Francia Raísa, addressed NBCUniversal’s apology via Twitter. “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 said.
Selena Gomez has been candid about the trauma she’s endured over the years due to her autoimmune disease, lupus. Gomez’s lupus forced her to undergo chemotherapy and eventually, seek a kidney transplant.
“I had arthritis. My kidneys were shutting down. My mentality was just to keep going,” Selena revealed in a 2017 interview with the Today Show. “That was it. And I didn’t want to ask a single person in my life and that was the day I came home, when I found out, and [Raísa] volunteered and did it.”
But Gomez’s kidney transplant wasn’t the end of her health journey, both mental and physical.
After her surgery, Gomez struggled with body image issues, specifically surrounding her surgery scar. In a recent Instagram post, Gomez revealed that it took her a while to become confident in her own skin after her surgery.
“When I got my kidney transplant, I remember it being very difficult at first showing my scar,” she wrote. “I didn’t want it to be in photos, so I wore things that would cover it up. Now, more than ever, I feel confident in who I am and what I went through.”
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