Of all the episodes of Saved by the Bell, what stands out to Elizabeth Berkley — and many of the show’s fans — is the one where her character, the studious and perfectionistic Jessie Spano, becomes addicted to caffeine pills.
You know the scene: Jessie’s best friend Zack Morris (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) comes into her room and stops her from taking a pill. She responds by singing what has to be the most famous line in Saved by the Bell history: “I’m so excited! I’m so excited!” She then dramatically, as the scene calls for, breaks down into tears, as she says, “I’m so… scared.”
Well, the truth is that all this played out over candy, Berkley revealed this week in an interview on The Exchange Rate. “Those were Red Hots,” she told host Monét X Change.
But while the pills were fake, the drama was real. Berkley remembered being amazed to see how much of an impact the episode had, although she acknowledges that the script for “Jessie’s Song” stood apart from others.
“When we shot it, Mark-Paul and I were just so excited to have something a little more juicy, cause we had been really trained actors and, you know, we’d been doing this light comedy,” Berkley said. “Basically the biggest problem was, who’s gonna ask who to the dance? And here came this script where we were like, ‘Oh my God, we get to go for it.’ I think because we had that chemistry is why it’s kind of had this interesting staying power in pop culture. A lot of real emotions came up. It was real. It was raw. And very adolescent. And we went for it, that’s for sure.”
Now, 30 years after it originally aired on Nov. 3, 1990, the moment lives on in countless memes and in Berkley’s encounters with fans.
“I could never have known that for years and years, people would come up to me and say, ‘I’m so excited. I’m so scared.’ Right?” Berkley said.
And she doesn’t seem to mind, at least not so much that she can’t joke about it.
Berkley is one of several of the sitcom’s original cast members who appear in the updated version of the series that’s now streaming on Peacock.
— Video produced by Jacquie Cosgrove
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