TV Review: Saved by the Bell, 1X4, “The Fabulous Birchwood Boys”

Chike Coleman reviews episode four of Saved by the Bell, "The Fabulous Birchwood Boys."
User Rating: 8

“The Fabulous Birchwood Boys” gave the less fortunate students of Bayside a glimpse inside of the life of the rich.  Daisy is put in charge of the school dance, and because of that, she is afforded the literal privilege of spending $10,000 on all the party planning for the dance.  Mac is delighted by the fact that he gets the opportunity to teach Daisy how to be a rich person.

The other major storyline involves Devonte and Lexi.  Devonte and Lexi are the stars of the school’s musical this year.  Devonte refuses to engage in the acting side of the musical, which displeases Lexi a great deal.  Devonte’s prejudices against acting are well known, and his antisocial nature seems to be rooted in fear of looking like a joke.  This upsets Lexi because acting is her passion and what makes her feel like an individual.

“The Fabulous Birchwood Boys” does something remarkable in this episode because it shows the characters at their most raw and organic.  Saved By the Bell had shown us shades of that previously in the first three episodes, but with circumstances at the school starting to become more serious, I’m glad the show engaged in the opportunity to show just how flawed these students were.  Daisy’s always going to be growing into her privilege of being able to attend Bayside, but it was nice to see her really be engaged with that privilege rather than hating it, even if that was only for a brief moment.

I love the fact that Mac was enjoying teaching her how to be a rich person because that was completely out of the scope of what she thought she could achieve.  What I think is more important is what she learned about herself and how even though she obtained financial freedom, she quickly learned not to forget where she came from or who she is. That is a powerful message to send to teenagers who are so engrossed in having technology do their learning for them.

In terms of the story with Lexi and Devonte, there is just so much to cover there.  Having Devonte criticize an art form that he had never experienced seems like a deeply prejudiced act.  I love that we get to see more of his home life and how he perceives his friends react to the idea of him being a part of the privileged school.  He ends up insulting bayside even more just to keep himself from looking entitled in front of the friends he made before.

This particular aspect of the episodes is a powerful message about the peer pressure we sometimes put on ourselves in school.  We are all desperately trying to fit in.  How we identify is how we make our way in the world.  Devonte’s struggle is that he doesn’t want to lose who he is just because he goes to a more affluent school and may, in turn, receive a better education.  The revelation that Lexi used acting as a way to stand out at school because of her transition was really touching moment even though part of that moment was meant to be comedic in that she had a reality show on the E! network.  Lexi made herself fit in by knowing that she wanted to stand out and be her best self rather than be afraid that no one will accept her.

This is a powerful message cloaked in comedy, and it’s where the show excels the most.  I’m glad that Devante apologized for judging Lexi, but more importantly, it shows that the differences that have been highlighted in the first three episodes are starting to build towards compassion and possibly friendship.

I hope Saved By the Bell continues the trend of teaching lessons through the use of comedy. This episode helped endear me to the characters I started to like in episode one.  I can only pray the writers continue this upward trajectory.

Good
  • Lexi's storyline
  • Daisy exploring privilege
8
Great
Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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