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The Saved By The Bell Episode That Aged So Poorly Mark-Paul Gosselaar Had To Apologize

Teen sitcom "Saved by the Bell" was a classic Saturday morning staple for the generation who watched the Bayside High school teens grow up over four seasons and 86 episodes in the early 1990s. Itself a retooling of "Good Morning, Miss Bliss," the adventures of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) were popular enough that they spawned into a franchise over the next decade. This included "Saved by the Bell: The College Years" and "Saved by the Bell: The New Class," as well as two television movies and various media reunions (via People).

However, the show has also been mocked because of the sometimes problematic storylines and corny tone. Thanks to parodies like the popular Funny or Die web series "Zack Morris Is Trash," the recent Peacock revival of "Saved by the Bell" features a more satirical tone and an outright villainous Zack Morris, with Gosselaar reprising his role.

Even before the revival series, Gosselaar had noticed some of the backlash against his character. In fact, he issued a "mea culpa" in 2016 for one especially egregious episode of the show.

Zack Morris dressed as an indigenous person on Running Zack

As others have pointed out, Zack Morris makes some really questionable decisions on "Saved by the Bell." And somehow this isn't limited to taking pictures of the girls' swim team for a calendar, or even trying to brainwash the school so he can score a date. Yikes. But actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar did outright apologize to Entertainment Weekly when asked about the infamous "Running Zack" episode from Season 2.

In "Running Zack," Morris discovers that he has Native American ancestry, and uses this fact to give two racist presentations about native tribes. Gosselaar pointed out to EW that even when Zack has supposedly learned to take his ancestry seriously, "he gets into full Native American costume with face paint and a headdress."

Gosselaar's real-life ancestry is tied to the Netherlands and Indonesia (via Santa Monica Mirror), meaning the actor is not indigenous, and he seems embarrassed by the performance. He called Zack's first presentation "completely racist" and was horrified by a picture of himself online in stereotypical Native garb. The actor told EW, "I hope the kids don't catch that episode." Ultimately, playing a darker, more nefarious Zack Morris on the new "Saved by the Bell" may have been simply an acknowledgment of who the character always was.