“Saved By the Bell” reboot creators are apologizing for multiple jokes in the new series about Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant.
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” the show’s executive producers, streaming service Peacock and studio Universal Television said in a joint statement to USA TODAY. “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.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Gomez’s representatives for comment.
The singer and former Disney Channel actress, 28, underwent what she later described as a “life-or-death” procedure in 2017 in her battle against lupus, an autoimmune disease that often attacks the kidneys. Gomez has been open with fans about her health struggles and told the “Today” show she went through chemotherapy and “had to write a will” before her procedure.
In one scene from Peacock’s new series, which hit streaming last week, two students speculate about who donated a kidney to Gomez.
Selena Gomez reveals scar from kidney transplant:The actress says she feels ‘confident in who I am’
“Now, I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom,” one student says, referencing Gomez’s ex-boyfriend. “God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it.”
Another replies: “Prove what? That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.”
Wall graffiti in another scene appears to read “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?”
Gomez revealed that her friend, “Grown-ish” actress Francia Raisa, donated the organ in a photo of the two of them side by side in hospital beds, holding hands. In the caption, Gomez thanked her friend for making “the ultimate gift and sacrifice.”
Raisa said in a tweet Saturday she appreciated Peacock’s apology, but didn’t want others to “forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall.”
She added: “As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!”
The jokes were met with criticism from fans, who made “Respect Selena Gomez” trend Saturday on Twitter in response to the show.
“this is so unprofessional, unnecessary and beyond disgusting,” @skinnysel wrote alongside screenshots of the wall graffiti scene.
“Making fun of someone’s illness is NEVER acceptable,” @colourwheeling1 added.
“Peacock better plan to remove both scenes from that Saved By The Bell episode,” @supermangeek101 wrote. “an apology & a donation to Selena Gomez’s charity is a solid start but actions speak way louder than words. Peacock must fix this by cutting out both scenes it’s the right move to do in this situation!!”
‘It’s not easy for anyone’:Selena Gomez on her quarantine cooking show and mental health amid COVID
Will their characters reunite? Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley are so excited for the ‘Saved By the Bell’ reboot