Okay, Who Here Is Reading Screech's Book?

Trick question. Of course we’re all going to read Dustin “Screech” Diamond’s tell-all book about Saved By the Bell, imaginatively titled “Behind the Bell.” The only question is which of us will admit that we’re already saving up for a copy.

I always felt kind of sorry for the guy, despite playing a character who made Steve Urkel and Skippy Handelman look like the sort of guys you’d be happy to get trapped in an elevator with. (Or locked in a cellar, which actually happened to Skippy once.) It was clear even at the time that he was not likely to have much of a career after Saved By the Bell, and when it turned out that the other, better-looking kids treated him in real life more or less the way they treated him on the show — i.e., like a bacillicus — it didn’t seem surprising at all.

If you think about it, the whole Screech thing has set a really bad example for kid-oriented sitcoms that followed. Many if not most of today’s kids’ shows have one character who is openly treated like dirt by the other, cuter characters. Zoey 101 had a character like that, “Stacey,” who was mocked for being less attractive than the other kids and for talking funny; Hannah Montana constantly pulls a screech on Miley’s older brother. The idea that it is okay to be horrendously cruel to somebody for the crime of not being cute is not exactly new — Big Ethel, anybody? — but Screech made it okay again.

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