By Mary Alice
The Date Auction episode of Saved By the Bell is quietly one of the best episodes they put out. I would argue it’s the single best one that doesn’t take place on location in one way or another (Mystery Weekend, which is my second favorite after the two part Christmas episode, is shot on a set, but takes place completely in a mansion instead of primarily in the school).
The fallout from the date auction, of which Jesse is NOT A FAN, has Jesse going to the dance with Screech, Slater with Kelly (because Jesse refused to bid on him), Lisa going with Brian (who we never see before or since), and Zack going with Wendy, whose body is of a size literally never seen on a high school girl at Bayside or any at other televised high school to that point in history.
Anyway, it’s a pretty messy (as you’d expect) but is honestly the most sensitive and realistic portrayal of actual TEEN PROBLEMS ever presented on Saved By the Bell. Zack is embarrassed to be going to the dance with Wendy. Jesse describes her as “not exactly [his] type” and when the whole thing blows up, Wendy identifies Zack’s disinterest as being the result of her not being “Lydia, Kelly or Elle McPherson!” Lisa changes her whole personality to appeal to Brian’s high-minded intellectualism, which makes him an odd choice for Lisa. Brian also gifts us with tearing down the fourth wall at some point and it’s magical, describing Jesse as a “pseudo-intellectual neurotic.”
Also, watching Jesse and Screech dance together is always a treat, no matter how many times I see it.