It was Season 2, the episode was called “Jessie’s Song” and it changed our lives forever. Jessie Spano gets hooked on caffeine pills and has a meltdown while singing “I’m So Excited” that is so intense and so extreme that it shook us to the core. And then we grew up and laughed about it for the next 26 years.
Anywhere you go in the world, you can say, “I’m so excited…. I’m so excited…” and someone will finish the line for you. So, here are some behind-the-scenes info about this infamous episode from the show’s executive producer, Peter Engel.
Jessie hates coffee. Jessie needs caffeine to study. Jessie needs to get into Stanford. Jessie gets a C on a quiz. Jessie is in the band Hot Sundae. Jessie needs caffeine pills to cope. Jessie loses her mind because of all the pressure. THERE’S NEVER ANY TIME. Zack Isn’t having it. Jessie is so excited. Jessie is so excited. Jessie is so scared.
When the episode was written, the subject matter was so much darker. Originally they wrote that Jessie gets hooked on speed! But the network would not approve the storyline for a Saturday morning show.
In his new book, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True, Engel explains,
“What fans don't know is that, when I originally wrote the episode with Tom Tenowich, Jessie was hooked on speed, not caffeine pills. But Standards and Practices, the censorial department of NBC, vetoed it, saying speed was too serious for Saturday mornings. I insisted that we needed to start dealing with more important issues than we had in the past, and that speed was a vehicle not only for exploring drug use but also the pressure that kids put on themselves to achieve. But Standards and Practices wasn't budging.”
Saved by the Bell wasn’t the first show to tackle the issue of drug use. Punky Brewster tackled the dangers of taking prescription medications and Family Ties had an episode about diet pills. So naturally, Saved By The Bell thought they should tackle drugs as well. Their drug of choice: NoDoz.
“We kept the episode virtually the same, but swapped out the speed. I wasn't pleased about it---after all, the average caffeine pill was the equivalent of a cup of coffee, if that, so we might as well have had Jessie get addicted to earl grey, or breaking into the Max to snort coffee grounds. But hey, we had to start somewhere.”
8. Everyone Is Still Talking About It
The scene went viral before viral was even a thing. It’s been 26 years since the episode aired and people are still talking about it. Last monthFamily Guyrecreated the scene when Chris wins a date with Taylor Swift and Stewie is so excited, he says, “I haven’t been this excited since I abuse those caffeine pills to get ready for the big show.” And then they showed a reenactment of the infamous scene.
9. There’s No Hope With Dope
They didn’t stop at Jessie’s song. In Season 3, the Bayside crew films an anti-drug commercial and they find out that the person producing the commercial is a drug user!
To learn more about who dated who, how and why they were all hired, and how many extras Dustin Diamond had sex with in the later years, check out Peter Engel’s newly released book, I Was Saved by the Bell: Stories of Life, Love, and Dreams That Do Come True.