How “Saved By The Bell” Is Like “House Of Cards”


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DISCLAIMER: This post reveals spoilers for both House of Cards and Saved By The Bell, both of which are currently available on Netflix, so you have no excuse to not have seen both by now.

Just over twenty-five years ago, the very first episode of Saved By The Bell aired. At the time of launch, who knew this show — which was reworked from its original concept, Good Morning, Miss Bliss — would become such a staple of the lives of so many. I’m sure when the first episode aired, the six main actors (plus Mr. Belding, if you want to count him as part of the main cast, but, I mean, who really wants to count the principal in anything? Kids rule! Adults drool! Suck it, Mr. Belding!) were so excited. They must’ve been so excited. They must’ve been so…scared.

Who would’ve thought this show would teach young teens and children responsibility, respect for their elders (unless that elder is their principal — suck it, Mr. Belding!), teamwork, love, sportsmanship, and to never, under any circumstances, take out Lisa Turtle’s mom’s car.

Since the creation of Saved By The Bell, other shows have tried to mimic the success it had. From Dawson’s Creek to 90210 to Blossom (I assume…I’ve actually never seen an episode of Blossom) shows have always tried to pull ideas from SBTB — and none more than the Netflix Original Series House of Cards. Seriously. Allow me to explain.

Zack Morris Is Francis Underwood


In a way, Saved By The Bell was the original House of Cards, and Zack Morris was just a young Francis Underwood with acid-wash jeans.

(Before you begin to rebut this entire article, note: Yes, I know House of Cards is a remake of a BBC miniseries of the same name. And yes, I know Saved By The Bell is based off of a classic Twilight Zone episode about a freakishly attractive teenage male Wiccan who could freeze time whenever he damn well pleased.)

Although, not everything about Francis Underwood and Zachary “Zack” Morris is the same. For one, Zack at least has the decency to pause time before breaking down the fourth wall. Francis constantly tries to sneak a sly remark or comment in the middle of conversations at times, making it extremely awkward for those in the room with him. However, they do a good job of ignoring him. It’s like whenever the SBTB gang would be in a movie theater, everyone else in the four-row theater would just ignore the Bayside gang, even though they would speak at levels audible enough to be heard by a live studio audience on a television sound stage. Seriously, guys? It’s a movie theater, not a monster truck rally. Tone it down a little. In the words of fellow ’90s sitcom character Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!” Another key difference between Zack and Frank Underwood is that Zack and Kelly never had a spontaneous threesome with Meechum.

Zack Morris uses people the same Frank Underwood does. It doesn’t matter if it’s to get his way, to give himself more power, or to pretend he’s Jewish so he can skip school on Rosh Hashanah to attend a Dodgers playoff game. (Side note: How did teachers ever believe that? I mean, the Dodgers making the playoffs in the ’90s? Yeah right.) But Zack Morris always gets what he wants. Maybe it’s his bleached blond hair. Maybe it’s his charming smile. Maybe it’s because he is the only kid at Bayside with a fifteen-pound cell phone. No matter what it is, Francis Underwood explained it best when he said, “For those climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.” And Zack Morris always has his proverbial gun locked and loaded.

Remember in season one when Zack and A.C. were sworn enemies? Zack clearly realized early on that A.C. was much better looking, a lot stronger, more athletic, and had a much better agent. (An agent who could get him a lead bike-cop role on USA Network’s Pacific Blue and a hosting gig on Extra instead of some lame supporting roles in a few crappy ABC Family original movies and a guest appearance on an episode of Law & Order: SVU.) Zack felt like he could use A.C. for his advantage.

So what does Zack do? He becomes best friends with A.C., pulling him in close. Shaking his hand with his right, while holding a rock in his left. The two become best friends. A friendship that appeared to be deep, but in reality was as shallow as a puddle on the side of the road, and dirtier, too. (That last sentence works best if you read it in Francis Underwood’s voice.) Zack allows A.C. to get close enough to feel a part of the group, but not close enough to where he could bring him down. Why else do you think A.C. always has to pull up a chair to the booth when the gang hangs out at The Max?

Now some may say, “But what about Screech? I thought he was Zack’s best friend.” First of all, after writing that tell-all book about Saved By The Bell, it’s safe to say Screech is nobody’s best friend anymore. And even before the book, Screech was nothing more than a pawn.

“Proximity to power deludes some into believing they yield it.” -Francis Underwood

Screech Is Doug Stamper


Thus making Screech the Doug Stamper of the bunch. He’ll do anything for Zack, and he is crucial to Zack’s success (read: someone to cheat off of during tests) but most of the time, Zack doesn’t even realize he’s there. Plus, judging by his role in the show, Screech seems to be the kind of guy who would help a prostitute get out of trouble and back on her feet as long as she promises to read him a few Bible passages while they sit alone in his car.

Violet Bickerstaff Is Rachel


Violet Bickerstaff (AKA Screech’s girlfriend, played by Tori Spelling) is the aforementioned former prostitute, Rachel, mainly because these girls are the only females who will spend an extended amount of time with Screech and Doug.

Kelly Kapowski Is Claire Underwood


Heartthrob Kelly Kapowski is clearly Claire Underwood. Both women have extremely charitable hearts. For example, Claire is the CEO of the Clean Water Initiative and Kelly likes to lie out by her pool that is filled with clean water. Not to mention, Kelly is the first one in the Bayside gang to join Jessie in her protest of the evil oil company’s drilling on the school’s grounds. Plus, like Francis and Claire, Zack loves Kelly more than sharks love blood. You always knew they truly loved each other, even though they would occasionally hook up with other people throughout the entire series. However, Zack and Kelly never share cigarettes by the window before bed, because if Kelly refused to smoke with famed Skateboard High actor Johnny Dakota, she won’t smoke with anyone. This feat of power and self-control makes Zack love Kelly even more.

A.C. Slater Is President Garrett Walker


A.C. Slater is President Garrett Walker, but with much cuter dimples. At first, Zack and A.C. were at odds, just like Underwood and President Walker were after Walker chose someone else to be his secretary of state, but over time, the two grew close. Close enough to where if A.C. were president, and Zack were vice president, Zack would be able to talk him into resigning so he could ultimately take over the presidency. Classic Zack.

Jesse Spano is Linda Vasquez


Jesse Spano is Linda Vasquez. Plot twist, huh? You didn’t see Jesse Spano as the president’s assistant, did you? Well, it makes sense. She’s constantly by A.C.’s side. She is an intelligent and very powerful woman. She keeps A.C. in line, and she rarely sleeps…mainly because she’s so addicted to those caffeine pills. Francis Underwood has always said that he “loathes the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful of men on their backs.” However, Underwood uses his enemies’ sleep to his advantage. He knows he can strike at his opponents while they sleep, which is why he convinces Linda to take that nap in the oval office. It’s why Zack confronts Jesse about the caffeine pills and forcefully makes her stop taking them, thus causing both women to fall asleep. Don’t be fooled. Underwood and Morris have a motive behind every move they make.

Jesse: “You are such a chauvinistic pig.”
Slater: “Hey! I am not a pig.”
Live Studio Audience: [laughter]

Tori Scott Is Zoe Barnes


Tori Scott, that chick who showed up in the final season when Kelly and Jesse suddenly went missing, is the Zoe Barnes of the gang. At first, Zack and Tori didn’t like each other, but soon became involved romantically. Tori has this kind of bad girl persona that makes us believe she’ll do whatever (or whoever, amirite?!) she needs to in order to advance herself in the world. Plus, she suddenly disappeared from the show. By the time she grabbed her books and she gave herself the looks, she was on the corner just in time to get pushed in front of a train.

Lisa Turtle Is Remy Denton


Lisa Turtle is obviously Remy Danton. Not just because they’re the only black characters on their shows, but because they’re both rich. They both dress extremely well. Remy goes way back with Francis, as she used to be his press secretary, and Lisa goes way back with Zack, as they were both on Good Morning Miss Bliss together. But also, because they’re the only black characters.

Mr. Belding Is Raymond Tusk


Mr. Belding is Raymond Tusk, because the two of them have a lot of power: one being the behind-the-scenes right hand man of the president and the other being a principal who always enters scenes by saying, “Hey, hey, hey, HEY, HEY! What is going on here?” Both are the oldest characters in their respective shows and both are constantly undermined by Zack or Francis. Suck it, Mr. Belding!

Max Is That Weird Computer Hacker Guy


Max, the owner of The Max, is that weird computer hacker guy. Each of these guys only appear in one season, they both have inappropriate relationships (Max with the kids of Bayside High and that creepy computer hacker guy with his guinea pig, Cashew), they’re both creepy, and no one really wants to know what either of them do in their spare time.

The Max Is Freddy’s BBQ Joint


The Max is the Freddy’s BBQ Joint of the show, only minus the fact that anyone who’s anyone hangs out at The Max, and only Francis Underwood knew about Freddy’s. We never should have voted for a politician who would keep a delicious barbecue joint to himself like that.

Oftentimes in Hollywood, you’ll find parallels between television shows or movies. However, it’s rare you’ll find parallels as similar of those between two shows. In fact, from here on out, when you watch either of these shows, it will be hard for you not to think of the other.

Both of these shows have had huge impacts on our lives. Saved By The Bell taught us morals and the difference between right and wrong, while House of Cards taught us to SCREW ALL THAT! YOU DO YOU! LIE, CHEAT, STEAL, HOOK UP WITH BLOGGERS, THROW AWAY CELL PHONES LIKE THEY’RE NOT EXPENSIVE, DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE IT TO THE TOP!

Without Saved By The Bell, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the man I am today. Nope. In fact, if Saved By The Bell never aired, I probably would’ve gone outside a lot more on Saturday mornings. Or, at least, watched reruns of something else while eating bowl after bowl of cereal after school. And without House of Cards, I can honestly say I will no longer be shocked when a main character gets pushed in front of a train in the middle of the first episode of a season anymore.

I’ll leave you with this video:

Happy twenty-fifth anniversary, SBTB. And here’s to an epic season three, HOC.

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Austin Huff

Austin wears pants every day. He is also the founder of

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