I’m So Excited, I’m So Scared: Jessie Spano’s Caffeine Freakout Turns 25
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While Saved By The Bell generally doesn’t hold up if you’re over the age of sixteen — it’s impossible to deny it had its moments. And perhaps one of the best moments was the time Jessie Spano (played by future Showgirl Elizabeth Berkley) got jacked up on caffeine pills… and this happened:
The episode “Jessie’s Song,” was about pressure: Jessie Spano not only has a geometry test coming up, but her girl group Hot Sundae (with Lisa and Kelly) might get signed to a record label! Unable to cope with the pressure, she first turns to coffee… but when that’s not enough, she needs to get a stronger fix… so she goes for pure, uncut caffeine pills.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t follow the two most important rules: Only take what you can handle, and always know your dealer. (Well, in this case, her dealer was a store, since caffeine pills aren’t illegal.) She takes too much, and Zach has to talk her down.
Obviously, caffeine pills are meant to be a stand-in for more serious drugs — the creators felt Saved By The Bell wasn’t a heavy enough show to do, say, uppers. And this was the ’90s, the time of a White House-backed initiative to secretly shove anti-drug messages in your favorite TV shows — meaning a glut of Very Special Episodes.
But even the people working on the show knew this was a bit much. In an interview with Thrillist, episode director Don Barnhart explains:
[Some of the cast was] too hip for the room… There were a couple of people who teased her. They didn’t rank on her, they didn’t belittle her, but they kind of teased her. Everyone knew there were bigger drugs out there on the market. Why aren’t we doing a heroin show? Well, we’re not doing a heroin show.
But ultimately, they made one of the most iconically ironically enjoyable TV episodes ever. In celebration, we’re gonna go take a whole mess of caffeine pills and get rekt this weekend! Whoo! Party!