This week, the class of Saved by the Bell reunited for a little age-defying nostalgia trip on Jimmy Fallon, but there were some glaring absences from Bayside High. While Zach, Kelly, Jessie, and Slater all got to kick it with Mr. Belding, Lisa Turtle and Screech were sadly nowhere to be found.
Lisa, played by Lark Voorhies, was the group's resident fashion and gossip expert, and Screech, played by Dustin Diamond, was the unforgettable geek with a squeak. Both of them were on the show since its earliest days (as the little-known Disney sitcom Good Morning, Miss Bliss) and were an essential part to the group's dynamic. The show would have been seriously lacking without Screech's constant pining for Lisa, and her hilariously consistent dismissal of his affection.
Considering just how much fans adored these two classic characters, I was shocked when they didn't come out for this already-beloved reunion. I think we can all agree that the nineties would have been a very different place without Lisa's penchant for drama and Screech's mismatched clothes.
This feeling got me to thinking, what have these two been up to lately?
Where is Screech these days?
Screech may have been the funny man of the group, but lately his numerous scandals have been no laughing matter. Following his departure from Saved by the Bell and its various spin-offs, Dustin Diamond has been in the public eye for all the wrong reasons.
Sex Tape Scandal
For starters, in 2006, Diamond directed and starred in his own sex tape entitled Screeched — Saved by the Smell. Later, he backtracked about the extent of his involvement, telling Oprah in an interview that he used a "stunt double." This year, he continued to confuse the sex tape story in an article with The Daily Beast:
I put the thing together. I got a stunt wang. I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to really put myself out there. So I got a stunt person to come in. And I thought, what if this thing makes $3 million? That’s nothing to scoff at. But after that people looked at me dirty, like, “He does porn.” No, I don’t! I faked that one at a chance for millions. I’m an opportunist, really. Needless to say it did not make millions. But I had to take the shot. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.
Who really knows what the true story is, but one thing is clear: Diamond says that the little money he got from sales of the tape was not worth the fallout that came after.
Celebrity Fit Club Tirade
Starting in 2007, he began a reality TV career as a contestant on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club. He proceeded to get into a a fight with virtually everyone on the show, including one of the trainers. Despite the fact that I watched this show when it was on TV, I still have no idea what his confrontational stance was about.
In one infamous scene, he drove almost every celebrity contestant off the set before challenging one of the trainers to "physical combat." It's reality TV gold, but it really portrays the drastic turn that Screech has taken since we adored him in the nineties.
In 2009, Diamond wrote a book called Behind the Bell that was touted as an honest look at life behind the scenes of Saved by the Bell. It included many unflattering portraits of his co-stars, detailing unsavory episodes of fist fights, pot smoking, and numerous cast member hook-ups. Everything was cast in the most negative light possible, leading to his former co-stars to criticize the book as totally unfounded.
In an interview with Oprah, he claimed that the book was entirely ghost written by an author who interviewed him and used his answers to form the core of the book. He admitted that many parts of the book, including teen sex, drug use, and rape, were entirely fabricated.
This book led to a major falling out with the rest of the cast, and I would wager the strained relationship is part of the reason he didn't show up on Jimmy Fallon's reunion.
Bar Brawl Arrest
Most recently in December 2014, Diamond was arrested in his home state of Wisconsin for getting into a fight with a couple who was taking his picture from afar. When Diamond realized what was happening, he pulled a switchblade on them.
He has since been charged with recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct, and carrying a concealed weapon, but he's pleading not guilty. From his account, the fight began after he refused to shake hands with the woman who was on the other side of the fight.
I know all of this has got to be hard to hear. I was bowled over to find out that innocent little Screech became associated with so many sad scandals. Compared to this slew of chaotic moments, did Screech's elusive love Lisa fare any better?
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Where's Lisa Turtle these days?
Good news! Lark Voorhies did not actively snub the reunion, and she really wanted to be there. According to her publicist's comments to E! News, "Lark would have loved to be part of the Jimmy Fallon skit (as she is a big fan of the show), however due to an intense work schedule she was not available." I'm so glad to hear that Lisa is still getting active work, but I would have loved to see her back with the gang.
A New Look
Voorhies has thankfully not racked up a rap sheet like Diamond, but, according to many reports since Saved by the Bell wrapped, Voorhies is allegedly dealing with her own struggles. She's still getting acting work in small indies, but she's made more headlines lately for her erratic behavior and nearly unrecognizable appearance marked by peculiar make-up.
When she sat down for an interview with The Yo Show on Yahoo!, fans were absolutely floored to see her appearance. Despite her claims that she is extremely busy, she is not photographed often, so this was first time many of us saw her.
Mental Health Struggles?
After the stir that video caused, Voorhies's mother spoke to People magazine and said that her daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that was the cause of her behavior. In a strange twist to the story, Voorhies has fully denied the so-called rumors of any mental health problems in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
At the end of the video, however, she exhibits the same kind of rambling that made people suspicious in the first place.
It is a small "opionata" that is getting blown thoroughly out of proportion. I have no stating reasons why anyone should worry about me. I mean clearly I am a very strong, top-of-the-line, always-rising-to-it personage, and I have no worries myself, nor do I exude, exhibit, or possess within my living stratus any reason why anyone should worry on my behalf. It's completely fictional.
This response has not put any of the rumors to rest, and, in fact, it's only fueled more interest in child star's well-being.
When I found out that Voorhies had published multiple books, I was ecstatic. I thought she had discovered a pursuit that made sense to her and allowed Lisa Turtle the kind of creative expression we haven't seen since Saved by the Bell.
Sadly, when I looked into these books, I found more of the same incomprehensible mumbo jumbo that is just like her statement above. One of her books is called True Light: A, superior, take, unto, the, premier, haloing, of, tenuation. Readily, available, True Light, provides, resource, into, time's, motifed, and, vestuved, authenticate, revelation. Just for clarity's sake.
All of that punctuation appears in the actual title, and when I tried to read an excerpt of the book, it was riddled with the same kind of strange writing style. Based on this alone, I could not be more intrigued by Voorhies right now, but I don't have definitive answers on how she's really doing.
She's says she's doing fine, but doesn't all of this evidence tell us otherwise?
Where will they go from here?
I started looking into Lisa and Screech just to find out what two of my favorite nineties characters were up to in their adulthood. I certainly didn't expect my nostalgia to lead to some of the most gut-wrenching realizations I've had in a long time.
All I can say is that I want Dustin and Lark to come back to a reunion one of these days, and I hope that they find whatever it takes for them to get back on board with the rest of the cast. Also, I'm sincerely sorry if I've effectively ruined your childhoods.
Were all of these soul-crushing incidents too much to handle, or do you think Screech and Lisa will one day return to the gang?
Were you shocked to find out where Lisa and Screech have really been all these years?
[Poll Image Credit: NBC]