“Respect Selena Gomez” began trending this week after Peacock’s Saved By the Bell reboot joked about the star’s health multiple times. Enraged Selenators took to social media to voice their disdain over the series using the 28-year-old entertainer’s kidney transplant as a punchline. Their cries, which included tweets, Instagrams and even commenting on posts from actor’s like Mario Lopez, were heard loud and clear by the new NBCUniversal streaming service, eliciting an apology. However, their statement isn’t sitting well with the other party involved: Francia Raisa.
First, we’ll fill you in on what exactly was said. Despite Selena’s public reveal that she received a kidney transplant from her then-BFF Francia, a scene in episode six of the show speculated otherwise. “I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it,” one student says in a scene. “Prove what?” replies another. “That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.”
Things worsened with a simultaneously subtle and brutal second reference to the star’s health. In another scene, “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” appears to be graffitied on the wall. After the fallout, Peacock, NBCUniversal and the show’s executive producers whipped up an apology to Variety.
“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health. We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC,” the statement reads.
While Selena herself has yet to address the incident, Francia broke her silence. “Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall,” she tweeted in direct response to the network’s statement.
Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall https://t.co/HIwa30PKMM— Francia Raisa (@franciaraisa) November 28, 2020
In a second tweet, she wrote: “As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!”
Taking things a step further, Francia reiterated the response on her Instagram Story, revealing that some of the cast and producers reached out to personally apologize to her. While she said she appreciates that, she believes the network’s apology should also include the donors out there who were potentially offended.
Back in 2017, Selena revealed that she underwent a kidney transplant due to her lupus diagnosis. At the time she thanked everyone for their support, but mostly Francia for saving her life: “There aren‘t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis. Lupus continues to be very misunderstood but progress is being made.“