Totally 90s: Kelly Kapowski

Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at a decade defined by its extremes. Rap versus grunge; mullets versus pixies; Saved by the Bell versus NYPD Blue – the 1990s had it all, and then some. Every other week I’ll be reminiscing about some facet of the 1990s, potentially drowning in some ill-forgotten nostalgia despite my best efforts otherwise. Serving as inspiration is an utterly ridiculous but nonetheless intriguing list created by Huffington Post — 1990 Things from the 90s to End the Nostalgia Once and for All – and I’ll be using a random number generator to pick each week’s “topic.” So don’t have a cow, man, if I ask you to talk to the hand while take this sweet ride through the 90s. Word to your mother. 


Week 7: HuffPost list #369 – Kelly Kapowski

There are a lot of things I could say here. (Wow, look at those pants! Boy oh boy, Keds will never go out of style, eh?)

Some this you might expect me to say. (Saved by the Bell? Never heard of it. Haha jk…of course I’ve heard of it, silly pants!)

And others that I should probably keep to myself. (…)

Also, it was a little creepy going out online to find pictures of Ms. (Mrs?) Thiessen here, because there are an awful lot of shots of her in her underthings. But then I remembered that was a 90s trend, too: underwear as outwear. Oh, the memories.

But I digress.

Much like with me and lots of 90s TV, the original run of Saved by the Bell occurred during a time when I wasn’t much around a TV. (Though as late teen, I probably was its most vied-for audience.) From what I recall then, it was regularly shown in the afternoons, right around the time I’d usually be getting home from school. That span of time between getting home and dinner was reserved for homework (or decompressing with the radio in my room), because the TV I really wanted to watch was the prime time stuff. And in order for me to do that, I had to make sure my homework was done. As such, the afternoon TV schedule eluded me.

However, for a time, “Zack and Kelly” became a well-known phrase among my peers. (I even saw such emblazoned on shirts in the local mall…never saw anyone actually wearing one…) Talking about the show was, again, for a time, popular among folks with whom I sat for lunch. It was there that I learned all about Zack and Kelly and Jessie and Screech and Slater and Kelly. I learned people were quite fond of the supposedly on-again, off-again relationship between the ever-hyphenated and good-looking Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski). (Have they all gotten rid of the hyphens, because all that was a pain in the ass to type.) I learned that Kelly seemed to be the fashion plate of the group — in my mind now, like the high-school version of Rachel from Friends — the “pretty” one but not the “ditzy” one, the daydreamer, the princess, the cheerleader, the go-getter. There seemed to more admiration for Kelly Kapowski than jealousy.

None of this really resonated with me, nor did it make me want to watch the show. And yet, I still remember girls in my class trying to achieve “Kelly” hair. Wearing bike shorts and crop tops and keds in the preppiest manner. I distinctly remember a friend who nearly always wore floral jeans “because Kelly did.” I remember that a girl in my class almost got sent home for wearing a sports bra with jeans and suspenders (that latter being a much worse fashion crime, methinks), but she agreed to cover up wearing her jean jacket that had a giant picture of Kelly Kapowski adhered to the back. (I sat behind her, the girl who almost got sent home, in English class. If I were to never forget Kelly Kapowski, it would be because of that day I sat starting at her giant face for 45 minutes straight.)

So, I couldn’t tell you a thing about Kelly Kapowski, except the things I’ve told you hear. None of which are really about Kelly Kapowski.

Or are they?

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