When Selena Gomez had a kidney transplant to save her life almost four years ago, she had no idea that the potentially life-threatening surgery would unfortunately end up becoming the punchline of several scripts down the line. The most recent discussion of her health has the pop star speaking out and her passionate fandom mobilising once again.
In 2017, Gomez revealed that she had received a kidney transplant from her friend and fellow actress Francia Raisa after her health declined as a result of lupus. Though the high risk surgery had her out of commission for the summer, the singer was able to recover well, with a scar on her inner thigh as the only evidence of the frightening health issue.
"I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering," she shared in a September 2017 instagram post. "It was what I needed to do for my overall health."
The kidney transplant was part of a very dark moment in Gomez's life, but Hollywood hasn't exactly taken it seriously in the years since. Just last year, the people behind Peacock's Saved by the Bell reboot had to issue an apology after an episode of the show poked fun at the circumstances of the kidney transplant; in the controversial episode, the students at Bayside High School implied that Gomez's former best friend Demi Lovato was actually the liver donor all along.
"We apologise,” read a joint statement from NBCUniversal, Peacock, and Saved by the Bell's executive producers. “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."
Months later, another streaming platform might have to consider issuing a statement after inciting the anger of Gomez and her Selenators. In a recent episode of Paramount+ series The Good Fight, which airs in the UK on More4, the characters make reference to Gomez's surgery during a discussion of topics that are too sensitive to joke about.
"Necrophilia?" answers one character.
"Selena Gomez's transplant!" quips another.
The dialogue quickly attracted criticism from Selenators, who rallied against the scene with so much fervour that "Respect Selena Gomez" started trending on Twitter again. Gomez herself tapped into the conversation, slamming The Good Fight for making light of her health.
"I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing but sadly it has apparently," she tweeted on Thursday, August 3. "I hope in the next writer's room when one of these tasteless jokes are presented it's called out immediately and doesn't make it on air."
"My fans always have my back," Gomez added, also attaching a link for her followers to register to become organ donors. "LOVE YOU."
There is certainly some irony in an episode that questions people's ability to joke about certain controversial topics getting called out for that very thing. But if a year and a half spent under the dark cloud of a global pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we should all have a little care and sensitivity for people's health.
CBS and Paramount+ have yet to respond to Gomez's comments, but if the reaction to the Saved by the Bell joke is any indicator of how far the fandom will go to protect their fave, the platform might have to weigh in, and soon. Note to writer's rooms: some jokes will never sit well.