Tiffani Thiessen was instantly brought back to Bayside High.
Watching teenage costars Paris Berelc and Isabel May on set of Netflix’s Alexa & Katie, was “truly like seeing myself over again in a flashback,” recalls the Saved by the Bell alum, who began her career at just 15. “It’s a sitcom. They’re of that age and it involves high school.”
The most obvious difference: technology. “The phones are smaller!” the 44-year-old says. “You can do more on a phone now then you could back then, which was just talk.”
Of course, there’s plenty to discuss on the family comedy. Thiessen plays overprotective mom Lori, whose daughter Alexa (Berelc) is undergoing chemotherapy treatments during her freshman year of high school.
“We’re trying to normalize cancer,” she explains, noting the disease brings the teen closer to her best friend Katie (May). “It’s something that helps create that friendship and shows why that relationship is what it is and how this has made them even stronger.
Their bond is an example she believes audiences desperately need. “Right now, with women’s empowerment, it’s all about building people up and not tearing them down, which is so much on TV,” says the mom of Harper, 7, and Holt, 2 (with husband Brady Smith). “If I see another Housewives, right?”
Not that she’s necessarily opposed to the trash-talking catty one-upmanship of reality television. “They’re great shows, don’t get me wrong,” continues Thiessen. “It’s very entertaining and makes you escape. But this is different. I think it’s sweet that it’s about two girls who are really about accepting each other’s goods and bads and faults and building each other up. They’re always there, no matter what.”
Alexa & Katie begins streaming on Netflix Friday, March 23.
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