Product: Beverly Hills 90210
Don’t deny it! You watched. I know I did. I still watch on SoapNet each day. So, can I really say I’m nostalgic for something that I’m still watching twenty-three years later? Well, yeah. I watch and I still remember the clothes, slang, hair, and music that grabbed me from my high school years all the way past the birth of my first son. Okay, I’m calling nostalgia on this one.
Today’s Tx4 spotlight goes to this Aaron Spelling-produced hit and an American teen drama, set in the eponymous Los Angeles neighborhood, which ran for ten years (starting in 1990 and ending in 2000) on the FOX network (before it went crazy with crappy reality shows and that one sister channel who shall remain nameless). When I watched, it air on WTXF Channel 29 in Philadelphia (my hometown) on either Wednesdays or Thursdays. Whatever. I don’t recall. Blame aging.
Since it was a teen drama primarily (which then became an young adult show), the focus was on their lives in the city and it tackled many “message” episodes. What’s a “message episode”? Whenever a show “discussed” racism, sexism, drugs, Bulimia, teen violence and so forth in a pretty 30 or 60 minute package often with unrealistic settings and solutions, you found yourself watching a “message episode”. For example, Brenda Walsh, one of the two primary protagonists, served as a listener to a teen help line and would listen each night to a young girl’s plea for support after being raped daily by two athletes. She discovers a pattern and, voila, saves the girl from further repeated assaults.
So, as I was saying, the show followed a cult, ahem, a group of friends and their daily lives. Following cliched characters, you had:
A. The Fish Out of Water turned “Bitch” = Brenda Walsh. She wasn’t really a “bitch”. Unfortunately, when you speak up for yourself and refuse to be mistreated, television writers shame you into a corner for a timeout.
B. The other, Fish Out of Water, Brandon Walsh, Brenda’s twin, served as the hero of the show as he was the voice of reason, and often spearheaded many of the “message” episodes. Later, I just found him unrealistically gallant and pompous.
C. “The Bad Girl Turned Bad”, and in later seasons, “The Mary Sue/Chick That Had to Be Saved and Special”, Kelly Taylor. I liked her at first when I was a teenager. But, as I got older, she was annoying, snotty, and apparently an amnesiac, as she forgot her “wicked” ways and judged everyone around her. By the way, with the exception of David, she slept with all the male friends within the cult, er, group. That would never have flown when I was a teen. But, whatever. This is television.
D. Steve Sanders, “The Jerk Who Supposedly Grows Up to Show a Even Deeper Level of Jerkdom”. I’ll leave it at that. But, to be honest, Ian Zierling, you look good and I’m sorry for ignoring you to join both the Team Brandon and Team Dylan camps.
E. Dylan McKay, “The Supposedly Delicious Brooding and Deep Bad Boy”, yeah, many a girl, including me, fell for him. As I got older, he was a jerk who was really just a little shi-, um, too arrogant for his own good and not deep at all.
F. “The I’m Too Old To Pass As A Teen, But Let’s Roll With It Anyway”, Andrea Zuckerman. You never fooled ANYONE and, after preaching birth control throughout West Beverly, you got pregnant in your first year of college. Whatever, Girl. Whatever.
G. Donna “The Virgin” Martin. Kudos for bringing virginity and abstinence as good options to television. However, you lost me, after you started sleeping with others later on. I guess you learned what you were missing and kind of hated yourself for waiting so long. I’ll go with that excuse. (Plus, who says Nepotism doesn’t hurt anyone?)
H. David “If I Could Wake Up Black, I Would” Silver. Dude, you were corny and every one knew it. Yeah, it was great that you loved Hip-Hop and other cool music genres. But, don’t sing or dance. No, “you’re not so precious” to me. (That last phrase should mean something to the former viewers.) Just go away. What you did to Scott should give you some bad karma for a while. Not cool!
I could give a dissertation about each and every episode. But, I won’t. You can catch the show daily on SoapNet, like I do, and wonder why I liked this show or why I “liked” these unlikeable “frenemies”. Oh, yes. They were “frenemies” (friend + enemy). With all the backstabbing, hurting, gossiping, and group incest going on, why were they friends? Also, be damned, if you were from outside of the cult, dang that word again, group. They were outright nasty to you.
Yet, I watched, and continue to watch, because it’s a 90s drugs that was burned into my psyche at fourteen and I simply can’t turn away. Nowadays, I enjoy screaming at these fools for their shenanigans. Would I have befriended them? Perhaps, back in 1990, when I was still trying to figure myself out. Eventually, like most of the foods and fads I digested, their friendship would’ve left a bad taste in my life.
Seriously, Andrea. You fooled NO ONE!