This month I’m not going to pretend that the show I’m writing about is a diamond in the rough, 90210 is shit but I love it.
I’m guilty of being a spoiled bitch and wasting $8 a month on Netflix that I will sometimes go months without using. It’s awful, I know, but when I sink my teeth into a show it takes every ounce of will power to not stream episode after episode until I’m wild-eyed and sleep-depraved. I occasionally kid myself into thinking “Oh, I always wanted to check this show out, it looks so stupid I’ll play it in the background while I do laundry.” Inevitably I’ll end up becoming so engrossed in the show I completely abandon folding the hundreds of geeky shirts Pat and I share. Sometimes I discover a show that isn’t getting enough recognition or flies just under our geeky radar and I want to share the love but other times I will watch five seasons of a travesty and I have no excuse except that I was in too deep and couldn’t stop.
2008’s 90210 was definitely one of those shows. I remember watching a handful of episodes when it first aired but then losing track and never caring enough to stay caught up. Last year, while on our honeymoon, I happened to catch a couple episodes on E4 when I was fighting jet lag and I was so hooked. It was trashy and painfully over the top, I couldn’t stop watching. In fact during one of my many Lush baths I ended up starting from the beginning with my laptop balanced on the edge of the tub.
Thankfully 90210 is a continuation of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 that has features both cameos and reoccurring appearances from the old Peach Pit crew. But as the new cast’s stories start to go off in other directions we see a lot less of Brenda and Kelly and a lot more younger, fresher faces. The show manages to hold the same youthful melodrama that made its predecessor so popular but this time around we have lots of up and coming artists unnecessarily performing hit singles on every other episode.
Much like the original series, when the show starts it focuses on two siblings from Kansas who move to Beverly Hills when their dad accepts the principle position at West Bev High. Annie is a sweet-natured theater kid who was reluctant to leave her boyfriend and lead role in the school play while Dixon is out-going and athletic and excited to live the West Coast life. I immediately hated Annie. She plays to every terrible teen girl trope there is and I just wanted her to suffer. Luckily, her time at West Beverly High does not go smoothly and, oh, suffer she does.
Besides Annie and Dixon’s predictably attractive parents the rest of the cast is filled in by the kids’ new friends. There’s edgy, recluse Silver the former best friend of outrageous it-girl Naomi who incidentally is dating Ethan the boy Annie has her eye on. If I could type this and still raise my happy fists in the air I would. There’s also Navid, a rich kid who takes Dixon under his wing and Adrianna who is on the road to being a real actress but whose partying ways might be taking a toll.
Unlike the not so subtle after-school-special vibes of the original whenever “hot topic” issues were addressed 90210 manages to establish a slightly more realistic, though still laughably dramatic, approach. Drug abuse, teen pregnancy, depression and suicide attempts all stand out in the first two seasons and aren’t swept under the rug after a couple episodes. If there is one thing that really holds up in this show is that shit does not go away. There are most definitely consequences some that come back and bite you in the ass years later.
As the show continued some characters came and went, Liam Court, Teddy Montgomery, and Ivy Sullivan join the group moving into position as resident bad boy, gay best friend, and stoner surfer girl, respectively. However, no one gets away with an easy life in Beverly Hills; take poor Mr. Matthews for instance. He is the younger, impossibly attractive teacher who obviously watched Dead Poets Society too many times and hoped to inspire future generations but instead he got this bunch of idiotic hot messes. Did he inspire them? Probably not. How did they thank him? By literally ruining his life.
I blew through four seasons in less than two months and it took less a week for me to watch the fifth season. I can’t explain what sucked me in so completely. Was it Adrianna’s penchant for going bat-shit crazy or Silver’s constantly changing hairstyles, or maybe even Liam’s abs? No, let’s be honest, it was because I kept hoping someone would finally light Annie on fire so she could die a slow, painful death. While I can sadly report that the show doesn’t end with everyone laughing around Annie’s ashes, I was at least able to watch her get shot so, I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
I am not recommending this show to anyone who doesn’t enjoy mindless teenage angst and a whole lot of problems that could have been solved if people were just honest with each other. It’s over 100 episodes of pretty kids who throw parties when they’re not yelling or sleeping with each other. Personally, it ended up being something I’m proud to have made it all the way through. Like my own Everest, I’m standing atop a pile of overly-airbrushed CW alums ready for my next emotional expedition.