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The New 90210

September 23, 2008

90210 kelly brenda donnaI was definitely a fan of the original Beverly Hills 90210 in the 1990’s—and still am, though for different reasons. It was the ultimate teen drama, and the only one of its kind to survive past high-school, through college, and even beyond into “real life.” 90210 went on for 10 years, spanning the entire decade of the 90s—from the time I was 9 years old, up to my 19th year. By the end of its run, the show was markedly different from when it began—just like all its viewers. The high school years were old-fashioned television, full of morality tales—every episode contained a “lesson.” The “down-to-Earth” Minnesota-raised twins, Brenda and Brandon Walsh (really creative parents there, huh?), were presented in sharp contrast to the glamorous Hollywood types of the Hills. The first season depicted the twins’ trials and tribulations in trying to fit in with their more scandalous peers, without losing their small-town values. In most episodes Brandon and/ or Brenda were tempted to the dark-side (the moral low-ground inhabited by Dylan, Kelly, and Steve). Whether the issue of the week was drinking, drugs, shop-lifting, sex, lying to their parents, gossip, or any other problem attributed to young people, the twins would realize that they needed to do the right thing. Aaawwww shucks. The “lessons” are very heavy-handed, dropping anvil-like at the end of the episode. But back then we didn’t notice such clumsy writing, and it was awesome. Oh, to be young and oblivious …

Once Brenda left, followed later by the Walsh parents (thank God!), it became a lot more soapy, and way more fun. New characters such as Valerie (a.k.a. Kelly Kapowski–LOVE her) changed the landscape of the show, and a constantly revolving door of love interests made the show all about the relationships. It was purely gratuitous television and I loved every moment of it.

The new 90210 seems to be a blend of both sides of the show—morality play + soap opera. Annie and Dixon, the new Brenda and Brandon, retain a lot of the qualities of the early years of the original show. Subsequently, they are my least favorite characters. However, the rest of the show provides a lot of potential. Naomi and Silver are both compelling, and there’s hope for the show to develop some real complexity in their story arcs. Also, Rob Thomas helped create the revitalized concept for the show, so I have a faint hope that some Veronica Marsish tones might arise. However, all the guys are weak characters, and there is not yet a teen heart-throb in the making—a marked weakness for a teen drama I must say. We need a Logan Echolls right away!!!!  


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