Beverly Hills, 90210 dominated prime time television for the entire decade, and I am not embarrassed to say that I still enjoy it. That's why, on bitter Tuesdays, when I know I won't be home at 4:00, I realize that staying up till 3 a.m. to catch the episode is my only alternative option. Why not record the episode, you ask? Simply because my VCR is broken, and I'm too broke to buy a new one. Oh, and why not miss one episode, you wonder? Well, then I'd be lost on Wednesday... they play them in sequence my friends.
As this program was the most popular teen drama of the 90's, I will argue strongly that it lies as the precursor to many programs of the new millennium . Almost everything about the show is entirely corny - that is undeniable. But watch this clip here, and you will recognize how the show encapsulates many aspects of "teen life" that are still portrayed in primetime dramas we watch today. (well, some of us watch today. Oh, and sorry for the foreign words on screen ) In under nine minutes, this clip includes instances of/references to: betrayal, fist fighting, booze, sex, virginity, relationship break up/ make up, love triangles, parental issues, peer pressure, rich kids, a dreamboat boyfriend, a saviour mother, and of course intense climactic music to accompany each scene. Throw in a little teen pregnancy and some more gossip, and the modern day formula for teen drama would be complete.
So what are these "teen dramas" of today that I keep talking about? They are the programs that, (usually unsuccessfully) mimic or re-tell storylines from 90210:
Though it's been cancelled from FOX, this show also followed the life of a few, hot rich kids, residing in California, whom all ran to "the saviour parental figure(s)" when any trouble arose. (in 90210, the Walshes solved the problems, but in The O.C., it was all about the Cohens). The love triangles, fist fighting, parental conflict, and relationship betrayal was all there. I suppose it's main difference when being compared to 90210 would be that a) the geek was actually hot and b) the main female character turned into a lesbian for about 5 episodes.
One Tree Hill
No rich kids, and not in California, but the teen pregnancy, the recurring love triangles and the boozing in this show are strongly reminiscent of instances in 90210. ( i.e.- Andrea giving birth while in college, the Brenda/Dylan/Kelly love fiasco, and of course, the drinking). However, the show varies mostly from 90210 in it's inclusion of creepy stalkers and even, murder. Beverly Hills was too upper-class for that.
Again with the beautiful rich kids, but this time in Manhattan, this show relies heavily on gossip (hence the title). Messy cat fights, peer pressure, and naughty love triangles drive the plot into what the show is: a pathetic attempt to make interesting all the storylines we have been watching since 1990 when 90210 began. Don't waste your time
In fear that this blog has turned into a review of modern day teen dramas, I will state that I referred to them simply to prove this point. 90210 was essentially the show that began the teen drama craze. As unrealistic and corny the episodes sometimes were, that was just the way television was in the 90's (think: FullHouse). Since the show ended after 10 seasons in 2000, other programs have attempted to re-work the storylines, but sometimes with lower ratings and success rates (The O.C. = cancelled after 4 seasons)
In short, the partying, the dramatic arguments, and the never ending love triangles just worked in 90210 because it was the first program to bring all these issues together on screen. These on screen issues were so popular amongst viewers that, a decade later, we still see them recycled all over the place while watching prime time. But, in my busy life of school and work, primetime TV is like a delicacy I can rarely experience, and instead, I happily opt for the post primetime options, and enjoy watching 90's reruns of 90210 in the wee hours of the morning. Woohoo, only an hour left till today's episode!