In a time when it feels like everything is being rebooted, redone, revived, and revamped, it’s hard to differentiate between what’s worth watching and what isn’t. That being said, if you were a Beverly Hills 90210 fan, or if you’re still a fan who watches the reruns on the Pop channel, you’ll want to tune in to BH 90210. Even if the only reason is to watch arguably one of the most iconic casts in television history share a screen for the first time in 19 years. Yes, I know the casts of Cheers, Seinfeld, and MASH are probably more iconic, but still. Unless you have been living under a rock since 1990, you know who these people are because Jason Priestley, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, and Tori Spelling continue to be household names.
So let’s get into the show. BH 90210 in 2019 looks like this: Old friends together again but more aware of who they are and where they came from. The beginning credits brought me right back to the 90s – except now they are all in their 40s and 50s, have had their share of plastic surgery, and have been off the air for 19 years. Yes, 90210 ran from 1990 to 2000 which is quite a feat for a show that was almost cancelled after its first season due to poor ratings.
While there is no question that 90210 made its mark on pop culture, it’s hard to know if a revival will work in any capacity. For example, after six seasons of successful television, the Sex and the City cast enjoyed high praise for the first movie but the second was a disaster. That being said, BH 90210 is a little different because it is both a continuation and a reiteration of what fans tuned into each week for a decade. In short, it’s a show within a show. The brainchild of Garth and Spelling, who have created a parallel universe that resides somewhere between meta, comedic, and reality television, the show depicts the aforementioned actors as heightened versions of themselves headed to a 30thanniversary reunion event after which they decide that they should create a show that reboots the original 90210. It’s a lot to comprehend so here are a few notes from episode one:
- Although some of the actors have clearly paid a visit to the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, after seeing them in a decade’s worth of dramatic situations, it’s fun to watch this group pull off comedy and not take themselves too seriously.
- While jumping around timeframes is nothing new in comedic situations – How I Met Your Mother did it best – I could see how BH 90210 being a show within a show is confusing for viewers. For example, each person/character is a version of themselves but not actually themselves – i.e. Brian Austin Green’s wife is played by La La Anthony (who is a Grammy winning singer in the show) but in real life he is married to Megan Fox. In fact, pretty much everyone’s significant other is played but someone else.
- Instagram is mentioned so much it feels like its own character. As predicted, Doherty needed to make her own, grand entrance which she does via Instagram livestream. The horrified reactionary looks on the faces of the rest of the cast clearly reflect their thoughts on her “surprise” entrance.
- Way too much time is spent on the storyline that centers on Spelling struggling to make ends meet. Although she apparently only inherited a small fraction of her father’s $500 million estate, I’m surprised that she wanted to focus on her financial issues and the cast’s lack of royalties from 90210 merchandise and syndication. It gets old fast and comes off as a desperate attempt to garner sympathy from an audience that isn’t tuning in to sympathize.
- It must be so weird for the cast to watch themselves on old episodes – something that the audience gets to witness as Garth and Spelling hatch their plan for a reboot.
- Scenes for next week’s episode teases cameos from Carol Potter – the actress who played Cindy Walsh aka Brandon and Brenda’s mother – and Christine Elise McCarthy who played Emily Valentine. I can’t wait to hear what those two have to say! Plus, Doherty will actually be joining the cast on screen rather than via Instagram.
- On a somber but important note, I was wondering how they were going to handle Luke Perry’s untimely death (he suffered a massive stroke in March). As expected, it was handled with grace. Perry was my favorite actor on the show and his absence leaves a tragic hole in the cast.
With all the remakes out there, the question is whether or not BH 90210 is worth watching. The answer is yes. I tuned in every Wednesday night when I was in middle and high school it’s fun to be doing it again in my 30s. What’s nice about this show is that it’s more than a trip down nostalgia lane – there is new material here that offers a look behind what was really going on with these people and how the show and their characters shaped their real lives.
In one scene, Garth and Priestley discuss what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t been on the show. Like hit songs created by pop groups, the show is the reason they are famous and also their downfall because it will forever represent what they are known for no matter what else they have done professionally. That’s how iconic this show was, is, and continues to be. Soapy or not, it broke television barriers and set trends in a lot of ways in terms of tough topics, language, storylines, and fashion.
If you’re looking for a new twist on an old concept, set your DVRs (or VHS players if you really want to roll back to the 90s) for BH 90210 and enjoy the comedic nostalgia that breaks new ground with old friends.