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Happy 9/02/10: Looking Back At Beverly Hills 90210

As it is officially 9/02/10, I felt there could be no better time for me to admit that I was and am a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210. I’ve seen every episode of the original series and since I’m confessing things, I’ll go a step further and admit that I TiVo the reruns on the SOAP network and watch them when the mood strikes, which lately is usually right around when I get home from work and am ready to let my brain relax to a mushy state for a little while.

I’m not here to argue that Beverly Hills, 90210 was the best show of the ‘90’s or even among the greatest drama series. I don’t watch the remake on The CW. I’ve long-since outgrown this kind of soapy drama, for the most part. But watching Beverly Hills, 90210 now is like digging out my big book of CDs or coming across an old cassette mix-tape (and wishing I had something to play it on). Every episode seems to trigger associations with wherever I was in my life when I first watched it. Much like with music, if I associate White Zombie’s “Astro Creep-2000” album with senior year of high school, then Brenda and Dylan’s “very special” Spring Dance episode automatically makes me think of seventh grade, when I watched intently and wondered if, “OMG (except back then we said things in words, not letters), was it really going to 'happen' for Brenda and Dylan?! Their love is forever!!!”

Since I just dated myself, there’s no sense holding back now. I was in seventh grade when Beverly Hills, 90210 premiered. The series ended in 2000, the same year I graduated college. 90210 was around for the full duration of my adolescence, and I watched from beginning to end.

Could I relate to the characters? No. None of them. At all. I didn’t act like them, talk like them, dress like them or look like them, now would I ever. They weren’t a reflection of my life in any way. That didn’t matter though. The appreciation I had for the series was never about reality. It was all about the drama. It was about the Brenda-Dylan-Kelly love triangle. It was about Brandon’s political aspirations and Donna saving herself until marriage (or college graduation, whichever came first). It was about David’s ever-budding music career and Steve’s latest scheme to get rich(er). It was about heartbreak and scandal and one-hit-wonder musical guest appearances. For better or worse, I stuck with the series and there could be no better day than today to admit that I still enjoy it to some extent, mostly for nostalgic reasons.

In celebration of 9/02/10, here are a few random things I’ve noticed while revisiting the series in reruns over the years.

1. High School Took Longer Than Usual

I’m pretty sure most of the West Bev gang repeated their junior year. The series started with the Walsh twins beginning their junior year at West Beverly High. In Season 2, they were juniors again. I don’t know if it was ever specified but there was definitely a summer-period between their first junior year and Junior Year 2.0. Maybe they were in some sort of between-grade. Then in Season 3 they were seniors and finally allowed to graduate. David’s grade-jump was the only one that was ever explained as he started out a freshman, and then in Season 2, he was a sophomore. Finally in the third season, he did his junior and senior year together so he could graduate with his friends.

Graduating presented its own problem for some of the characters Steve almost didn’t graduate after getting busted for trying to change his grades. And Donna was nearly expelled for being plastered at the prom. Thanks to the passionate students at West Bev, who chanted “Donna Martin Graduates” loudly (and angrily protested dress codes), Donna was permitted to graduate.

2. Kelly And Dylan Had It The Worst

Sure, lots of bad things happened to the rest of the gang. Brandon had a gambling problem. Andrea got hit by a car. Brenda got attacked by a creepy burglar at the Peach Pit. Donna almost got raped, was abused by her cheesy-singing boyfriend, and got addicted to pain killers. Meanwhile, Dylan’s Dad was “killed,” his wife was shot and killed, he had all his money stolen and he was nearly killed by a couple of drug-dealing siblings. Kelly was raped, shot, joined a cult, got burned in a fire, got addicted to diet pills, got addicted to cocaine and got stalked. Dylan was always a bit of a tragic rebel but why was Kelly the series’ punching bag?

3. The Buffy-90210 Connection

I’ve come across a number of links between 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not only was Torrance High School the set for both shows in their high school years, but the series shares more than one cast-member. Seth Green (Oz in Buffy), played Garrett, one of the two dorky guys set up on a double date with Brenda and Kelly. Paige Moss (werewolf Veruca in Buffy) was Kelly’s rehab-pal-turned stalker, Tara. And Emma Caulfield (Anya in Buffy) played Brandon’s feminist girlfriend Susan in Season 6. For some looser connections, Luke Perry (Dylan) was in Buffy (the movie), as were David Arquette, who played Brandon’s girlfriend Nicki’s angry rocker-ex and Hillary Swank, who played Steve’s girlfriend Carly in the post-college years of 90210. And for an even looser link, Daniel Dae Kim played Kelly’s doctor after she got shot. He was also one of the lawyers at Wolfram & Hart in Angel.

4. Before They Were Famous

Daniel Dae Kim and David Arquette weren’t the only random people to appear in 90210 in their before-they-were -famous years. One of the funnier aspects of watching this series in reruns is spotting people like Eva Longoria, Ryan Seacrest and Matthew Perry. Seacrest played a game-show host, Longoria was “Flight Attendant #3,” and Matthew Perry was a tortured rich-kid.

5. The Show Was Never Quite The Same Without Brenda

Kelly West
Kelly West

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.