Problematic Things I Enjoy – Beverly Hills 90210 (A.K.A. The Brenda Walsh Show)

OKay admission of a child of the 90’s – I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210.

Alright, that’s a bit of an understatement my mother still mocks the fact that I watched every episode of the early seasons and would rush out of conversations if it was starting. My main reason for watching this show was – Shannen Doherty/Brenda Walsh. I loved her. Most other fans of 90210 will admit that Brenda was one of the most interesting characters on the show. Her character arc had her going from a sweet girl from Minnesota to a manipulative liar to an animal rights activist. Her popularity was quite obviously helped by the off-screen tabloid appearances and rumors that spoke of major problems between Doherty and Jennie Garth, the actress who played her best friends/main rival through the four seasons she was on the show.

Okay so why is BH 90210 so problematic? 

The class issues alone are enough for a whole series of articles and while I vaguely remember them attempting in inject some class consciousness into the show it was never enough to take away the fact that like it’s successor Dawson’s Creek it was a show about pretty rich white teens that date other pretty rich white teens and have OMG!Melodramatic problems.

And then of course there’s the fact that anytime someone of a different race or class background or sexuality or ability level or size or etc. showed up it was always “a very special episode”. The show had almost no social consciousness anything that could have been a real learning moment was milked for as much meodrama as possible and stereotypes were relied on frequently to shortcut characters and plotlines.

The show was completely and utterly vapid, over-the-top, and had no connection to my life (or I suspect the lives of most folks) but there was something riveting about the show. Something that kept me tuning in for four years I’ve never been able to figure out what. (Some friends claim the joy is in watching the extreme lengths the writers had to go to to create problems for the pretty rich teen boys and girls and that is part of it).

Really I’m just waiting for “Compton”. The show about youth trying to get out of the ghetto, going to college, police harassment, gang involvement – kinda makes whether Dylan is there to meet Kelly or Brenda at the Peach Pit seem kind of like frivolous bullshit AND IT WAS but I still loved the show.

So yes there is a spin-off coming simply called 90210 (creativity does not live here). I’ve been less than enthused about it and hadn’t intended to watch it. That is until I heard that Miss Brenda Walsh will be returning to the show, now a famous theatre actress/director she returns at behest of fictional frenemy Kelly Taylor (play by real frenemy Jennie Garth) to direct the high school musical.

What sparks will fly?

Will Brenda and Kelly get into a knock down drag out fight about their ex-beau Dylan? (Yes please!)

When will the rumors of backstage fights begin?

Will the newbies bow down to the Queen of 90210, Brenda Walsh as they should?

How will Shannen leave the show this time in joy or anger? Well, some questions are rhetorical but you get my meaning.

There’s already been one cast member pushed out before it even began! Tori Spelling who played Donna Martin in the original show was rumored to be returning along with Doherty and Garth until she found out how much they were being paid. This is all rumors but it’s been reported that when Spelling who was being offered 10k-20k per episode found out Garth and Doherty had range of 35k-50k per episode. She demanded parity and the producers refused. While not Doherty’s fault it sure sets the stage for the drama of this new show. I’m in as long as Brenda’s there, once she’s gone so am I.

8 responses to “Problematic Things I Enjoy – Beverly Hills 90210 (A.K.A. The Brenda Walsh Show)

  1. Naamen, you really need to watch Veronica Mars if you haven’t already. It’s like 90210… except it deals with race, class, and sexuality, sometimes all at once, and NOT as “special episodes.” For instance, there was one episode that featured a gay character. No big deal. However, several episodes later, there’s *another* gay-themed episode with other students, and it really hits home that the school doesn’t just have “the token gay kid” but several kids of who aren’t straight, who don’t necessarily get along, are members of different cliques, etc. Wait, I guess that makes it very unlike 90210. Oh well, I guess that’s partly why it got cancelled so quickly. Sigh.

  2. I found the first season of Veronica Mars to be obsessively great watching. I quite enjoyed it. But I found it problematic in terms of race (it’s much better than Buffy, but not as representative, I thought, of SoCal as it could have been), and it struck me as a story about a girl surrounded by male figures; it does definitely pass the Bechdel Test, but secondary female figures are really few and far between. Not that I didn’t love Wallace her as best friend, mind you.

  3. Why would Spelling care about the money? Did Aaron Spelling shaft her in his will? I mean doesn’t she get a percentage of the show no matter what since its a spin-off/sequel to one of her dad’s many shows?

  4. Tommy-
    I do love Veronica Mars. I own the first two seasons and I need to pick up the third season. I just stopped watching during the 3rd seasons because of the rape storyline being way too much for me to deal with but it was an excellent show killed way before its time. It did deal with a lot of issues and at least 10x better than 90210 even attempted.

    I see what you mean about the race issues, there were places where they could have pushed it and did not. But for me to see the haves and haves-not racialized like that was such a huge leap forward and I had hopes they would keep on like that but then they slowly drifted to the world of white upper-class and stayed there. I wish she had a female best friends as well, Veronica is always either antagonistic towards other women (usually with good reason and Veronica is antagonistic towards everyone really) or they don’t last on the series, except for Mac who I love like burning.

    Aaron cut her out of the will completely and left everything to his wife/her mother Candy who she does not get along with at all so she’s cut off from any of the Spelling fortune.

  5. je suis desole pour la mort de votre actrice je vous fait toutes mes colederence pour cette actrice

  6. te extrañe mucho shannen 😦

    no estaba alli 90210

    hoy yo estoy viendo tele a las 17hs canal sony

    pero no esta brenda 😦 no quiero volver 5ºtemporada 90210!

    yo estoy muy triste pero yo la quiero mucho brenda linda.

    para que sigue valerie hijo de puta y feaaaaaaaa

    la amo brenda eres muy valiente y hermosita!

    los amo mucho 90210!

    q genial programa mejor 90210 m encanto eso.

    te quierooooooooooo 100% BRENDA WALSH TE AMOOOO

  7. 😦








  8. I liked Brenda Walsh Because she is Beautiful wonderful Amazing Supporting Actress i Ever known She has a beautiful Heart in her Entire Life She for Dylan Shares one other i think one other that Holds on Shannon doherty She Discovers World of love Warm And Passion Alheli Carles

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