Am I the only one who was aghast at seeing, just four minutes into last night’s premiere of 90210, two teens having oral sex in the school parking lot? Okay, we didn’t actually see a sex act, but we saw newly arrived Kansan emigré Annie spotting her old beau Ethan (Dustin Milligan, pictured) through the windshield of his parked car as he sat in the driver’s seat, and then we witnessed Annie’s horror as she saw his partner’s head popping up from below the dashboard. (This was the pilot episode’s “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” moment — which, not coincidentally, was the episode’s title.)
Now, I realize the new 90210 has to make a splash on the CW, a network that also airs Gossip Girl (and in this regard, it seems to have succeeded, according to early ratings estimates, drawing better numbers than the GG season 2 premiere the night before and holding most of its audience for all two hours of the pilot). And I realize that the show’s creators must have wanted a “This is not your parents’ 90210” moment in there in order to seem cutting edge. (Even returning 90210 alumnae Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty told EW they found the moment shocking enough to make original 90210 producer Aaron Spelling spin in his grave.) Still, this scene was kinda gratuitous, no? For plot purposes, Annie needed to see Ethan cheating on his girlfriend Naomi, but spotting the illicit pair making out would have worked just as well, as illustrated later in the episode where Naomi seeks revenge merely by kissing Ethan’s lacrosse teammate. Besides, the offending incident aired just minutes after 8 p.m. (Or, for many viewers, 7 p.m.) Here’s a show clearly designed to attract both kids and their parents who watched the original show back in the
Mesozoic Era 1990s, and here was a situation that would surely make both kids and their parents wince and squirm if they were watching together.
Am I being a Parents Television Council prude here? Is this really no big deal, just a matter-of-fact depiction of the way many teens start off their school day? Or were you taken aback as well? And do you think the shock tactics will continue past the pilot, or have the writers made their point, leaving only relatively tame content, in the vein of the pilot’s second hour, from now on?
addCredit(“Dustin Milligan: Michael Desmond”)