Lifetime has continued its streak of over-dramatized yet highly entertaining “unauthorized” biopics, this time taking on the first — if not arguably the best — teen soap to ever hit primetime. When Beverly Hills, 90210 premiered on Oct. 4, 1990, the TV landscape changed forever, Aaron Spelling delivered (eventually) another mega hit, and we all became obsessed with a group of teens from America’s most popular zipcode.
But what went on behind the scenes besides, well, everyone apparently hating star Shannen Doherty? Which co-stars were making out? (Spoiler alert: All of them.) Which storyline sent executives into panic? Here are the 21 things we learned about the show’s first four seasons — Lifetime ended the movie following Doherty’s departure — from the unauthorized story.
1. Fox scored merchandising rights to Beverly Hills high school, but Spelling (played by Dan Castellaneta) initially said no to the “thirtysomething for teenagers” pitch because “following high school kids around ‘aint an escape.” But we can thank his daughter Tori Spelling (Abby Ross) for convincing him that the TV audience was getting younger and cooler.
2. Jennie Garth (Abbie Cobb) was originally offered the musical Hall High on NBC, but wanted to wait to see if something better came along. It did.
3. Gabrielle Carteris (Michele Goyns) was told by her rep it was too late for Hollywood because she would never make it at “almost 30.” If only Amy Schumer were around then.
4. Luke (Jesy McKinney) was a construction worker. A very hot construction worker.
5. Jason Priestley (Max Lloyd-Jones) lived with Brad Pitt, which Priestley talks a lot about in his memoir. Nice shout out to Thelma and Louise!
6. Another thing we can thank Tori Spelling for? Jason and Shannen (Samantha Munro) getting auditions! But the two were overly flirty and kept being reminded of the fact that they were playing siblings.
7. Tori, who wanted to get a job without her daddy’s help, auditioned as Tori Mitchell. For some unknown reason a casting direction thought, “She sure is likable.”
8. At the first cast meeting Brian Austin Green (Ross Linton) and Tori thought everyone else was soooooo old and made fun of them.
9. Gabrielle applied for bartending job after seeing the pilot because it was that bad.
10. Everyone felt the pilot was missing something so they called on Luke, who swore this would be the final audition he went on before giving up.
11. Ian was a perv and wanted to rehearse kissing with Jennie (as explained in Jennie’s memoir).
12. The show was 92nd in the ratings but hoped that the upcoming AIDS and slumber party episodes would boost it! (Side note: The girls were not outside during the real scene where Kelly says she was raped.)
13. There was A LOT of making out. Jennie and Jason. Luke and Shannen. Brian and Tori. Jennie and Luke. Shannen and Jason.
14. The network threatened to drop the show after Brenda lost her virginity on TV and thought she should stop having sex and “feel remorse.” (Another change in narrative: It was really the spring dance, not the winter dance, where Brenda lost her v-card, and she and Kelly were wearing the same dress. Speaking of dresses, Donna was in a huge red gown she couldn’t move in, not a blue one.) Related: I’m a crazy person for knowing this.
15. Luke and Shannen were really upset that Brenda and Dylan were breaking up.
16. By the first summer season the show was a bona fide hit with Golden Globe nominations for best drama and for Priestley.
17. Jennie and Shannen fought over a red dress in their promo shoot. And then they fought a lot more.
18. Shannen continued to piss people off by dropping out last minute as an Emmy presenter. The execs wanted to fire her, but Aaron and Darren Star (Adam Korson) fought for her.
19. After Shannen was a no-show, again, the cast had a pow wow and agreed they wanted her gone.
20. Tiffani Thiessen (Alyssa Lynch) joined and thought 90210 seemed “way more chill” than her last show. (Ahem, Saved by the Bell.)
21. Tiffani and Brian were dating when she joined, proving the former dork and baby of the group was officially all grown up. (Although he still did this.)
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