By Jessica Shaw
September 24, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

High school? Did that. Now watch America’s trendiest teens conspicuously consume their way through the best four years of their life. That’s right: Dylan, Brandon, Brenda, Kelly, Donna, Steve, Andrea, and David have traded West Beverly High (90210) for California University (90041)-Occidental College in real life, ”the prettiest campus in Southern California,” according to producer Jessica Klein. Well, we would certainly hope so. And what will this mean for our eight frosh? ”It’s allowing us to have more story lines,” says Gabrielle Carteris, 90210’s token brain, Andrea (the one who, very believably, turned down Yale for a scholarship at CU). And those new story lines would include? Anti-Semitism, sexuality, racism. ”We’re really going to stretch the boundaries,” says Carteris. Wait-did somebody say racism? Yes, it’s true: Our sheltered octet will finally face a student population with a realistic 35 percent minorities! ”They’re making an effort, but it still is just tokenism,” insists Angel Cervantes, 20, Occidental’s student-body president, who is skeptical of the show’s efforts to replicate real life. Cervantes happened to pass by the school quad-the huge lawn where students hang out-as the 90210 crew was shooting a segment about Club Day, when campus activity groups push their paraphernalia in an attempt to attract new members. Cervantes noticed a Chicano Studies Club placard next to the Surf Club, Republican Club, and Progressive Club tables. He found a producer and, after pointing out that Chicano Studies is an academic department that shouldn’t be lumped in with extracurricular activities, convinced her to replace the Chicano Studies sign with one for MEChA (El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, a Chicano student organization). But the next day the Chicano Studies sign was back up. ”I respect the show for trying to be inclusive of people,” Cervantes says. ”But they have to get consultants who know about, for example, the Chicano movement. If they really want to portray a diverse campus, they have to get their facts straight.” ”If the show were true to life, there would also be a lot more fat, ugly, geeky, and badly dressed people walking around,” adds Kami Frankel, 20, an English and comparative literary studies major. ”And things would not be resolved in 45 minutes.” What would make a realistic Occidental/CU story line? ”Brandon and Kelly should be struggling with more existential concerns-questions of identity, and making sense of a puzzling existence,” says dean of students Dr. Eric Newhall. Other issues troubling Occidental’s students: free speech, sexual harassment, clashing ethnicities, and, with up to 70 percent getting some kind of financial aid, the high price of education. But then we are talking about Beverly Hills, 90210, which has never been accused of-or loved for-being a slave to reality. Would we honestly want to see Donna on an allowance, too strapped to change her outfit four or five times a day? Or any of them, like, studying? How sexy is that? Last season’s Class of ’96, one of the better shows about college life, tried for a semblance of reality. Look how long that lasted. So Kelly and Donna will be living with David in a trendily decorated beach apartment, Dylan will stay at his bachelor pad, and the twins (Brenda is back after dropping out of the University of Minnesota) will remain at home with their parents, Cindy and Jim. (Only Andrea must endure a drab dorm room.) Brenda will try to pursue an acting career; Donna and David will audition to be radio deejays. Andrea will go out for The Condor, CU’s newspaper, for which she’ll write a restaurant review as initiation. And speaking of initiations, we’ll also be seeing the predictable-but-rife- with-potential-drama episodes on Greek life: Steve (Ian Ziering) joins Kappa Epsilon Gamma (KEG-get it?) and battles a drinking problem; Kelly, Donna, and Andrea pledge a sorority. Classroom scenes will pop up occasionally, but mostly the show will focus on relationships. ”Relationships are what college is all about,” says Ziering. ”During those four years, a person becomes infinitely more culturally enriched, more socially involved, aware of themselves-their interpersonal skills grow one- hundredfold. Then you take some classes.” And really, in the face of so much on-campus glamour, most of Occidental’s students couldn’t care less about the show’s reality factor. As the students return from summer break, stories of celeb sightings abound: One saw Shannen Doherty (Brenda) sitting by herself reading a book between takes (just like a real student!). Another overheard Jennie Garth (Kelly) chatting to her fiance over the cellular phone that rarely leaves her hand. And while Tori Spelling (Donna) apparently freaks at the sight of a fan’s camera pointed in her direction, most cast members have been willing to interact with students and (after you’ve asked the appropriate bodyguard) sign autographs. So when the Sept. 22 episode rolls around (the first in which Occidental is featured), will the campus be gathered in support of its school? ”We’ll all sit around the TV in our dorms, sure,” says psychology major Paris Chantelle, 20. ”And every time Brenda breaks down crying or flips her hair, we’ll drink.” *