Diablo Cody on '90210'
According to several of my bong-dependent friends (and rapper-cum-theologian Weezy), the Mayan apocalypse looms. In 2012, there’s apparently going to be some kind of mass consciousness shift, followed by everyone getting iced by a stupid rogue asteroid. I think there might have even been a major motion picture about this released within the past year, but I was too busy watching ”Mexican Cat Dance” on YouTube to notice.
Well, gang, relax your collective sphincters, because I have proof that these gloomy ramblings are pure nonsense. In fact, I believe that we’re entering a time of transcendent joy and prosperity, a neo-Renaissance, a radiant new era in which once unspeakable dreams drift easily into our outstretched palms. This is evidenced by the fact that (1) one of the New Kids on the Block — nay, my favorite New Kid — e-mailed me recently, and (2) there’s a Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off coming to The CW in September.
You see? Everything’s going to be fine.
I was a religious viewer of Original Recipe 90210 (or, as we called it in college, ”BH-Niner”). To this day, I cannot turn away from an episode; when I was in Paris recently doing press for Juno, I wasted an hour of what should have been a culturally edifying trip watching 90210 in French on my hotel TV. (It was the episode where Steve and Brandon are mistaken for a gay couple by two girls they’re trying to bag. At least that was the B story. The guy dubbing Dylan was incredible; he expertly mimicked Luke Perry’s rasp, yet added a soupçon of seductive Gallic charm.)
And if I love the show now, as a semi-rational, hormonally balanced adult, you can imagine how I reacted when it premiered in the early ’90s. Oh, how I wished my family would move from the Midwest to a Spanish-style pad in Beverly Hills! I envied the perfect parenthetical curve of Kelly Taylor’s bangs, Brenda’s bikinis, and Brandon’s classic car. I wished my local diner was manned by Joe E. Tata, rather than a cantankerous man named Christos. And because of Andrea Zuckerman — sweet, lame Andrea Zuckerman — I was deceived into believing that dorky girls like me should woo gorgeous guys who looked 27. (Ultimately, it didn’t work for Andrea, and it didn’t work for me.)
Now 90210 is returning with an all-new cast of slightly more plausible teens. I’ll be honest: I wish the old cast was back. Ideally, this spin-off would be an Ice Storm-esque exploration of the West Beverly gang’s bleak adult lives. Brenda would be a soccer mom, David Silver a dentist, Steve Sanders the part owner of a miniature-golf emporium in Tujunga. The Peach Pit would have been gutted, floored in faux-pebble linoleum, and converted into a Pinkberry. They could call the show 9021-Old. I know, that’s why I have an Oscar.
The CW must realize that most die-hard fans want to see original cast members, so they’ve acquiesced by hiring Tori Spelling as Donna (she now owns a clothing boutique) and Jennie Garth to play Kelly Taylor, Guidance Counselor. (This is the perfect job for drama addict Kelly, a character who always treated the most mundane situations like extinction-level events.) Besides, the new cast seems fairly appealing. For one thing, there are finally black and Asian kids at West Beverly. And thanks to the precedent set by modern teen shows like Gossip Girl, you know there will be plenty of drinking and sex without all the boring PC moralizing of the original series. I mean, remember when Brenda ”controversially” decided to lose her virginity to Dylan on prom night? That kind of thing happens on a Tuesday morning in the O.C.
Other aspects of the new show promise to be more contemporary as well. I just watched an online promo and saw that well-preserved hottie Lori Loughlin plays Debbie, the token 90210 mom. According to Loughlin, Debbie is ”as cool as her children.” Goodness! We’ve come a long way from Jim and Cindy Walsh, who were so square that they wouldn’t let Brenda drive to Baja with Dylan even though they were TOTALLY IN LOVE. (Raise your hand if you can’t hear ”Losing My Religion” without thinking about Brenda and Dylan’s breakup. Me neither.) There’s even rumored to be an openly gay character on the new series, which is arguably more progressive than that one time Kelly was a lesbian for five minutes.
Yeah, you can mock me for being excited about the new ”BH-Niner.” I choose to view this news as a celestial message from a higher power. Reassurance that someone up there wants us — needs us — to survive. Certainly, the same deity that gave us Donna Martin wouldn’t wing a deadly meteor at our home planet. Right? Besides, I don’t care what people say about this particular obsession. As Kelly Taylor once said, ”I choose me.”