All my intellectually snobbish friends look down their noses at me when I talk about the show that I watch every afternoon at 3pm. Well, of course I don’t actually watch it then (I don’t watch anything in its own time slot), I PVR it and watch it when I get home each night. This show is Beverly Hills 90210. Of course I watch the show with a pound of salt and am completely aware of the stereotypes and the unrealistic characters in it. However, my argument against the snide remarks is always the same: a real tv–aholic simply cannot ignore the shows that, though perhaps not of phenomenal artistic merit, made television what it is today.
The adventures of Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, Steve, Donna and David are in many ways responsible for hits like Dawson’s Creek, The O.C. and One Tree Hill. Even cult shows like Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer owe a little to the gang at the Peach Pit. The first major show to be completely centered on the trials and tribulation of a group of high school kids, 90210 spoke to troubles facing teenagers through their own eyes and didn’t talk down to them. The teenagers were intelligent and capable but still made mistakes. The show was about teenagers, they were not simply tools to allow the parent characters to teach their lessons.
Though the writing was contrived, the story lines over dramatic and unbelievable and the characters stereotypical and idealistic, Beverly Hills 90210 laid the ground work for what was later improved upon and became one of the most popular genres in television. 90210 never won a prestigious award, was never critically acclaimed and was never heralded as “good television”, however it was the most watched show of its time and ran for 10 seasons. The young stars were catapulted, at least for a while, to extreme stardom.
Its legacy is undeniable. Beverly Hills 90210, if missed the first time around, is worth watching in syndication on TVTropolis, if only to fully understand the evolution of the teenage drama genre. A true TV fan would be amiss if uneducated on the shows that shaped TV.