You may have heard that today is considered to be “90210 Day.” Actually, since the date works out to 09-02-10, it would more accurately fit a show called “Beverly Hills 090210,” but that’s too long for a zip code, so let’s just go along with the conventional wisdom.
The original 90210 is eternally addictive in a way that few of its imitators have been. Melrose Place was arguably as big a cultural phenomenon at its peak, but it hasn’t had the same long-term impact, as you can see by the fact that the revival bombed while the 90210 revival has managed to keep going on the strength of its name (and not much else, at this point). The show was a mash-up of several different styles and objectives: it was a socially-conscious teen drama and an Aaron Spelling glamour soap and a controversy-courting early Fox network show and a show that always had to offer constructive morals and role models.
Several of its character archetypes have been unavoidable in teen TV ever since, particularly the lead character who is supposed to be the “moral centre” of the show and is actually a preachy, self-righteous creep. I was able to ask Jason Priestley a few questions recently about his entertaining new show Call Me Fitz, and the last question I couldn’t resist asking him was whether it feels good not to be the guy who’s always preaching at everybody. He said “yes, it’s good to get my hands dirty.” But you know, given a choice between a sleazy Rat Pack obsessed car salesman and Brandon, who would spend all his time telling us how perfect and wonderful he is and how flawed we are, I think many of us would rather hang out with Fitz. (The scary thing would be having to choose whether to hang out with Brandon Walsh or Dawson Leery.)