Despite its myriad of improvements over the course of the past three seasons, last night’s Prom-centric episode of 90210 crystallized an issue that has been plaguing the troubled series since its hastily crafted inception.
That issue? The astonishing misuse of West Beverly High.
One of the biggest appeals of its predecessor BEVERLY HILLS 90210 was the fact that audiences truly believed these kids went to high school. From Andrea Zuckerman’s academic intensity and Steve Sanders’ failing grades, to Donna Martin’s learning disability and subsequent fight to graduate, West Beverly High wasn’t just a home to the occasional sexual assault by a trusted teacher, it was a living and breathing entity at the center of these kid’s universe that helped fuel a wonderful world of storylines that fans could not only relate to, but cared about. As New York was to SEX AND THE CITY, West Beverly High was a character on the show.
Contrast that to not just last night’s episode that saw Naomi and Teddy inexplicably be awarded Prom King and Queen amidst a gaggle of faceless admirers, but virtually any mention about a character’s College aspirations. Seriously. How a show can possibly expect us to care about stories related to anything academic when West Beverly High has played such a minuscule part in these character’s lives is astounding. Particularly when the only subject the likes of fame-obsessed Adrianna, power-hungry Naomi and actress-wannabe Annie have ever shown any actual interested in is… themselves.
Where the original series excelled in creating drama out of everyday high school events such as exams and dances, the current edition has a penchant for relying on bizarre and completely unrelatable story-lines, each more unbelievable than the next. Annie becomes a glorified cleaning lady to an aging Hollywood starlet! Adrianna attempts for the umpteen time to hold onto her fifteen minutes of fame! Naomi is almost swindled out of her fortune by a holistic guru! Look, we get that the ratings-challenged CW feels the need to latch onto the self-absorbed and narcissistic “look-at-me” nature of our society that shows like TEEN MOM, JERSEY SHORE and AMERICAN IDOL have so successfully tapped into. That said, we can’t help but wonder what 90210’s high school years might have been like, had the show bothered to put any emphasis at all on the ‘school’ part of them.