90210 Goes to Prom (And in doing so sums up everything that is wrong with this series!)

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.

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  • Nick

    Sorry, gotta disagree with you on this one. Drama about exams and dances? Surely you jest. Wanna drive away the few remaining viewers altogether? On the contrary, 90210 needs to further ramp up the insane, soap-operaish, over-the-top craziness that began to be developed this year. No more snooze-fest episodes.

    Times have changed, and what BH:90210 did successfully in the 90s would draw yawns and remote-clicking today. I direct your attention to Vampire Diaries for pacing, stories and shocking twists that keep viewers engaged and on the edge of their seats.

    Schoolroom “drama” with 30-year-olds isn’t gonna cut it.

  • Nick,
    I’m not against amping up the drama, but at this point what separates 90210 from a glut of teen-centric shows? Answer: Nothing. It’s simply another generic soap without an identity.

  • Anonymous

    But it’s exactly that. This is the most generic teen soap drama out there. There’s no use to try and change that identity three years into the show. This show is about absolutely nothing. Every character is as dispendable as their story lines. The only thing that keeps viewers interesting is the fact that it’s so over the top that you HAVE to watch it. We watch shows like 90210 because it would never happen in real life. Nobody wants to see that anymore. Even shows like Parenthood, who play close to real life families, have to make a big drama out of EVERYTHING otherwise nobody would watch.
    If anything, I’ve been dreading the so called interest in colleges and homework by Naomi and Annie, it’s dull. If you want to be a realistic show about private schools, interviews and SAT’s, don’t have your characters go through retarded stuff. You can’t have both. In that respect, it has nothing to do with BH90210 and I fully agree that these shows, West Bev on itself, have nothing in common, which can be hurtful to fans of the old series. But new times call for desperate measures.

  • Yes, homework and exams aren’t exciting on the surface. But if the show had well-rounded characters that would feel real, you would care about how they do! I wanted Andrea to get into Yale, I cared that Donna would graduate with her friends. Will Naomi get into College… Will Annie and Dixon? I don’t care!

  • Cam3150

    This one of the shows I watch that I often wonder why on earth I’m still watching it. I literally FF through every Ivy, Dixon or Teddy scene and I barely care about the other characters. Any of them that I did like (Kelly, Mr. Matthews, the parents, Liam) are all either off the show completely or are shells of their former selves. Liam, for example — I really liked his character at first. I liked the “bad boy” thing and I really liked his and Naomi’s chemistry. With Annie, he is a complete bore with almost no storyline. She drains the life out of everyone she is in contact with.

    The only reason I stared watching this show was because of the original. Now I realize that any comparison to that show is ridiculous. Like you said, there is nothing to care about with these characters. I still love the high school episodes of the original and will stop to watch them anytime I see a re-run. I’m not as much of a fan of the later years but I am one of the few who really loved Brenda (and Brenda and Dylan) so the show was not ever the same for me once she left. Maybe I’m just too old for the new version but the prom episode could not even hold a candle to counterpart on the original series.

    So many of those shows were classics that people still talk about. Each episode set during the high school years has an “epic” feel to it now. Those issues were the same ones we all faced at the time so it was very relatable. I guess if all of that is boring to some then my life wasn’t very intersting in high school!

    It was one of the few “must see” shows that was on then. That show paved the way for pretty much every teen show that has aired since then and to “remake” it (and poorly) is a travesty really.

  • Cam3150

    This one of the shows I watch that I often wonder why on earth I’m still watching it. I literally FF through every Ivy, Dixon or Teddy scene and I barely care about the other characters. Any of them that I did like (Kelly, Mr. Matthews, the parents, Liam) are all either off the show completely or are shells of their former selves. Liam, for example — I really liked his character at first. I liked the “bad boy” thing and I really liked his and Naomi’s chemistry. With Annie, he is a complete bore with almost no storyline. She drains the life out of everyone she is in contact with.

    The only reason I stared watching this show was because of the original. Now I realize that any comparison to that show is ridiculous. Like you said, there is nothing to care about with these characters. I still love the high school episodes of the original and will stop to watch them anytime I see a re-run. I’m not as much of a fan of the later years but I am one of the few who really loved Brenda (and Brenda and Dylan) so the show was not ever the same for me once she left. Maybe I’m just too old for the new version but the prom episode could not even hold a candle to counterpart on the original series.

    So many of those shows were classics that people still talk about. Each episode set during the high school years has an “epic” feel to it now. Those issues were the same ones we all faced at the time so it was very relatable. I guess if all of that is boring to some then my life wasn’t very intersting in high school!

    It was one of the few “must see” shows that was on then. That show paved the way for pretty much every teen show that has aired since then and to “remake” it (and poorly) is a travesty really.