The Wife:

I was 5 with the original 90210 first aired. Even though the original show ran for 10 years, I wasn’t really making my own decisions about what to watch on TV until about halfway through 90210‘s run. My television choices at such a tender age were largely dominated by ABC’s TGIF line-up of Boy Meets World, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Step by Step and Full House. That kind of thing. And Seinfeld with my parents. We didn’t have DVD then, or OnDemand, or DVR or the interwebs in the high-access, easy-to-download-absolutely-anything format in which it exists today. In short, I have never watched the original 90210. Not even one episode.

As such, I’m struggling to find the appeal of the new 90210. I’m watching it largely because I have enjoyed two of the lead actresses, Jessica Stroup (Reaper) and AnnaLynne McCord (Nip/Tuck), on shows I like and I’m interested to see them go further in the television careers. But as far of the content of 90210 is concerned: what’s the big deal? Why am I watching this?

The New 90210-ers, who are not as interesting as Veronica Mars 90909-ers..

The New 90210-ers, who are not as interesting as Veronica Mars' 90909-ers..

My husband will tell you how much he likes Gossip Girl, and that’s a show I can’t get into either. Maybe I just don’t like shows about high school, unless they’re about high schools where weird-ass shit happens. Like on Buffy. Or Veronica Mars. From the few episodes of Gossip Girl that I have seen, I think it’s ever-so-slightly more interesting than 90210, but I think that’s an issue more of style than content. The content of the shows are basically the same: backstabbing, cheating, lying and otherwise totally fucking everyone in your social circle (often in both senses of the word “fucking.”) I went to high school; it sucked. Why do I need to subject myself to it again? And on my beloved TV?

As far as the pilot of the new 90210 is concerned, I thought Stroup and McCord were good in their respective roles as the rebel rocker gossip blogger and the rich bitch. McCord does not seem to be playing far from her role on Nip/Tuck, but at least Naomi on 90210 is a vulnerable girl who hides under the bitchy exterior. I also enjoy the casting of Jessica Walter as the alcoholic grandmother of our new 90210 inhabitants, the Wilsons, and the perfect casting of Lori Loughlin (Full House) as Shenae Grimes’ character’s mother, because Grimes is a dead ringer for Loughlin in the ’80s.

90210 has taught me a new way to drink alcohol inconspicuously in public: hide it in an iced tea! I was unaware that this was the new, cool way to hide your alcohol, so I thank Darren Star and crew for the pointer. It’s very clear that they love booze, considering they named a character Tai Collins, like they couldn’t decide which cocktail to name him after, so they combined two totally different ones. I also thank them for spending so much money on the soundtrack to this show to make it seem really hip and now, even going so far as to include a song that made no sense in the sequence in which it was included. “Viva La Vida” does not belong in a driving into Beverly montage. But props to giving Adele a song in each episode. She rocks.

Jessica Walter loves Iced Tea. Providing its iced with alcohol.

Jessica Walter loves "Iced Tea." Providing it's iced with alcohol.

If anyone can explain to me why I should like 90210, I’d really appreciate it. I’d also really appreciate it if someone could explain why it was necessary to fly to San Francisco for Italian food. I work in North Beach, and I’m pretty sure you can get Italian food of the same caliber in LA. After all, there is a Stinking Rose in both cities.

The Husband:

Like my wife, I too am baffled by the existence of 90210: The Millennium Edition. As far as the original series goes, I have seen exactly one episode. The content of the episode, however, has been stuck in my mind for quite some time, due not only to the circumstances in which I watched it – with my cousin Audrey while vacationing in Lake Tahoe – but also the episode’s central moral which did a great deal in shaping my burgeoning political thought, even at age eight. According to IMDB, it is episode s02e14 – “The Next Fifty Years” – in which a mutual friend of the 90210 gang finds a gun in his father’s desk, twirls it around on his finger and accidentally and fatally shoots himself. I think of this episode each time I twirl a plastic gun, or when a cowboy on a late-night Western on PAX shows off after he ends the life of a rival gunslinger during a standoff. The episode in question has done more than I want to admit to inform my concepts of the validity of owning a handgun in such neighborhoods as Beverly Hills, where if the crooks are capable enough to get past your rich, ridiculously complex home security system, guard dogs, high gates and also have the knowledge to where your most valuable valuables are, a single handgun probably isn’t going to stop them.

But I digress. I do, as aforementioned, like Gossip Girl, despite multiple attempts to hate it. When it was regularly aired, I gave up after four episodes, but when faced with the chance to watch the entire 18-episode first season in three days on DVD, I gave it another go and got desperately hooked. Why, then, is it so much better than 90210: TME? They are pretty much about the same thing, deal with the same types of characters and are both pretty trashy.

I still can’t really put my finger on it, but I think a lot of the differences merely have to do with my opinions regarding Los Angeles (boo!) and New York (yes!). Something about the Upper East Side works for me in a way that Beverly Hills never could, like in the way that Sex and the City is ostensibly about people who willingly trap themselves on a small, crowded, expensive island (fascinating) instead of a sprawling, bright, smoggy desert (depressing).

Maybe Gossip Girl owns up more to its trashy nature, because as of right now GG has a sense of humor about itself – looking down on the out-of-control bourgeoisie that it exploits for shiggles – that 9…..:TME simply hasn’t found. GG has also, at least in the first season, never once gone inside an actual class in progress, treating Constance – the high school – merely as a pretty setting where all the characters can converge each weekday and figuratively scratch dem bitches eyes out.

I’ll give 9 etc. at least half a season, because I do like most of the actors, and also hope that the Goth Girl with no lines can show up in the background of each episode and make me giggle uncontrollably. I’ll also watch to experience the continued exploits of AnnaLynne McCord and Tristan Wilds, who respectively were on two of this writer’s favorite shows of the last few years – Nip/Tuck and The Wire. When I recognize a character actor on a comparatively more boring show, my mind tends to wander and create fake crossover arcs between the actors’ shows – past and present – to amuse myself. This worked wonders while watching 902blehbleh’s two-hour premiere in two ways:

Naomi (McCord) is pretty much Nip/Tuck’s Eden Lord, but minus two years, so in essence we are watching the origin of Eden’s fall from grace into her hideously evil self, which will in due time result in her turning Sean McNamara’s daughter into an apprentice slut at the local Los Angeles high school – which I imagine looks a lot like West Beverly – giving Sean a heart attack when banging him while they’re both on Ecstasy and poisoning Joely Richardson with mercury-laced fruitcake before shooting her during the season 5 cliffhanger.

Naomi, choosing to poison us with sexy, not with fruitcake.

Naomi, choosing to poison us with sexy, not with fruitcake.

Dixon (Wilds), the Wilsons’ adopted son, is actually Michael Lee, who during the final two seasons of The Wire went from troubled asshole and high school student to a savvy Baltimore corner drug dealer who finally grew a conscience, murdered Snoop in self-defense, and skipped town. Somehow, Michael ended up in Kansas, changed his name and his victimized attitude, and was finally adopted by a nice white family, leading to the pilot of 9fnehfneh. Now he’s playing lacrosse. That’s a brilliant story arc if I’ve ever seen one.

Michael Lee, enjoying his nice white family and forgetting all about killing Snoop.

Michael Lee, enjoying his nice white family and forgetting all about killing Snoop.

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