Out Magazine Jussie Smollett
Subscribe To
Out Magazine

Back To School

Back To School

When Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted in 1990, it was two parts Aaron Spelling soap opera and one part after-school special (story lines about the evils of drunk driving and --gasp -- teenage rhinoplasty), all set against a Less Than Zerolite backdrop of spoiled California kids. The 90210 teens -- almost all played by actors in their 20s -- were painfully fashionable (at least for the times) and impervious to adult guidance. If you were their peer, it was the ultimate orphan fantasy; if you were already well into college or beyond, it was a cotton-candy rewrite of awkward adolescence.

The setup of the new 90210 is essentially the same: Two kids transplanted from the Midwest must sink or swim in the teen-eat-teen world of wealthy West Beverly Hills High School. Aided by a covey of nostalgic characters -- Jennie Garths Kelly Taylor is a guidance counselor and the bitch (Shannen Dohertys Brenda Walsh) is back -- the show is stacked with pretty faces and potential catfights. Watch especially for Arrested Developments Jessica Walter as the age-inappropriate hot mess of a grandma and Dirts Ryan Eggold as the young, boundary-blurring teacher (the rumored token gay, perhaps?).

But to survive as more than just a powerful brand, the show cant coast by on shock value alone. 90210 begat its own biggest rivals: If you want barely legal lust objects and camp so thick you can cut it with a knife, Gossip Girl trumps all. Rich-bitchery, scheming, and feuds? Semi-reality on The Hills takes the cake.

One sign the show will be more than just skin and sexcapades: Although there was a topsy-turvy launch that delayed production of a pilot, among the shows new execs are Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, Freaks and Geeks alums whose last teen drama, Life as We Know It, was a smart, sweet, and too quickly canceled show, almost a boy version of My So-called Life -- the one against which all others should be judged. We cant help rooting for this remake to get it right.

90210 premieres September 2 on the CW.

READER COMMENTS ()