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Beverly Hills, 90210
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while producer Aaron Spelling's soapy 1990s teen melodrama was about as realistic in its depiction of everyday teen life as The Brady Bunch was back in the '70s, it did address some serious topics, including alcoholism, drug abuse, premarital sex, gambling, teen pregnancy, and teen suicide. Characters are constantly coping with the dramatic ups and downs of their friendships and romantic relationships. Many of them are wealthy, and few have strong or even positive relationships with their parents. Parents may want to preview before allowing young tweens and young teens to watch.
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What's the story?
Earning a place in the Aaron Spelling hall of fame, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 is a guilty pleasure soap opera about a group of teenagers in the upscale Southern California suburb of Beverly Hills. Created by renowned TV producer Spelling (Charlie's Angels, Melrose Place) and Sex and the City creator Darren Star, this popular 1990s series follows twins Brandon (Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty), who move to L.A. from Minneapolis and attend the fictitious West Beverly High School. Their circle of friends includes pretty Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), insecure Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), ambitious Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), aspiring musician David Silver (Brian Austin Green), happy-go-lucky Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), and rebellious Dylan McKay (Luke Perry).
Is it any good?
Over its 10-season run, 90210 delved deeply into the (mostly) privileged but often-troubled lives of its core characters. While full of teen-oriented storylines about friendships, deep-seated rivalry, and troubled romance, the series was first and foremost a prime-time soap; consequently, characters frequently schemed, cheated, and manipulated their way through the world of high school and beyond.
That said, 90210 did address some very serious issues faced by teens of any decade, including coping with peer pressure to smoke, drink, abuse drugs, and have sex. The series also dealt with subject matter that was controversial for its time, including teen suicide, physical abuse at the hands of a boyfriend, surviving rape, and struggling with alcohol- and drug-dependent parents. By the show's fifth season, many of the original gang had transitioned to college life and other pursuits. As a result, the problems portrayed on the show became more sophisticated to the point of being contrived, and the show lost much of its original appeal. Nonetheless, the series will forever be remembered as a cultural phenomenon that defines the 1990s.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how teenagers are presented on television. How realistic are the lives of the teens you see on television vs. the teens in your family or at your school? How have TV teens changed over the years? What do Brenda, Brandon, and co. have in common with today's TV teens? How are they different? Do you think real teens' lives would be as much fun to watch on TV? Why or why not? Families can also talk about some of the difficult issues teens have to deal with today. Who are the people you can go to if you or someone you know has a problem?