A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
This series presents an unrealistic portrayal of teenagers, but it deals with the very real issues that teens face. Themes also include disparities between socioeconomic classes. The consequences of negative behaviors are sometimes not always discussed (or shown).
Positive Role Models
Some members of the group do work and participate in volunteer activities. Not all characters are good or nice; some frequently cheat, scheme, and manipulate. Despite the large ensemble cast, there are only a few characters of multicultural background featured.
Violence & Scariness
Some of the plotlines feature characters surviving violent crime, including physical abuse, shooting, and rape. A character is murdered in a later season.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frequent scenes of teens kissing and "making out." Frequent references to sexual activity. Discussions about teen pregnancy and sex are also featured, including discussions about virginity (particularly Donna's) and unexpected pregnancy (Andrea's). The episode in which Dylan and Brenda had sex for the first time was a big deal when it first aired.
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Pretty mild: "Damn," "hell," "bitch," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Many (but not all) of the characters are presented as wealthy, materialistic members of the upscale Beverly Hills community.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teen cigarette use (accompanied by a clear discussion of their consequences). Alcohol and drug abuse (including steroids) are shown to have clear negative consequences. But the underage characters still do plenty of drinking outside the context of abuse.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
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