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BH90210

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
BH90210 TV Poster Image
Meta reboot of teen soap is clever and self-aware.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

As a group of old friends vows to get the gang back together again for another show, they demonstrate teamwork and courage in their quest. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The actors in this show are playing knowing riffs on their public images: the much-married tabloid staple (Garth), the eclipsed-by-his-wife husband (Green), the broke reality TV star (Spelling), and some of their antics are sitcom-y but often the show reveals their human, relatable feelings, the person behind the image. 

Violence

Brief and infrequent moments of violence are played for laughs: Priestley punches an actor (and hurts his hand), Spelling and company steal a 90210-era dress from a display while security guards give chase. 

Sex

Expect romantic entanglements and complications in classic soap fashion, with same- and opposite-sex kissing, and characters removing their clothing (no nudity is shown) and falling into bed together before the camera cuts away. One character's infidelity is treated seriously, as a mistake he's made. Pregnancy is another plot twist in the narrative. Characters may make references to sex: "I'm going to have a roll in the hay with a pig farmer." 

Language

Language is infrequent: "hell," "damn," "bitches" (one woman calls a group of friends), "dick" (i.e. mean) and "nuts" (the body part). 

Consumerism

Part of 90210's appeal is it was supposedly about rich teenagers -- as adults, the cast of the show have varying amounts of money, and a lot of concern about making more. Spelling in particular is "broke" and talks about it a lot, while Ziering constantly pushes his fitness book and brand, though he lives in a fancy house with an even fancier car. Green, married to a music superstar, has a private plane the gang uses, contrasting it to crowded coach airplane seating. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters refer to "needing" a drink and then drink heavily, urging each other to "have another" and do shots. After drinking, they act sloppy and make questionable choices: robbery, infidelity. At one point, a character refers to eating an "edible" (presumably containing marijuana, which is legal in California, where the show is set). 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that BH90210 is a sort of a continuation of the 1990s teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 that stars the same actors, this time playing themselves, as actors, about to reboot the old series. Characters are mostly married, but expect sexual complications anyway, as well as jokes about and references to sex. One man has sex with an old flame without his wife's permission; another married character has an unexpected kiss with a stranger in a bar that causes her to question her up-until-now heterosexuality. Characters also drink heavily, and in one extended scene, get sloppy drunk and then make questionable choices including stealing a dress from a display. A character refers to eating an "edible" (marijuana is legal in California, where this show is set). Language is infrequent: "hell," "damn," "bitches," "nuts," "dick." Violence is rare, but at one point a character punches someone in the face and hurts his hand. Characters play variations of their public image, but humanize them somewhat, with relatable problems like feeling forgotten, or money struggles. Themes of teamwork and courage are clear, as the show roots for these characters and their new venture. 

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What's the story?

Almost 30 years after their hit teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210 created a pop-culture tsunami, the former teen-magazine idols are hoping to relaunch their careers with a reboot that gets the whole gang back together, BH90210. In the years between the old 90210 went off the air and now, Tori Spelling has become a reality-TV staple, Ian Ziering and Shannen Doherty have appeared sporadically in TV movies and little-seen series, Jason Priestley has moved into directing, and Brian Austin Green, Jennie Garth, and Gabrielle Carteris have mostly shown up in celeb gossip stories. But when they all get back together for a 90210 convention panel, they realize there may be juice left in the old gang and the time is right to create a 90210 reboot. And in this show-within-a-show in which every actor plays a sorta-true version of themselves, they do just that 

Is it any good?

Pleasantly meta and sharp, this "reboot" (if you can call it that) of the 1990s teen TV drama transcends its soapy roots to become, amazingly, something pretty profound. Beverly Hills, 90210 was never great art, and the now-grown-up cast definitely gets how ridiculous it is to be best-known for a show that was a guilty pleasure even when it was one of the hottest shows on TV. With almost BoJack Horseman-levels of irony, the ex-90210'ers look back on their days of teen idolatry with a mixture of embarrassment and wistfulness: it sure would be nice to have the recognition and money that once came so easily, even if that same recognition meant that the show's actors were never taken seriously afterwards as they headed off to TV projects with even greater levels of corn (Ziering's Sharknado turns, Spelling's reality-TV queendom), or "where are they now?" status (Garth, Green). 

Yet even "pinups for horny teenage girls," as Priestley is called during BH90210's first episode by a sneering millennial, have feelings, and middle age is a great time to experience both regrets for one's past mistakes, and a longing for a different, better life. And so as we meet up for the cast for the first time in a long long while, it's pretty delicious to see them playing riffs on their real-live selves, and hoping that their reunion will take them somewhere new. Maybe it won't work -- but in launching this smart, self-aware reboot, the cast is already leagues ahead of similar, staler retreads that go nowhere. "Who was that guy who said you can't go home again?" asks a game Spelling. "I don't know," shrugs Garth. "I only went to fake high school." 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Many shows that were once popular on TV are getting modern remakes, i.e. Fuller House, Charmed, One Day at a Time. Why? Do these shows have a built-in audience or appeal? How do the shows change when they are remade or rebooted? Are all the changes for the better? 

  • Did you watch Beverly Hills, 90210 when it first aired? If so, does that increase how likely you are to watch and enjoy this show? Or is it made to appeal to new fans? How much "fan service" (i.e. including elements that will mostly be enjoyed by people who are already fans) does it perform? 

  • How do the characters on BH90210 demonstrate courage and teamwork in relaunching their careers? Why are these important character strengths?

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