Tag Archives: beverly hills 90210

90210 Is My Happy Place

I’ve recently started a Beverly Hills, 90210 re-watch project because, well, it is quite simply the best TV show of all time. Long time readers of this site may recall that I love it, have written about it on many occasions, and in fact often use the characters as examples when I am trying to make a point. I recently got my hands on the second season and have been devouring the episodes on a nightly basis. Last night I watched two of the most classic installments in the show’s repertoire – that is, the ‘I’d Like to Exchange an Egg’ episode, and the ‘Emily Valentine Goes Nuts and Tries to Torch a Homecoming Float’ episode. I really can’t express the supreme joy that these bring to my life. In the first, Brandon’s new girlfriend Emily Valentine takes the gang to an underground L.A. club and slips U4EA (get it?) into his drink, which is basically the biggest psycho move of all time.

What part of ‘I don’t want to try U4EA’ didn’t you understand, Em?

What part of ‘I don’t want to try U4EA’ didn’t you understand, Em?

Way to go Emily. Brandon has to leave his brand new yellow Mustang – which he slaved away all summer at the Beverly Hills Beach Club to buy, after having totaled his previous car in a drunk-driving accident – at the club. When he returns the next day to collect it various street thugs have made off with his hubcaps and spray painted rude slogans on the sides. Not to mention the fact that the doors were stolen. Jeez Emily. How is Brandon going to look cool now? Brandon promptly breaks up with Emily (as he should – please note that anyone who drugs you is not to be trusted, even if it is with a fun drug that makes you take off your shirt and tell people you love them).

We’re just high on life!

We’re just high on life!

The episode of course contains the requisite amount of hand-wringing from Cindy Walsh, fuming over Brandon’s inability to keep a motor vehicle intact from Jim Walsh, and holier-than-thou attitude from Brenda. All is right with the world. In a scary development though, I actually like what David is wearing.

If you’re gonna chug a bottle of whiskey and barf your guts up, might as well do it in style!

If you’re gonna chug a bottle of whiskey and barf your guts up, might as well do it in style!

In the next episode, which is officially titled ‘My Desperate Valentine’, we witness Emily’s rapid descent into creepy stalker territory. Her increasingly desperate tactics include continuously calling the Walsh household and hanging up, leaving racy answering-machine messages for Jim and Cindy to hear (gross!), slashing her own tires in a bid to get Brandon to invite her to sleep over, and then taking advantage of his hospitality when he does by sneaking out of Brenda’s room and into his bed in the middle of the night.

Imagine having to share a room with this creepster. WTF were you thinking, Walshes?

Imagine having to share a room with this creepster. WTF were you thinking, Walshes?

And then, as I have mentioned in a previous post, she bakes him a cake and leaves it on his doorstep. Aaaaaagh! Clearly the sign of an unbalanced individual. Brandon finally loses it and, as Steve so eloquently puts it, ‘basically tells her to drop dead’ in front of the entire gang, which would obviously be very humiliating but really, she kind of had it coming.

The face of a man who has reached his limit.

The face of a man who has reached his limit.

Look, it’s not that I don’t feel bad for Em. I do. Clearly she has issues. But as I have always said, having issues is not an excuse to lie, cheat, steal, or generally treat other people like crap. Especially when the person you’re treating like crap is everyone’s favorite Minnesota Twin, Brandon Walsh.

Fortunately all’s well that end’s well. Emily admits that she has a problem and needs help, which allows everyone to get back to business as usual. Brandon resumes his life of car payments, singledom, and charming the ladies. Brenda and Dylan continue with their teenage horn dog ways. Kelly resumes her snobbery, Donna her ditziness, Steve his bro-dude-ness, Andrea her extreme know-it-all annoyingness. And David goes back to proving that he might possibly have the worst fashion sense out of anyone alive during the ‘90s.

Even David himself is dismayed by this choice of blazer.

Even David himself is dismayed by this choice of blazer.

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Grease 2

Today, I would like to talk about one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s not a good movie. In fact, it’s quite bad. But for whatever reason, watching it makes me ridiculously, joyfully ecstatic. Like, if I ever happen to come across it while flipping through the channels (which doesn’t happen often, because it really is awful so it doesn’t get much play) I literally start jumping around in excitement and yelling “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Never mind the fact that I own the movie on DVD). That’s how happy it makes me. My irrational love for Grease 2 truly knows no bounds.

I can see how this movie might have looked good on paper. The original Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, was a massive hit. I guess the producers figured that Grease 2 would be an easy win — just repeat the formula of the first movie and watch the bucks come rolling in. Boy were they wrong. Grease 2 was considered to be both a critical and commercial flop.

The second movie has basically the same plot as the first one, only inverted — this time the goody-goody foreign exchange student character is a guy, Michael Carrington (played by Maxwell Caulfield, who later romanced Brenda on 90210, and also starred in another one of my favourite movies, Empire Records). Michael lands at good old Rydell High on the first day of Senior Year and instantly becomes smitten with Stephanie Zinone, leader of the Pink Ladies (played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who might literally be the most beautiful person who has ever lived).

To give you an idea, here is IMDB’s synopsis of the movie:

An English student at a 1960’s American high school has to prove himself to the leader of a girls’ gang whose members can only date greasers.

I mean, how amazing is that? “A girls’ gang whose members can only date greasers”! I would like to know if such gangs still exist, and if so how I can find one and become a member post-haste. Embarrassing confession: when I was in the 5th grade, a bunch of my friends and I formed a gang based on the Pink Ladies. We called ourselves the ‘Chiclets’ and we cut out nameplates from gum packages (I know, so budget) and stapled them to the back our our acid wash jean jackets (it was the ’80s). We didn’t do anything remotely cool like smoke cigarettes in the bathroom, skip school, or date older boys — in fact we were basically the biggest dorks ever. But we were totally in love with the movies and wanted to emulate our heroes.

Anyway, here are a few of my favourite things about Grease 2:

– The fact that Michael Carrington is considered a ‘nerd’. I mean, look at this guy:

michael carrington

And that’s what he looks like before his transformation into a smokin’ hot motorcycle dude. It’s ridiculous, is what it is. I love it when movies try to pass off beautiful people as geeks.

– The song ‘Cool Rider’, which Stephanie sings to Michael to explain to him why she won’t date him.

Aaaaaahhhhh this song is SO AMAZINGLY BAD!!! I know all the words to it by heart. Seriously, I can totally bust it out for you the next time you see me. Bonus fun fact: I made my younger brother watch this movie so many times when we were kids that he too has the lyrics memorized.

– The talent show. The costume budget alone for the Pink Ladies number is highly implausible for a high school level event. Sidenote: I would really like to own Stephanie’s Christmas Tree dress and star crown:

a girl for all seasons

– The luau scene, when Steph and Michael finally get together.

luau

Awwwwww….

Really, I just love everything about this movie, from the bad acting to the mediocre-to-awful songs (there really aren’t any great ones) to the campy amazingness. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and rent it.

p.s. In the process of doing my “research” for this post, I stumbled across a fan tribute to the song ‘Who’s That Guy’ on youTube. This is seriously one of the cutest things I have ever seen, and I wish I was BFFs with these girls as they are apparently even bigger fans of the movie than I am and this looks like one of the most fun projects ever.

Here’s the song from the movie:

And here’s their version:

Adorable, right? Girls, if you decide to remake ‘Cool Rider’, call me!

I Choose Me

Omg omg omg omg. Okay, I don’t normally get excited about ads, but this one for Old Navy was just brought to my attention. I don’t even like Old Navy (although they do make decent flip-flops) and I usually find their ads super annoying (seriously, all those ones with mannequins having BBQs and going on cruises and stuff were just weird) but this one is awesome because it references oh, only one of the GREATEST MOMENTS IN TELEVISION HISTORY — i.e. the time that Kelly, when faced with the decision between marrying Brandon or flying around the world with Dylan, instead ditched both of them and delivered the infamous* line “I choose me”.

*Infamous, at least, amongst a specific demographic of women (currently aged 30-45 (?), approximately).

a.k.a. ONE OF MY FAVORITE 90210 EPISODES EVER.

Bravo, Old Navy. Hats off to you for recognizing the sheer amazingness of this television moment.

First, let’s watch the original:

Oh, 90210. I love you so, SO much. Sigh.

And now, Old Navy’s take:

Thank you for this, Old Navy. While I am not really any more inclined to purchase your jeans, I do appreciate the trip down memory lane.

TV Stalkers

90210

Okay, just for the record, right off the top I would like to say that I do not condone real-life stalkers. That shizz is crazy, and super scary!

There is, however, one kind of Valentine that I love…which brings us to today’s topic: Emily Valentine! And TV stalkers, in general. Just ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I always say there’s nothing quite like a good stalker storyline to make a TV show more interesting. Movies too, I guess — but TV is better because most of the time the stalker gets a good 3-5 episode arc, which gives them just enough time to terrorize the bejeesuz out of their stalkee and generally wreak havoc in their life and the lives of their friends and family. So fun!!*

*For me to watch, from the comfort of my safe, stalker-free** living room.

**(I hope)

Since I like to default to Beverly Hills, 90210 to prove many of my points in life, and since they featured a number of stalkers over the years (to be fair, it was a very long running show, so a certain amount of storyline recycling is acceptable in my view), let’s examine some of the show’s key stalkers:

Allison

allison

Trapped in a fire with Kelly (in the basement of the house where Steve and Griffin throw a holiday-themed rave), Allison suffers the more serious injuries of the two and later becomes obsessed with Kelly, dumping her girlfriend in the hopes that Kelly will fall in love with her.

Stalker Scale: Benign. Really more of a lovesick fan.

Tara

tara

Another Kelly stalker! Man, people just loved to obsess over that Kelly Taylor, didn’t they? (You could argue that Valerie was low-level stalking her throughout the entire show, since she was basically consumed by everything Kelly did and tried to steal every dude she was involved with). Anyway, Kelly and Tara meet in rehab where they bond over their mutual substance abuse problems. After checking out, Tara moves into the Beach House and goes full-on SWF on Kelly. Her story arc culminates in an attempted murder-suicide plan, but fortunately Kelly manages to convince her that life is still worth living even if she’s not blonde, rich, and perfect, like her idol.

tara

"I just want to be you, Kel!"

Stalker Scale: Scary. Single White Female stuff gives me the chills, y’all!

Evan

evan

Not to be outdone by Kelly, Donna gets her very own stalker in Season 7 (I am not counting the creepy dude in Season 5 who tried to attack her at the Beach House, since that whole scene obviously goes way beyond fun-and-games TV stalkerism). Evan is a camera man at the campus television station where Donna works as a weather girl (of course). He sends her disturbing fan mail, tries to run her over with his car, and eventually holds her hostage at gunpoint on live TV. As you do.

Stalker Scale: Psycho. Guns are NOT COOL, Evan.

Jasper

jasper

We’re into the new 90210 territory here. The updated incarnation of the show is obviously far inferior to the original (and not only because of its’ tragic dearth of stalkers), but obviously I still watch it. You can imagine my delight when Annie’s first love Jasper turns into a raving stalker in Season 2, torches Liam’s boat in a jealous rage, and threatens to take his own life by throwing himself off the Hollywood sign! That there is some serious style and panache! Way to go, kid.

Stalker Scale: This one’s tough. Annie and Jasper were in love, after all. She even lost her virginity to him. He just got a little too…intense. To put it mildly.

And then – sigh — there is the queen of them all…

Emily Valentine

emily valentine

You guys, there really are no words to express how much I love the whole Emily Valentine story arc. My friend Caroline and I are obsessed with the episode where she goes full-on psycho, basically roofies Brandon (I think it was actually supposed to be ecstasy, but whatever), plans to burn down the gang’s homecoming float, and threatens to kill herself if Brandon doesn’t love her back. And also! She bakes him a cake and leaves it on his front porch! I don’t know why that part seems so crazy to me (except for the fact that I have never baked a cake in my life, and if I ever were to do so it would be consumed very quickly by me before it had the chance to grace anyone’s doorstep) but it always struck me as a hilarious detail. Like, let me just take some time out from my busy stalking and float-destroying schedule to do some baking! It’s kind of endearing, no? Just me? I felt bad for old Emily though…it can be tough moving around a lot as a kid, and having to make new friends every time you change schools. I suppose that could lead to some pretty crazy attachment issues. My high school was full of kids who were toted all over the world, though (not just from San Francisco to L.A., thank you very much Emily), and (as far as I know) there were no major stalking tendencies that manifested themselves as a result.

Stalker Scale: Amazing. Obviously I’m biased, though. The girl clearly had serious problems, but I love her storyline so much that I cannot be impartial.

Well, that’s my list! Are there any 90210 stalkers that I missed? Who are your favorite TV stalkers?

Greaser vs. Soc

the outsiders

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, is a remarkable book for a number of reasons. First of all, despite the fact that almost all the main characters are male, the book was written by a woman. A girl, actually. Susan Eloise Hinton was still in her teens when she wrote the novel, and when it was published in 1967 (when she was but a freshman in university) her publishers suggested that she use her initials instead of her full name on the book cover. They didn’t want the novel to be dismissed by critics, who would have undoubtedly found it implausible that a story about a gang of high school toughs was written by a female author.

The Outsiders is also noteworthy for it’s film adaptation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring a whole slew of actors who were relatively unknown at the time of their casting but went on to become huge stars, including Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, and C. Thomas Howell. Bravo to you, Janet Hirshenson, Casting Director*. You obviously have quite an eye for discerning up-and-coming young talent.

*Side note: I was just looking at Janet Hirshenson’s IMDB page and she is also listed as the casting director for Real Genius, among other things. Janet Hirshenson, you are officially my new hero. Here is a question for you though: what made you cast skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta in the role of the Shuttle Pilot in the opening scene of Real Genius? Not that I have a problem with this decision, it’s just that it’s so random. I mean, it’s such a small part — the scene is only a couple of minutes long, and I would understand if it was a star cameo, but you can’t even tell that it’s him. I have always wondered about it. Since you are such a master of your craft though perhaps it is insulting for me to even ask. You are clearly brilliant. Carry on.

Anyway, I’m not going to talk about the plot of the novel, or the characters, themes, or anything along those lines. We all studied this book in high school. We know the deal. Instead, I am going to share with you a game, inspired by The Outsiders. It is very straightforward. This one is called Greaser vs. Soc, and it’s similar to Flake vs. Straight. The rules are basically the same, except that instead of taking two people and considering their relationship with one another, you just choose an individual and try to determine whether they are a ‘Greaser’ or a ‘Soc’. I guarantee you that every single person you know falls into one category or the other. Some people are harder to determine than others, but deep down everyone is either a Soc or a Greaser. For example, I am a Soc. My brother is a Soc, Woogie’s pal is a Soc, and Woogie himself was obviously a Greaser.

Since you don’t know any of us, though, I will use the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210 again to illustrate:

  • Brandon – Soc (and a hugely annoying one at that)
  • Brenda – Greaser
  • Dylan – Greaser
  • Kelly – Greaser
  • Donna – Soc
  • David Silver – Soc
  • Steve – Greaser
  • Cindy Walsh – Soc
  • Jim Walsh – Greaser
  • Valerie Malone (the Walshs’ slutty family friend) – Greaser
  • Ray Pruit (Donna’s boyfriend who played guitar & beat her) – Greaser
  • Jack McKay (Dylan’s shady dad, fake murdered by the mob) – Greaser
  • Antonia Marchette (Dylan’s wife for one day, actually murdered by the mob) – Soc
  • Emily Valentine (stalker, drug pusher, would-be arsonist) – wanted so badly to be a Soc, but was inherently just a straight up Greaser

Flake vs. Straight

Brenda & Brandon

A fun game to play if you are bored (or even if you are not) is Flake vs. Straight. The concept is very simple. Basically you take any two people you know who have a relationship with each other, and try to determine which one is the ‘Flake’ and which one is the ‘Straight’. It is usually pretty obvious. In any relationship, there is almost always one person who is clearly the Flake and one who is clearly the Straight. And they don’t have to be dating or married — it can be the relationship between two friends, or family members. For example, in my relationship with my dad I am the Flake, but with my mom I am the Straight. My mom is the Flake with my dad, but she’s the Straight with her older sister. She is, however, the Flake with her younger sister. Rarely do you find a person who is always the Straight, or always the Flake — but they do exist. Ultimate Flakes and Ultimate Straights, I call them.

To give you some concrete examples using people you have heard of, let’s consider the characters on one of TV’s greatest shows of all time, Beverly Hills, 90210 (NOTE: This show was on the air for a long time, therefore there were many relationships over the years. For practical purposes I will be referencing the first couple of seasons only). In the show’s central relationship, between twin siblings Brandon and Brenda Walsh, Brandon was obviously the Straight to Brenda’s Flake. Brenda was pretty much the Flake with everyone in her family, actually, but she was the Straight in her relationship with Dylan. Dylan was the Flake with Brandon, but he was the Straight with both of his parents (probably one of the reasons he was so messed up). Kelly was definitely the Straight with her mom Jackie (a raging alcoholic/coke fiend), but she was the Flake in her relationships with Brandon and Steve. Donna was the Flake with most people except for David Silver. ‘What about Jim and Cindy Walsh?’ I can hear you thinking. Don’t bother asking me; they are honestly just too boring to contemplate.*

*If you really must know, though, Cindy was the Flake. She almost ran off with her high school boyfriend in Season 1, remember?

The establishment of Flake vs. Straight roles in any relationship happens organically. No one consciously chooses which role to take on — as you get to know a person and your relationship develops, one of you automatically eases into the role of Flake, and the other into the role of Straight. Neither role is better or worse than the other. It sounds like it would be more fun to be the Flake, but being the Straight is actually very fulfilling in its own right. Sometimes I love being the Straight and having a Flake bounce off me — it’s a nice energy. Straights generally get to make sarcastic comments and (affectionately) mock the Flakes in their lives for being so ridiculous, which is always a good time.

So yeah, try it out if you’re so inclined. You may be surprised to discover with whom you are the Flake, and with whom you are the Straight — and whether or not you know any Ultimate Flakes or Ultimate Straights. Have fun!