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'Beverly Hills, 90210' epic showdown: Brenda vs. Kelly

Has there ever been a rivalry as fierce as Beverly Hills, 90210’s Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor? Perhaps these characters spent more time as friends than enemies, but their fans have been embattled in an intense competition for over two decades. Many viewers of the show had a favorite from the beginning, but it wasn’t until Brenda left for France and Dylan found comfort in Kelly’s arms that the great divide truly formed. It comes down to more than who makes the better partner for Dylan (though that’s a big part of it).

Who was the better woman? Brenda may have only been around for four seasons, but to her loyal followers, that was enough. For others, Kelly’s always been the girl, and her longevity only helped seal her fate as the reigning queen of the ZIP code.

Here, EW Community writers Tamar Barbash (Team Brenda) and Joanna Skrabala (Team Kelly) hash it out.

Who’s your pick? Make sure to vote!


Brenda walshFrom the moment the Walsh family arrived in Beverly Hills, Brenda Walsh won the hearts of girls (and boys) across America. A stark contrast to the snobby blondes of her fancy new neighborhood, Brenda was the girl next door whom everyone could relate to.

Watching Brenda adjust to life in California was exhilarating. It was the ultimate fantasy; the cool (rich) friends, the hot guys, the insanely fabulous ’90s clothes. Brenda’s successes in Beverly Hills felt like wins for all of us. Nothing was more exciting than her first date with Dylan McKay.brenda dylan

It wasn’t just about getting the guy. Brenda’s relationship with Dylan signified that she was making a real home for herself. Where she once stood out as a foreigner, she now truly fit in. As the years went on, Brenda’s relationship with Dylan provided her with many obstacles to overcome. A pregnancy scare (which forced her to slow things down with Dylan—he was DEVASTATED); Dylan’s struggles with substance abuse; her parents’ growing disapproval of the relationship.

The unrest between Brenda and her parents led to some less-than-wise decisions on Brenda’s part, including sneaking off to Mexico and ultimately moving in with Dylan. Even as Brenda behaved like a child, it was easy to empathize with her. The deep love that she and Dylan shared was so blatantly obvious, it was impossible not to be angry at the Walshes for getting in the way.brenda dylan gif

In addition to her compelling relationship with Dylan, Brenda was appealing on her own. Her passion for acting was one of the best (and most consistent) parts of the character, and her performance as “Lavoine” will go down as one of the greatest scenes in 90210 history. Brenda also worked hard to get through some terrifying ordeals—including a breast cancer scare and being held at gunpoint at the Peach Pit.

Still, it was Kelly and Dylan’s betrayal that was the hardest for Brenda to overcome. Going to France for the summer seemed like the perfect opportunity for Brenda and Dylan to get some space. Who could have predicted that Brenda’s “best friend” would move right in? Kelly’s entire relationship with Dylan was based solely on Kelly taking advantage of Brenda’s absence. Their original union, the night Dylan officially chose Kelly, and their extended courtship throughout the series only happened because Brenda couldn’t be there.

Due to unfortunate real-life circumstances, Brenda’s time in Beverly Hills came to an end after just four seasons. Though the show continued for another six, it never again had the magic of those early years. With a piece missing in the Walsh puzzle—and the loss of the energy and talent that Shannen Doherty brought to the table—90210 began its steady decline. In Brenda’s last shot of the series, she is standing in Dylan’s living room asking him to give her something to come back to. And he does.

Brenda, for the win.

brenda wins







Kelly TaylorIn the beginning, Kelly Taylor was a mere supporting character. She was the blond rich girl from Beverly Hills—the contrast to the supposedly relatable brunette beauty, Brenda Walsh. Kelly was the one you envied, the one who had it all—the money, the clothes, the car. However, in the first season’s “Perfect Mom” episode, we learned that Kelly’s life wasn’t so perfect—and this is where we rightly began our 10-year relationship with this girl.

Let’s be honest—Kelly and Brenda had a “fake” best friend relationship. And things got worse when Kelly became romantically involved with Brenda’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Dylan … while Brenda was in Paris for the summer. Okay, some might say this was morally reprehensible—how DARE Kelly do that to her friend? But truthfully, by this point, Brenda had morphed into the horrible, grating figure whom everyone remembers—and fans were rooting for a Kelly-Dylan hookup. One of my absolute favorite TV moments of all time is when Kelly and Dylan tell Brenda the truth about their summer fling (WATCH IT NOW). As Brenda gets crushed, it’s delightfully hysterical. I hate you both! Never talk to me again! #SorryNotSorry

kelly-dylanBut enough Brenda bashing (as fun as it is)—back to Kelly …

As far as TV folks go, Kelly Taylor is definitely in the top 10—maybe top five—for “most tortured characters of all time.” Let’s list out some of her struggles: druggie mother; absentee father who makes promises he can’t keep; body issues (she ODs on diet pills); severely burned in a fire; joins a cult; gets kidnapped and almost murdered by a stalker; is cheated on by BRANDON; suffers from her own drug addiction; has a miscarriage; becomes the victim of rape; and later kills her rapist. Yeesh. The girl bears so much—and yet she pushes forward, and with each trial she becomes a more evolved person.

kelly gif 2

So, you have Brenda Walsh, who was essentially written out as the leading lady because no one liked her—and you have Kelly Taylor, who emerged from the sidelines to become our primary girl. While Brenda’s four-season run is totally fun to hate-watch, Kelly was there for the long haul, continually bettering herself as a person—and Jennie Garth as an actress. Plus, let’s not forget—in the bitter end, Kelly got the guy. She wins.






TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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