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'Beverly Hills, 90210': 25 years, 25 reasons to binge-watch

On October 4, 1990, the Walsh family made their way from snowy Minnesota to sunny California. Thus began the cultural phenomenon that was Beverly Hills, 90210.

In honor of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the show that shaped our youth, EW Community contributor Joanna Skrabala and I are teaming up to celebrate. On the fourth of each month between now and October, we’ll share a different BH90210-themed tribute. First up: 25 reasons you should binge-watch Beverly Hills, 90210 NOW. (Season one is available to stream on Amazon Prime and Hulu.)

1. The theme song

Any fan of the show gets excited upon hearing the song’s first few beats. And then there’s the air punch! It’s everlasting ’90s brilliance. John E. Davis, we salute you. You created a generation’s (instrumental) anthem. —Joanna Skrabala

2. It’s the original modern high school genre show

Did you like My So-Called Life? One Tree Hill? Gossip Girl? BH90210 is the show that paved the way for all the rest by making it abundantly clear that high school is the perfect backdrop for everything audiences enjoy—namely, love, sex, and conflict. —Tamar Barbash

3. The friendships

photo credit: Fox

At its core, BH90210 is about a group of friends. Brenda and Brandon Walsh (Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestley) arrive in Beverly Hills knowing no one. They quickly fall in with the popular Kelly (Jennie Garth), Donna (Tori Spelling), Steve (Ian Ziering) and Dylan (Luke Perry, *swoon*). The relationships that develop between this gang and the less cool Andrea (Gabrielle Carteris) and David (Brian Austin Green) add an important layer—and by season three, there’s no distinction between them. —TB

4. The drama

There is nowhere in the world that has more drama than inside the walls of a high school. Aaron Spelling recognized the potential for fun and intense storytelling when he created a show that centered on teenagers. Though the gang graduates at the end of season three, the drama follows them all the way through college and beyond. —TB

5. The character development

Yes, BH90210 had actual character development. Who’d have thought the stuck-up rich kids—i.e., Kelly and Steve—would turn into respectable, upstanding adults with actual responsibilities? Or straight-A student Andrea would end up getting pregnant in college, and later cheat on her husband? —JS

6. The feuds

Photo credit: Giphy


Was there ever a better feud than Brenda Walsh vs. Kelly Taylor? Or maybe Kelly vs. Valerie Malone? Or Valerie vs. everyone? It’s a vicious cycle—and that’s why we love it. —JS

7. The fashion

Hello, early ’90s! High-waisted jeans, baby-doll dresses, and Dr. Martens are just a few of the items that make the 90210 wardrobe so utterly fantastic. These were the coolest and richest kids, so everything they wore represents the height of fashion at the time. It’s amazing! —TB

8. The ships

photo credit: the-daily-90210.tumblr.com

Before shippers knew they were shipping, BH90210 was giving us the ships. Brenda and Dylan! Kelly and Brandon! Donna and Ray! Just kidding. Nobody ships Donna and Ray. BH90210 was a smorgasbord of sexy people with lots of sex to root for. (Note: For its time, the show pushed envelopes and waded into much uncharted territory, but there is a clear lack of any same-sex relationships, which is obviously a bummer.) —TB

9. The breakups

With great ships come crushing breakups, and so it was with BH90210. Lots of them hurt, but possibly none as much as David and Val, even if we knew in our hearts that Donna was his endgame. —TB

10. The Christmases

No matter what plans each character supposedly has for Christmas, it’s inevitable that everyone will wind up at the Walsh house. No one makes a Christmas dinner like Cindy Walsh (Carol Potter) or sings karaoke like Jim (James Eckhouse) … and nothing says Christmas like friends who are really family. Infidelity, biological parents, and homeless Santa also ensure that it’s never boring. —TB

11. The dances

Photo credit: 90210stupid.tumblr.com

Spring Fling! Homecoming! Prom! So many dances, so many complications. Pro tip: Keep your eye out for Brian Austin Green; boy’s got some moves. —TB

12. Eye candy

Of course we all pick our television shows based on content, writing, and the talent of the cast, not because of pretty faces and rock-hard abs. But if you did happen to be looking to kill a few hours looking at some attractive people, BH90210 would be a good place to start. —TB

13. The good/bad parenting

photo credit: Fox
Jim and Cindy Walsh were some of the best parents on TV. Down-to-earth, sensible, sometimes strict and sometimes not. Jackie Taylor could have won the Worst Mother of the Year award in season one, but even she moved on to something better. The worst (IMO)? Felice Martin and Dr. Mel Silver. —JS

14. Teen issues

On its surface, BH90210 looks like a shallow show about snobby rich kids. Dig a little deeper, though, and you discover that, for the first time on television, teenagers were dealing with important issues like alcohol and drug abuse, sex and its complications (teen pregnancy, HIV), and mental illness. —TB

15. The love triangles

photo credit: Fox

No one does a love triangle like BH90210. Kelly-Dylan-Insert Walsh here. Classic lines like “I choose me.” It doesn’t get better than this. —TB

16. West Beverly High School/California University

WBHS is the place you want to be. It’s for the rich kids—and those who just want a good education (Andrea). It’s home to the Blaze, Steve’s academic crimes, David’s DJ gig, and the time capsule buried in season two. From there, most of the cast moved on to CU, a new setting for a new level of drama. Things got real at CU. Note: The exterior for WBHS was also used for Sunnydale High! —JS

17. The deaths (spoilers)
Today, TV-show deaths are pretty much a dime a dozen. They happen all the time—to major characters. While death occurred on BH90210, it was sparse and incredibly impactful. I’ll never forget the way I felt after Scott Scanlon shot himself in season two. Yes, that day my heart broke for David Silver. And don’t even get me started on Toni Marchette. —JS

18.Donna Martin Graduates

Photo Credit: Fox
This BH90210 moment deserves a special mention. Not only did goody-goody Donna Martin get drunk right before prom and face imminent future doom, but it was also part of the bridge that connected high school life to college life—and brought the entire gang together to rally for Donna’s freedom (to graduate). – JS

19. The Peach Pit (and After Dark)
We all wanted a Peach Pit—a place to go to eat a burger, get counsel from Nat, hear “Laverne” sing, be amongst friends. It was a good place. Then there’s the Peach Pit After Dark (which had about a million owners)—a place of dancing, drinking, drugs, and DRAMA! Ah, light and dark—we loved you both. —JS

20. The music

With the establishment of the Peach Pit After Dark, BH90210 created a forum to showcase musical guests on a regular basis. (See: Jamie Walters). Even before the After Dark, BH90210 had some fun musical moments, including a Color Me Badd concert and David Silver’s epic song “Precious.” —TB

21. The guest stars

BH90210 is a veritable who’s who of famous actors. Jessica Alba pops into Kelly’s clinic as a pregnant teen; David Arquette is an abusive rocker; and Vivica Fox moves in next door to the Walshes. Who else can you spot during your binge? —TB

22. The cars

Photo credit: Fox
It’s Beverly Hills. The cars are going to be awesome—from Steve’s shiny Corvette to Dylan’s super-stylish Porsche. But nothing compares to Brandon’s transition from his beaten-down Mercury Cougar, aka “Mondale” (which he crashed while drunk-driving) to his hard-earned vintage Mustang. We all wanted a ride in that thing. —JS

23. The summers

Back before cable television brought us new programming 12 months a year, summer was a barren wasteland of reruns. A game-changing moment for BH90210 came when they aired new episodes through the summer of 1991. The BH90210 audience grew, and the Beverly Hills Beach Club became a significant location in the show’s history, evoking memories of volleyball, grunion, and an infamous cheating scandal. —TB

24. The spinoff(s)
It was a great day when Jake Hanson showed up at Kelly’s house to do some handyman work. He was the hunky flirtation that Kelly needed. The best part of all? It launched Melrose Place! Which then launched the not-so-successful Models, Inc.—something I’m still waiting to rewatch on DVD. —JS

25. Luke Perry

photo credit: Fox

Before Tim Riggins and Logan Echolls, there was Dylan McKay. Dylan was the ultimate sexy bad boy. He was intense and dark, yet gentle and kind. Isn’t that reason enough to watch? —TB


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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