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Celebrating 25 years: The best and worst of 'Beverly Hills, 90210'

On October 4, 1990, the Walsh family made its 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, 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.

This month, we’re joined by EW Community contributors Maggie Fremont, Sundi Rose Holt, Karen Belgrad, and Wendy Hathaway to duke it out for our favorites (and least favorites) in a variety of categories. What are yours? Be sure to share your picks below!

Best Couple:

Photo credit: Fox

Tamar’s pick: Brenda & Dylan. Brenda and Dylan—or “Brylan,” as they’d no doubt be called today—represent everything good about the early days of BH90210. They may not have ended up together, but their time as a couple was sheer perfection!

Joanna’s pick: Steve & Janet. While this duo didn’t arrive at their couple-hood until the final few seasons, when they did start dating, it was lovely. Friends and coworkers first, then marriage and a baby later. Steve reached maximum maturity—thank you, Janet.

Maggie’s pick: Cindy & Jim. So stable, so loving, so nerdy. Yes, Cindy and Jim were the practical disciplinarians and surrogate parents for the whole gang, but they were also majorly hot for each other. Even that sexy photographer Glen couldn’t lure Cindy away from her suspender-clad man.

Worst Couple:

photo credit: 90210stupid.tumblr.com

Karen’s pick: Steve & Clare. While Tenderheart and Cuddles may have worked in an online chatroom, nothing about Steve and Clare worked when put through the paces of an actual relationship. Steve was well-meaning, but often faltered. Clare was never able to accept Steve as he was; she constantly picked fights and belittled him.

Maggie’s pick: Donna & Ray. Ray Pruit, how dare you make me hate the man who gifted our ears with “How Do You Talk to an Angel”! Alas, Ray pushed Donna down a flight of stairs, and that is unforgivable. Plus, David was always The One, and no other boyfriend ever stood a chance—hit ’90s ballad or not.

Sundi’s pick: Kelly & Matt. Matt was merely a filler for Kelly to pass time with until Dylan could get his act together. Matt served as dramatic conflict in the final season, getting in the way of Kelly and Dylan’s happily ever after. We had to hate him.

Best Smile:

photo credit: Fox

Maggie’s pick: Brandon Walsh. “The face that launched a thousand ships”—does this refer to Helen of Troy, or to Brandon Walsh? We’ll never know. But we do know that Brando could use that charming smile to both woo the ladies and get through a crippling gambling addiction. That’s true power.

Wendy’s pick: Nat Bussichio. Boy trouble? SATs have you feeling anxious? Did your classic convertible just crap out? All you have to do is stop by the Peach Pit to see Nat’s warm grin. It’s like comfort food for the soul, and usually served with a side of wisdom.

Tamar’s pick: Dylan McKay. Dylan McKay was a brooding and complicated guy. He was often deep in thought, and it wasn’t always easy to coax a smile out of him. But when it happened, oof. It made it hard to breathe.

Best/Worst Male Character:

Karen’s picks:

Photo credit: Fox

Best: Steve Sanders. Steve Sanders grew up. He went from “Do you know who my mom is?” to “Have you met the mother of my child?” Along the way he stumbled, misbehaved, and made mistakes, but he (mostly) learned from them.

Worst: Colin Robbins. Colin was a big ol’ mess. He came onto the scene as Kelly’s artist boyfriend, complete with a sugar mama bankrolling his creativity. His favorite hobby: snorting cocaine and sharing it with Kelly. After he tore through Kelly’s life, he moved on to Valerie, leaving her holding the financial bag when he tried to jump bail following Los Angeles’ lamest car chase.

Joanna’s picks:

Photo credit: Fox

Best: Nat Bussichio. Nat played father and friend to just about everyone who walked through the Peach Pit doors. He was the moral compass everyone needed. I’ll never forgive the 90210 reboot for turning the Peach Pit into a coffee shop—give me a Megaburger with a side of Nat’s sound advice anytime!

Worst: John Sears. John shows up while the gang is in college and manages to steal Kelly away from Dylan! What?! After a short bit of dating, Kelly discovers his goal—he just wanted to sleep with her. Not cool, bro. Plus, you later tried to get Steve kicked out the fraternity and later dated his ex, Celeste!

Tamar’s picks:

Image credit: Fox

Best: David Silver. He may have started as a nerdy Kelly-stalker, but David quickly evolved into an adorably lovable part of the gang. He’s got sexy dance moves, he sings like an angel, and he waited forever to have sex with Donna. This guy is the greatest.

Worst: Noah Hunter. What is there to say about Noah? He lied about who he was, he drank too much, he cheated on Donna, and he spent most of his time in the zip code whining. No thank you.

Best/Worst Female Character:

Sundi’s picks:

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Best: Valerie Malone. Valerie was a badass, independent woman who spent her time in Beverly Hills trying to find out who she was. She made her own money—even if she had to blackmail and extort to do so. She lived exactly the way she wanted to, and she was one of the most beautiful brunettes Dylan ever slept with. She had a lot going for her.

Worst: Sophie Burns. No offense to the actress playing Sophie, Laura Leighton, but this character was gross. And I don’t just mean because she shamelessly threw herself at every man in the zip code. She was a conniving, low-rent gold digger who didn’t have half the hustle that Valerie did—even though she tried.

Joanna’s picks:

Photo credit: Fox

Best: Kelly Taylor. Kelly went from rich bitch to perfectly developed leading lady—but the road to get there wasn’t so easy. This girl endured a lot –e.g., alcoholic mother, rape, stalker, drug abuse, etc.—and still came out on top. She’s aces.

Worst: Emily Valentine. Oh, Emily. You’re messed up—and not in an endearing kind of way. You come to town and set a date with both Dylan and Brandon (and forced me to side with Brenda!). You tricked Brandon into taking U4EA (ecstasy) before almost burning down the school float because Brandon rightfully dumped you. Sorry, I don’t care what therapy does; you’re a bad chick.

Wendy’s picks:

photo credit: jessicajernigan.tumblr.com

Best: Janet Sosna. Janet Sosna is the anti-Clare. She’s smart, funny, stylish, and comparatively low-drama. She makes Steve finally grow up, and we’re all better off for it.

Worst: Andrea Zuckerman. Guys, it’s pronounced On-dree-uh. Ms. Zuckerman never quite fit in with the gang. Heck, she doesn’t even live in the 90210. She’s a responsive, down-to-earth brainiac, which might not be so bad, except that she’s also boring and uptight—the rain on what is otherwise a delightfully soapy parade.

Worst Breakup:

Photo credit: Fox

Sundi’s pick: Brandon & Emily. Brandon and Emily have to go down as the worst breakup ever, only because theirs ended in almost-arson and an actual psych ward. She took it hard.

Tamar’s pick: David & Val. Even if we all knew that Donna and David were endgame, the relationship that developed between David and Val was surprisingly beautiful. David really saw Val; he made her want to be better. Their ex-best-friend-blackmail-fueled breakup was utterly tragic.

Wendy’s pick: Brenda and Dylan & Kelly. Brenda and Dylan had already broken up. But when Brenda finds out Kelly and Dylan shared some summer lovin’ while Brenda was in Paris—and lied about it for months—she’s pissed and ends their friendships, too: “I hate you both! Never talk to me again!”

Best Friendship:

photo credit: Fox

Joanna’s pick: David & Val. By all means, this was not a healthy relationship. It was an on-again, off-again romantic relationship—but these two found a weird way to be there for each other during the hard stuff: Valerie’s AIDS test and her suicide contemplation.

Karen’s pick: Kelly & Donna. Kelly and Donna may have gone through their fair share of suitors over the show’s 10-year run, but what they rarely let go of was each other. The best friends stood by each other’s side through broken hearts, stalkers, addictions, dubious fashion choices, and Clare’s snoring.

Sundi’s pick: Brandon & Andrea. Even back in the their Blaze days, they had each other’s back. Things got a little awkward in season two when we were wondering will they or won’t they, but their eventual platonic love grew into something pretty cool.

Biggest tear-jerker:

Tamar’s pick: Toni’s death. Dylan’s whirlwind romance with Antonia Marchette was doomed from the start. Dylan let go of his anger and desire for revenge, but his father-in-law couldn’t. The hit he put on Dylan ended up killing his beautiful daughter instead.

Karen’s pick: Jack McKay’s death. While the events of later episodes rewrote history, the death of Jack McKay was one of the most significant moments of Dylan’s high school years. From Dylan’s desperate screaming to everyone trying to comfort him to the broken little boy inside, the first time Dylan experienced grief was certainly resonant.

Wendy’s pick: Goodbye 90210. As the camera pans around old and new friends celebrating David and Donna’s wedding, we say goodbye to characters we loved for nearly 300 episodes. Try not to cry at this farewell, especially when it wraps with the theme song played at half-speed, and slow-motion hugs all around.

 

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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