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'Beverly Hills, 90210' 25th anniversary: Our favorite couples

Of all the reasons to love Beverly Hills, 90210, perhaps the abundance of special couples is the biggest one. From high school through college and even several years after that, this group of friends saw its fair share of relationship drama. Despite fairly regular backstabbing and infidelity, 90210 managed to give us many couples we could solidly get behind.

Here, in our third 25th anniversary tribute, Joanna Skrabala and I salute the best twosomes 90210 had to offer. (Note: Tamar will always be #TeamBrenda, and Joanna will always be #TeamKelly, especially when it comes to Dylan. We’ve devoted so much time to them already that we’ve omitted them here.)

Be sure to share your favorites too!

The Top 3

Donna and David:

Photo credit: Fox

At the start of the series, Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) is just one of Kelly’s crew. She’s another blond in a sea of California girls Brenda is trying to befriend. Over the course of the first two seasons, however, Donna begins to emerge as an individual. Her decision to be with David (Brian Austin Green)—a guy labeled as a dork by all of her “cool” friends—marks a big moment in Donna’s transformation. Their unlikely union is a win for them both, and we all rooted for them. Their relationship saw many ups and downs over nine seasons, but ultimately we said farewell to the 90210 gang as Donna and David rightfully said “I do.” —TB


Dylan and Toni:

Photo credit: Fox

Toni (Rebecca Gayheart) and Dylan (Luke Perry) shared a Romeo & Juliet–style love affair … and it was just as tragic. Toni’s dad orchestrated Jack McKay’s death—and Dylan wants revenge. So, while Dylan canoodles with Toni for intel, he falls hard for the sweet girl. At the end of the day, Dylan is willing to forget his vendetta if it means being happy with Toni. So he does, and the two get married—only to end in utter heartbreak when her father’s hit man accidentally kills Toni. Dylan is given the ultimate go-ahead to end Toni’s dad’s life, but wants nothing of it. True love changes a man. But it doesn’t mean we’re not still hurting over Dylan’s loss. —JS

Steve and Janet:

Photo Credit: Fox

Opposites flawlessly attract, when straight-laced Janet (Lindsay Price) and eternal frat boy Steve (Ian Ziering) got together during the show’s twilight seasons. It wasn’t roses and champagne from the start, but more of an often-annoying office friendship. But maybe that was Steve’s problem all along? Before diving into quick courtships, he needed a friend first. So, with Janet, Steve got a co-worker, a friend, and then a lover. But then Janet got pregnant and Steve didn’t, I repeat, didn’t bolt. He committed himself to Janet for all the right reasons. And it wasn’t about responsibility. It was about love and family. Good on you, Steve—you grew up. —JS


Tamar’s Picks

Kelly and Brandon:


Perhaps it is the self-righteous nature of both Kelly (Jennie Garth) and Brandon (Jason Priestley), or maybe it’s just that neither ever seemed to make much sense with anyone else, but Kelly and Brandon were a perfect fit. After Brandon tells Kelly he thinks of her as a sister, it looks as though these two may be destined for the friend zone. But the lens of college provides Brand-O with a new perspective, and by the end of season four, they are shacking up in D.C. That these two didn’t wind up married has more to do with real life than TV life, so we’ll just pretend it all worked out for BranLy(?).

Steve and Carly:

Photo credit: Fox

Before Steve meets Janet, the love of his life who helps him grow up (see above), he meets Carly (Hilary Swank), who starts him on his journey. Though she was only on the show for a short while, Carly helped us all see something in Steve we didn’t know was there. Steve meets Carly at the start of season eight, and he’s almost immediately smitten with the overprotective mother. Their relationship evolves, and she eventually lets down her guard and lets him in. Steve falls hard—and is devastated when she and her son suddenly have to move to Montana to be with her sick father.

Donna and Joe:

Photo credit: Fox

Donna and David may have been endgame, but each of them had some successful relationships during their time apart. During their junior year of college, Donna begins dating Joe Bradley (Cameron Banfcroft), an adorable quarterback and overall perfect specimen. Joe is everything that Donna’s previous (abusive) boyfriend, Ray, is not. He is kind, he is gentle, and he is also waiting for marriage to have sex! A heart defect leads Joe to give up football and take a coaching position back in Pennsylvania. He asks Donna to go with him, but she declines, paving the way for a reunion with David (the first of several).

Joanna’s Picks

Valerie and David:


Donna and David are unquestionably the more “perfect,” predestined couple. But before David could 100 percent commit to Donna, he had to finish his story with Valerie. So very complicated, Val and David bonded over misfortune and parallel problems. Valerie doesn’t mess with David like she does with (practically) everyone else on the show because there’s a mutual soft spot between the two. While Valerie and David would never work in the long run, they did work when they were needed. Each one’s existence assured the other’s survival during those super-low points when there was no one else. There’s some strength in that love.

Jim and Cindy

image credit: Fox

The drama didn’t always begin and end with the kids, as we witnessed a fair share of parent problems over the years. And yet, Jim and Cindy survived five years on the show (before moving to Hong Kong), proving you really could withstand the stress and glitzy temptations of Beverly Hills. While Jim is the discipline-steeped breadwinner and Cindy is the good-natured caregiver, both adored their kids wholeheartedly—and often their kids’ friends, and then some. Moral, honest, and fair, this duo embodied normalcy on a show that thrived on crisis. And for that, we thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Walsh. You always brought us home.

Brandon and Susan:

Photo credit: Fox

Susan Keats (Emma Caulfield) may just be one of Brandon’s many girlfriends—but 30 episodes is nothing to sneeze at. It begins in season six, when Brandon goes to work for the CU newspaper, only to find himself clashing with its strong-willed editor. After a while, the two begin dating. Susan and Brandon are so similar, their dating feels natural. They share misadventures and near-death experiences, and the writers actually give Susan some decent subplots about her past. (Truth be told, I compare them to Anya and Xander all the time.)

Thankfully, Susan isn’t crazy Emily or cougar Lucinda—but she’s no Kelly Taylor either. So when Brandon says no to a summer road trip with Susan, it’s dunzo for this pair. A shame—but it was fun while it lasted.


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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