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'Beverly Hills, 90210' 25th-anniversary tribute: Favorite characters

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 June and October, we’ll share a different Beverly Hills, 90210–themed tribute.

This month, we are honored to be joined by Lizzie and Kat, hosts of the popular 90210 podcast The Blaze with Lizzie and Kat. The Blaze is a weekly podcast that’s going through every episode of the original Beverly Hills 90210 series. Behind-the-scenes interviews with the show’s executive producer, candid interviews, and two friends cracking each other up are in store for every episode. The podcast can be found on iTunes or at 90210blaze.tumblr.com. You can also see it recorded live on September 12 at the Nerdmelt Showroom in Los Angeles—with special guest Christine Elise discussing her time playing Emily Valentine (tickets are available here).

On to our lists! (It should be noted that Dylan McKay makes every list, because Dylan.)

Joanna’s Picks:


Dylan McKay: Dylan may have been the bad-boy boyfriend with a drinking problem, but this intense surfer dude was always a super-cool work in progress. He sought justice for his father’s death; cooked up an elaborate scheme to rescue his kidnapped li’l sis; and even fell in love a few times. But perhaps my favorite Dylan moments were his bro-downs with Brandon. Whether it was a bit of important advice or a ridiculous high-five, we took comfort in knowing that Dylan was still just a young guy who needed his friends like everyone else.

Kelly Taylor


I’ve said it before—Kelly suffered aplenty over BH90210‘s 10-year run. And yet, for the most part, she remained a steadfastly decent person. My favorite (and first) memory of Kelly is in the season one episode “Perfect Mom.” For a girl who appeared to have everything, Kelly got more than she bargained for when the universe gave her Jackie Taylor for a mom. In this moment, the bitch switch flipped on Kelly, and she became a real person with real problems. #TeamKellyForever

Steve Sanders

Photo credit: Fox

Growing up isn’t easy when you’re a frat boy at heart—so Steve’s character evolution makes me feel like a proud mother. For a guy who used to only care about fast times at West Beverly High, Steve transitioned into one hell of a family man. First, he “played house” with Carly and her son—in a very heartfelt and adorable way—before marrying Janet and becoming a father himself. Those Steve Sanders family moments are what count in the end. And, of course, his totally rad beachwear.

Brenda Walsh

photo credit: Fox

For all the shade I throw at her, Brenda is still one of the best characters on BH90210. Her spunk and spice often landed her in trouble with parents, friends, and the TV audience, but we always stuck around for more. Like Dylan, my favorite moments surround her friendship—with Kelly! There was a brief clash-free time while the two girls were waiting for Dylan’s decision—and Brenda and Kelly shared some good times (dating the “Princeton” guys) and harsh realities (at the spa with Kelly’s mom). For a brief second, we forgot about the boy drama and remembered why Brenda was the leading lady. (I’m rooting for you, Shannen.)

Honorable mentions: Alcoholic Sarah (aka Surfer Betty), the ever-teenage Nikki Witt (aka the original Audrey Griswold), and Brenda’s senior prom date, Tony (aka Sgt. Abraham)

Tamar’s Picks:

Brenda Walsh

photo credit: Fox

Brenda Walsh is the heart of Beverly Hills, 90210. Her love story with Dylan is what dreams are made of, and her flair for the dramatic is what made the show so epic in its early years. It’s hard to nail down a favorite Brenda moment, since the four years she was in the zip code are chock-full of great ones, but I’m going with her turn as “Laverne,” the incredibly skillful waitress Brenda morphs into when her good-for-nothing twin brother forces her into taking his shifts at the Peach Pit. Classic Brandon move; classic performance by Shannen Doherty.

Dylan McKay

Photo credit: Fox

Sexy, smart, brooding, kind, deep: Dylan McKay is the total package. Every moment Dylan was onscreen was a moment worth savoring. And that hair! The scene that encapsulates everything I love about Dylan, though, is in season two, episode two, when Brandon asks him a personal question. Dylan tells him that if he ever asks about his sex life again, Dylan gets to hit him. Dylan was always wise beyond his years, and his understanding of the private nature of sex and the respect women deserve made him even more appealing than he already was.

Joe Bradley

photo credit: Fox

Joe Bradley, the California University quarterback who dated Donna in season six, is the MVP of non-series-regular significant others. Joe was handsome, kind, talented. And unlike her previous boyfriends, he didn’t give Donna a hard time about her choice to remain abstinent. Joe was a great catch for many reasons, but the fact that he took out Donna’s violent ex, Ray, on their first date is what tipped me off to the fact that he was a winner.

Honorable mentions: Amanda “Crashed the Slumber Party” Peyser, Dr. John Martin (he put up with Felice!), Carly Reynolds

Valerie Malone

Photo credit: Fox

As a die-hard Brenda Walsh fan, it took me a little while to warm up to Valerie. But after she’d spent some time at Casa Walsh, it became clear she wasn’t just a replacement. Valerie was the quintessential villain, pitting herself against the beloved Kelly. (My disdain for Kelly certainly contributed to my admiration of Val.) What made Valerie so special, though, was her ability to remain vulnerable despite her dark side. My heart broke for Val in season six, episode 20, when her BFF, Ginger, came back to town and blackmailed her into destroying her relationship with David.

Kat’s Picks:

Dylan McKay

photo credit: Fox

A moment that really stands out for me (in terms of what makes Dylan the dream guy that he is) is when he comforts Kelly after she is sexually assaulted in season two, episode 13, “Halloween.” Not only does he look so handsome dressed in costume as Clyde Barrow, but he even starts his speech by admitting that the last thing she needs at the moment might be advice from a man, then continues by explaining that any respectable man understands that “no means no.”

Clare Arnold

photo credit: Fox

I have such a special place in my heart for Clare. The Chancellor’s daughter, she grew up in Europe, she’s fluent in French, and dreams about appearing on Jeopardy! But she’s also sort of crazy and kinky and wonderful, and an interesting character to have on television. In season five, episode seven, she and David are experimenting with handcuffs in bed, until her father arrives to take her out to dinner. Oops!

Erica McKay

photo credit: Fox

I’ve learned so much from teen girls on TV: Brenda Walsh, Angela Chase, Julie Taylor, Daria Morgendorffer … But as a young girl watching Beverly Hills, 90210, I was enthralled when, in season four, episode 17, “Thicker than Water,” Dylan’s half-sister Erica got her period for the first time. Not knowing what to do, Dylan takes Erica to Cindy Walsh, and congratulations are in order, though Erica hopes this development doesn’t make her go “boy crazy.” Unfortunately, she later becomes a prostitute.

Steve Sanders

photo credit: Fox

On our podcast, we often talk about how Ian Ziering is just hitting his stride now, in his fifties—a happily married father, a Chippendale, and the star of the surprise hit movie series Sharknado. We see the seeds of this planted in season 10 with Steve Sanders, when he finally comes into his own as the husband to pregnant Janet Sosna. He hangs a poster of a penguin family in their home as a symbol of dedicated fatherhood. Cue the happy tears!

Honorable Mentions: Peach Pit Willie, Jackie Taylor (mid-coke), Jim Walsh’s shoulder hair

Lizzie’s Picks:

Emily Valentine

photo credit: Fox

Despite nearly marrying Kelly, devotees of the series know that Emily Valentine was Brandon’s one true love. She arrived on the scene at the commencement of “junior” year, and later returned in seasons four and five. Picking one favorite Emily scene is like Sophie’s choice! I’d have to go with season two, episode 16: When Emily refuses to accept her breakup with Brandon, her behavior goes from zero to stalker status—culminating in Emily threatening to light the gang’s homecoming float ablaze.

Lucinda Nicholson

photo credit: Fox

Although Brandon is my least favorite character, two of his love interests made my top four! Perhaps that’s because both Emily and Lucinda are the self-assured women who most challenged Brando. Being married (to Brandon’s professor, no less!) didn’t deter Lucinda, a “cultural anthropologist,” from exploring the human mating ritual with Brandon. Her most aggressive move comes season four, when she shows up uninvited at Brandon’s Task Force retreat in D.C.—sporting a completely inappropriate, midriff-baring jacket.

Dylan McKay

photo credit: Fox

I’m still single because I’ve spent my whole life holding out for Dylan McKay. Beneath that tortured, bad-boy exterior and fivehead lies the gentle heart of a man who is both an intellectual and a feminist. During one of his first scenes in the series (season one, episode two), Dylan ditches class—not to smoke a joint, but to catch up on Byron: The Collected Works. Of Byron, Dylan says: “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know. That was him, and that’s me.”

Iris McKay

photo credit: Fox

It takes a singular woman to spawn the likes of Dylan, and Iris McKay does not disappoint. Although she lives in Hawaii, Iris perfectly embodies the all-natural, “enlightened” lifestyle that typifies L.A.’s elite. In her debut episode (season two, episode 10), Iris quotes Joni Mitchell and visits a “mind gym.” Despite initial reservations about Brenda’s “dark” aura, Iris (like me) believed Brenda was Dylan’s soulmate. My fave moment comes as Iris comforts Brenda post-breakup (season three, episode 20) and gifts her a healing crystal.

Honorable Mentions: LuAnn “Passed Out in Her Pantyhose” Pruit, Stuart “Gives Good Woo” Carson, Thespian Roy Randolph.

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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