In case you were wondering if during a major recession the average person would resent a show about teenagers living far outside the financial realities of virtually everyone’s means, four seasons and counting of a show like 90210 would suggest the answer is a resounding ‘no’. The reboot of the popular 90s series about the famous Beverly Hills zip code and the rich, troubled teens that live within it plays at about the same levels of melodrama as The O.C. but it lacks any of the clever writing or talented cast that made the Pete Gallagher show a guilty pleasure and simply devolves into soap opera garbage. The fourth season sees teens tackling unrealistic stories (even for the filthy rich) and only further proves its writers are ridiculously detached from what it’s really like to be a teenager and that its cast is woefully incapable of making overly dramatic incidents even slightly interesting.
To suggest the season has plot is really giving it too much credit. What it really has is a collection of characters with a variety of problems that they languish in together whilst adjusting to life as college kids who still throw extravagant parties, who still consider marriage far too early, who still have pregnancy scares, and whose relationships are about as thin as AnnaLynne McCord’s wrists. Will Dixon’s (Tristan Wilds) aspiring musical career push him into a spiral of drug addiction? Probably. Will Annie (Shenae Grimes) and Liam (Matt Lanter) continue their “he’s too stupid to see the right move” relationship of frustration and bad decisions? You bet. Will Naomi (McCord) continue to be an egocentric bitch even after having her heart broken but while occasionally showing signs of humanity that pain has unearthed? Like clockwork.
90210 hasn’t added anything new to the primetime soap opera and it doesn’t seem intent on trying.
Nevermind that one of the show’s main teenaged characters looks like she’s 30 (AnnaLynne McCord) and that the rest don’t seem to be too far behind, only one or two of them seem capable of rising above the shoddily written scripts and the dull cinematography that somehow makes beaches, luxurious mansions, and expensive cars seem dull and dreary. The show’s attempts at suggesting future conflicts have all the subtlety of a giant gong going off and may as well be accompanied by menacing music (Dun dun DUN!). At least with the classic 90s series it had the excuse that standards for TV teen dramas were ridiculously low and already aspired to little more than morality tales on teen pregnancy, drug abuse, divorce, etc.
The new iteration treats teen marriage like it’s a common occurrence in opulent families when in fact it’s much rarer. However, in an effort to cram as many dramatic circumstances into one set of shallow characters, who are literally nothing except the problems they’ve been assigned as not a single one of them really has a personality, the show forgot to make them actual characters.
I can understand that people want something they can watch without having to think at all and which allows them to escape the troubles of their own lives and bask in those of richer, stupider folks. But there’s nothing that says such entertainment can’t attempt something new or go in bold new directions. 90210 never even pretends like it wants to do that and boldly goes where every trashy soap opera has gone before. It’s a painfully bad season of a depressingly bad show.
DVD Bonus Features
The show may be awful, but it does treat its fans well with a DVD set that includes the basics like a gag reel, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, and production featurettes that cover shooting locations and costumes and makeup. Two additional featurettes highlight the Top 40 tracks used in the show and also offer a review of the season’s main events. Finally there’s a music video for “I Don’t Want You Anymore”.
"90210: The Fourth Season" is on sale October 2, 2012 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Stuart Gillard, Harry Sinclair. Written by Darren Star, Jeff Judah, Gabe Sachs, Rob Thomas. Starring AnnaLynne McCord, Matt Lanter, Shenae Grimes, Tristan Wilds, Jessica Stroup, Michael Steger, Jessica Lowndes.