The only thing I love more than great television is awful television. Sometimes a show is so ridiculous and poorly conceived that it’s impossible not to love every embarrassing absurd minute of it.
When the new 90210 first started, I was a bit turned off by its seeming desire to offer genuine heartfelt drama. There were family outings, deep father-son talks and even a bipolar disorder. It took itself way too seriously.
Now in its third season, however, 90210 has given over to its darker inclinations and is pure crazy melodrama, just the way I like it. Every Monday is like a smorgasbord of wackiness with over-the-top storylines, psychotic cousins and character shifts so dramatic that even a chipmunk on YouTube couldn’t accurately do them justice.
Here are just nine of the reasons 90210 is my favorite guilty pleasure on TV.
Crazy Cousin Emily
At first I was turned off that the show was adding Annie’s Kansas cousin to the mix, especially since it was painfully obvious from the start that she would be Single White Female-ing Annie. But Cousin Emily has embraced the dark side and become the kind of villain you expect to see on a soap opera, using elaborate methods of sabotage to ruin and steal Annie’s life. In the latest episode, this involved trashing her dressing room and framing Annie, only to result in Annie attacking her in the school cafeteria for a hair-pulling guilty pleasure extravaganza.
Gratuitous Use of Hot Shirtless Guys
90210 knows what its key demo is (females, 18-34) and it caters to that perfectly by throwing in random hot shirtless guys in virtually every episode. One week the men of West Bev are doing a firefighter stripper show to raise money for breast cancer, the next week Liam is working at a clothing store where all the men must work without shirts and this week, Naomi planned to get into college by making a Hot Dudes of West Bev calendar.
Marijuana is No Big Deal
Many shows would have a very special episode about the dangers of marijuana where a character takes one hit and then develops the reefer madness, crashing a car or TPing a gym (yes, for those of you with strong enough memories, that was a 7th Heaven shout-out). But on 90210, Ivy was chilling in her house smoking some weed right in front of her mom, and the only result was that instead of stealing her mom’s stash, Ivy had to get a prescription for medical weed.
Naomi’s Mood Shifts
This season alone, spoiled rich girl Naomi Clark has inherited her money, got drunk at a party she hosted where she served cookies of her face, reported her rape to the police, fought back against her attacker, fell victim to a guru meditation cult and now she’s in love with a nerd. That’s a lot of character shifts for one person, but Naomi’s endless changes are just crazy enough to work.
Throwback Guest Stars
A lot of shows try to get hot, current guest stars, but recently 90210 has gone after Nelly and Snoop Dogg, not exactly the most culturally relevant celebrities. But it’s that old-school, retro vibe that makes 90210 feel both current and nostalgic at the same time, a delightful paradox that only makes me love it even more.
Gay Students Are Everywhere
Before season 3, gays at West Bev were limited to Adrianna’s brief lesbian fling. But now that Teddy has suddenly come out of the closet, gays are everywhere. Silver was friends with flamboyant choreographer Ian (Teddy’s first boyfriend, who has apparently disappeared now that Teddy broke up with him). And last week Teddy was taking out his frustrations by hitting tennis balls off the roof and he accidentally hit a hot gay student who then hit on Teddy. It’s wonderfully ridiculous that now that there’s a gay student in the main cast, all these other gay students are popping up like whac-a-moles.
The Annoying Adrianna Tate-Duncan
Every good guilty pleasure needs an insufferable villain, and 90210 has Adrianna Tate-Duncan. The wannabe music and reality TV star is pathetically weak and blames everyone except herself (her reality show almost failed because her ex-boyfriend refused to sign his release, so naturally she assumed he was trying to destroy her career). Her narcissism knows no bounds and if she show can just make her even more terrible, I might be in love.
Getting Rid of the Adults
At first 90210 tried to have storylines with the kids and adults as the Wilsons, Kelly Taylor and Mr. Matthews all had prominent roles. Now they’ve all been virtually written out and the kids are raising themselves, just like any normal high school TV show.
Going to California University
The transition from high school to college is always hard for TV shows, but 90210 started the move this week by having Naomi obsess over getting into the fictional California University (where many original Beverly Hills 90210 kids went). Though it hasn’t started yet, it’s clear that, eventually, every single one of the major cast members will have to go to California University in one of those preposterous stories that only exist on cheesey teen dramas. And to be honest, the thought of seeing all these kids at CU already has me hungry for a fourth season of my favorite guilty pleasure.
(Image courtesy of the CW)