Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A return to West Beverly brings up no shortage of issues for the 90210 kids

Illustration for article titled A return to West Beverly brings up no shortage of issues for the 90210 kids
Photo: Hulton Archive (Getty Images).

Watch This offers TV and movie recommendations inspired by new releases or premieres, or occasionally our own inscrutable whims. With The Last O.G. settling in on TBS and FX’s Legion returning from the astral plane for season two, we’re taking a look at some of our favorite TV homecomings.


Beverly Hills 90210, “Reunion” (season eight, episode 27; originally aired 4/15/1998) 

Everybody’s five-year high school reunion is pretty pointless, because many people have a similar story: “I went to college, and I have a dumb job now.” But in the waning days of Fox teen soap opera 90210, that doesn’t stop West Beverly’s class of 1993 from collectively freaking out over their five-year return to their old stomping grounds. When a reunion booklet includes detailed descriptions of the gang’s old personas, everyone is looking to get as far away from their high-school selves as possible: Steve as bimbo Casanova, Donna as vestal virgin, Val as ultimate bad girl. Even Andrea comes back, despite the fact that she’s in the midst of a divorce from Jesse, as her teenage pregnancy marriage, unsurprisingly, didn’t work out. Naturally, perfect Brandon wants her to stick it out for the sake of the baby, because his connection to the reality of normal humans is tenuous at best.

The machinations really kick into high gear at the reunion itself—which, like all TV/movie reunions, takes place at the school, even though this could never happen in real life because of standard laws against having alcohol in public schools. But if this reunion had taken place at the Beverly Hills Country Club or wherever, we wouldn’t have gotten the best bonding moment in the entire series between Kelly and her frequent arch-nemesis Val, as Kelly glares at a scratched-in piece of graffiti over a row of lockers that reads “Kelly is a slut.” Val thinks this must refer to some other Kelly, until her frenemy reveals that she lost her virginity by being raped in the bushes by Rob, an upperclassman who’s just strolling around the reunion like he’s not a rapist monster. Val’s subsequent takedown of the guy is remarkably satisfying for a 90210 episode, as is the two women smashing that offensive piece of tile.

Most of the other 90210-ers, though, are just grappling with their varying levels of distance from the 1993 grads they were five years ago. Steve tries to date a nice woman (notorious show killer Lindsay Price as Janet), but stumbles at first. Val somehow manages to convince a few people that she works to help the poor. David, once voted “most talented,” now churns out commercial jingles instead of the pop hits he’d dreamed of. And “most likely to succeed” Andrea has it worst of all, unable to do her speech because she actually dropped out of med school in a failed attempt to save her marriage. Fortunately, perfect Brandon is on hand to remind everyone that even though they may not be as far ahead as they thought they’d be the last time they walked the halls of West Beverly, it’s only their five-year reunion, after all. Best to save the real freak-outs for the 10-year. Possibly the 20.

Availability: Most of Beverly Hills 90210’s 10-season run is streaming on Hulu and Amazon, and is available for purchase on iTunes. It can also be obtained on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon or possibly your local video store/library.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.