I shouldn’t care. That’s what I keep telling myself. But having been with them for almost 10 years, I’m personally invested in their future. They left me eight years back in 2000 (one of them left me six years earlier), but I stayed loyal. Somehow, I knew they’d both be back.
And I was right. But the joy that came with the reunion of myself, Kelly Taylor, and Brenda Walsh was so short-lived that it almost wasn’t worth it. Almost.
I know what you’re thinking, “90210 doesn’t seem like your kind of show, Kenny.” That’s not far from the truth. It isn’t my kind of show.
I like to handicap the number of good speaking black parts on any given TV show or movie and, notwithstanding productions by the Wayans and Tyler Perry, the number is usually between 1.5 and 2.5—- and the under is almost always a safe bet.
If it had premiered this season, the new “90210” would join “Gossip Girl” and “Smallville” and everything else the CW broadcasts on my permanent ignore list. And please don’t e-mail me to point out that “America’s Next Top Model” features a black host because, I’m sorry, models are not supposed to talk. For proof, check out Cindy Crawford in “Fair Game.”
But it didn’t premier this season. It premiered in 1990 when I was doing a two-year bid in a small suburb of Albany, NY just trying to fit in with my new friends at Shenendehowa Central High School.
On some level, I identified with Brandon and Brenda Walsh as they tried to fit in with their new friends at West Beverly High (I identified with Brandon, I just wanted to have sex with Brenda).
I don’t remember any good speaking black parts on the original show, but I suppressed my inner Chuck D just long enough to get hooked.
Imagine my happiness when the show not only returned, but they had trimmed the fat off the old cast (that’s not a shot at Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who, I’m sure, will be hot again some day).
Jason Priestly and Luke Perry haven’t aged well enough, Tori Spelling is going to keep doing her reality show because her dad isn’t signing the checks, and Brian Austin Green is going to keep doing Megan Fox as long as she lets him.
But Jenny Garth and Shannen Doherty were coming back. Kelly and Brenda back together again for the first time in 14 years? Be still my beating heart.
Then I read the fine print. Kelly Taylor was only signed on for 11 episodes, Brenda Walsh for four. I literally did a double take. Four episodes out of a 22-episode season? That’s barely 20 percent.
How can the triumphant return of Brenda Walsh to the world’s most famous zip code only merit four shows? She’s been gone for almost a decade-and-a-half. It will take at least two shows to get caught up on where she’s been, what she’s been up to, and how she’s going to patch things up with Kelly. Then, of course, we’ll need some Brenda stories. Four episodes just isn’t going to cut it.
I figured it was just part of the negotiation. Shannen was saying she couldn’t commit to more than four shows because she’s in the process of pitching another project (which is code for “screw you, pay me”).
So the network would focus group the first couple of shows, check the ratings, and see if they should make an investment. Apparently, they’ve decided it’s not worth it. So I’m preparing myself for the idea that last night’s episode was the last time I’ll ever see Brenda Walsh. Four episodes. It’s not a lot, but I guess it will have to be enough and I’ll have to be grateful.
As far as the new show is concerned, I’m not sure if I’ll be there for the rest of the way. It was hard enough to buy a teenager who lived alone in his own beach house and drove a vintage Porsche Spyder to school, much less one who drives a Bentley convertible and has access to a private jet. And to be totally honest, Annie and Naomi are no Brenda and Kelly.
But there were two minutes that made it all worth it for me when I saw two things I never let myself believe I would see. It started at four hours and fifty minutes into the season with Brenda and Kelly walking through the halls of West Beverly High looking all grown up and MILFy and ended with Kelly’s little sister, Silver, planting a kiss on the new Brandon, who is black. That’s progress.
If I never see Brenda again, at least I’ll know exactly when the new 90210 jumped the shark.
Kenny Mack is a writer, comedian, and social commentator living in Santa Monica who hopes Hollywood doesn’t forget about the top end of the 18-49 demographic. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org