I am drowning in nostalgia. As I look around my apartment my decor hinges entirely upon the past. Above a shelf of books I’ve already read and refuse to get rid of sits a replica of the hoverboard from Back to the Future II. On another shelf I have three versions of Freddy Krueger dolls in their original packaging. And across from where I am currently sitting, a framed photo of former President Barack Obama smiles down on me. I am hard-pressed to exist in the “now.”
There is this weird made-for-TV version of Alice in Wonderland in which Carol Channing (as the White Queen) sings a song with this line: “Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday… but never ever jam today.” I live by that idea. I covet the past. I worry about the future. I deny the present. The present and the past are colliding in the form of a reboot of Beverly Hills 90210, a teen drama that spoke to me on so many levels.
Superficial levels: fashion, money, popularity, sex, drugs. Deep levels: fucked up parents, depression, acting out, finding yourself. And of course my somewhat predictable desire to live in California, specifically Los Angeles. It was an awakening that stayed with me long enough to feel unbridled joy over the idea of a reboot, something I would normally scoff at like an asshole.
Last night the first episode of the newly rebooted season aired and it was very nearly perfect. This isn’t a traditional reboot, which is perhaps why it got a bit of a pass. It didn’t have to compete with something I loved 25+ years ago. It incorporated enough of the original show to reel me in, but it wasn’t the original show that delighted me. In this version of Beverly Hills 90210 we meet our favorite characters as themselves.
Of course one character in particular was missing and that was Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry who passed away earlier this year. I had strange low level stress while watching the show, waiting for everyone to acknowledge his absence. It felt like the first time I watched Titanic. You know the ship is going to sink. The question is, when? How was the show going to treat the death of Luke Perry? The answer: with respect. The cast toasted him at the end and I stared at each of their faces wondering how it must have felt to say good bye to someone who actually died. They weren’t missing Dylan McKay. They were missing Luke Perry. It was subtle, as it should have been. But what brought the rest of them together in this interesting reboot of the show?
The gang reunites at a 30th anniversary event in Las Vegas. The first thing I fell in love with was the self-awareness of this version of Beverly Hills 90210. People poke fun at Tori Spelling because her father created the show and yet she is broke. Jason Priestly was golden boy Brandon Walsh, but we are reminded time and time again that Jason is anything but. And when Shannen Doherty drops in via an IG story to talk about how she has grown beyond the show it’s like a kick in the face to everyone else at the convention.
It’s self-deprecating and funny. It’s all the drama except there is an element of realness to it because the characters have been stripped away. When Jennie Garth sleeps with Jason Priestly that’s what you get. It’s not Kelly Taylor and Brandon Walsh.
It had to be this way. I’m older and so are they, and while I am endlessly curious about where the characters of Beverly Hills 90210 would be today, I’m more invested in where the actors are. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the season.