Yesterday the world lost 90s teen idol Luke Perry. He became famous in the early 90s because of his role on the legendary teen soap opera “Beverly Hills 90210”. Legendary is not an exaggeration. At least not for me. There has never been anything like “90210” and there will never be anything like that again.
The main reason there will never be anything like “90210” is because I’ll never be sixteen again. Once you live past your teen aged years I don’t think that it’s possible to focus that type of energy on a TV program and fictional characters. There’s that and Luke Perry’s rise to fame occurred in a bygone era.
The year is 1991. The place is suburban Detroit, Michigan. It’s Tuesday night. In about twenty four hours the favorite show of me and all of my peers is going to air. The countdown is now a matter of hours and not days. The next day in school I look up at classroom wall clocks during the day. I’m counting down the hours to when “90210” came on. It was on the tip of our tongues and the forefront of all of our little early 90s, teen minds.
School is out. YES! It won’t be much longer. It’s just a few hours more. I just needed to get through dinner and probably some homework and then it would be time to see what happened next in lives of privileged, attractive (even the homely one was kind of cute) White teenagers that live under perpetually sunny skies.
I remember that “Entertainment Tonight” came on at 7:30PM. My girlfriends, two other Midwestern, suburban, Black girls, would be on the phone talking to each other by that time on a three way call. That’s how we had conferences about TV broadcasts before the social media aged. We would get so excited when the closing credits to “Entertainment Tonight” started to roll. It was now just a matter of minutes before the main event.
And then it began:
When the first few notes of the “90210” theme song came through my floor model TV set my heart skipped a beat. My friends and I created a short cacophony of squeals and heavily breathing the word YESSSSS into land line phones! We excitedly chatted during the commercials. Once the show began we held the phone in silence until the next commercial break.
“Beverly Hills 90210” was good stuff. We followed the love story between Brenda and bad boy Dylan. I can’t remember if Dylan went to school or not. I think I remember him going to the prom but I don’t remember him being in class. The love triangle between Brenda, Dylan and Kelly was absolutely riveting. And the sweet story of David protecting Donna’s honor melted our hearts.
The show was also educational. I learned where Baja was because of Dylan McKay. My friends and I looked that up because we wanted to know where on the Earth Dylan went on his solitary surf vacations. To this day I think of Dylan whenever I hear the name Baja. We didn’t use the internet then so I don’t know how we looked it up. I’m assuming we found Baja on a globe at school or we used an encyclopedia.
“90210” was absolutely epic. I don’t even think kids today can relate to anything like 9021 mania because they are growing up with on demand entertainment like Netflix and YouTube. Back in my day we just had to eagerly await new episodes and new seasons of our favorite shows. It caused mild hysteria.
Anyhow, RIP Luke Perry. I’m getting a little emotional writing this post. Thank you for the memories. There will never be anyone else like him because times change and people change. Looking back at it the show was very corny and I don’t think that today’s teenagers would accept “90210” as entertainment. There would surely be complaints that the show was elitist and lacked diversity. But I loved it and I’m grateful to have grown up in what pretty much amounts to the Victorian era. Thanks for the memories.