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BH90210 is easily the weirdest show to air on Fox since The Masked Singer, and it’s merely a coincidence that both happen to heavily feature Tori Spelling. Don’t get us wrong, we’re thrilled that the entire original Beverly Hills, 90210 cast agreed to do a new show together. We’re just not sure why it had to be this show.
The simplest way of explaining BH90210 without making it sound like an episode of Black Mirror is that it’s a scripted drama set in an alternate reality where Beverly Hills, 90210 aired just as we remember it, only the private lives of its stars are completely different. For example, Brian Austin Green is playing himself, but rather than being married to Megan Fox, this version of Green is married to an R&B superstar named Shay (played by Power‘s La La Anthony).
This detachment from reality effectively neuters the show’s myriad soapy storylines — ranging from financial woes to extramarital escapades — giving the whole thing an unfortunately low-stakes vibe. In the second episode, Jason Priestley’s “wife” (played by Vanessa Lachey) tries to convince him to board a Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot: “Think of the possibilities,” she says. “Brandon and Kelly, back together? People would eat it up!” And she’s right, they would. So why, instead, is Fox giving us an entire show about not-Brandon and not-Kelly not together?
Aside from not knowing what its audience wants, the show also doesn’t seem to know what it is. We’ve already established that it lacks the dramatic intrigue of the original series, but with scripts largely devoid of humor, it doesn’t quite work as a comedy, either. During an audition in Episode 2, Green reads a movie script and remarks, “Is this a comedy or a drama? It almost reads like it doesn’t know what it is.” The fact that the show proudly flaunts its own nonsense is… a choice.
The show’s saving grace is its nostalgia factor, which is admittedly strong. Tonight’s premiere (8/7c) finds the old Peach Pit crew — Spelling, Green, Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering and Gabrielle Carteris — reuniting at a Beverly Hills, 90210 fan convention for the show’s 30th anniversary, and it’s damn good to see everybody together again. (Shannen Doherty joins the fun shortly thereafter.)
And maybe that’s enough for you. Maybe you’re the kind of die-hard 90210 fan who would pay good money to watch the cast read from the phonebook for a few weeks, in which case you’ll probably love this meta reboot. Otherwise, you’re better off just clicking through a “Where Are They Now?” gallery and calling it a day.
THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | While BH90210 is good for a quick nostalgia fix, the novelty doesn’t last long, leaving you with a convoluted, low-stakes dramedy that — like its audience — deserves so much better.