Hey, Baby - What's Your ZIP Code?

Back in "the day", there was this TV show called Beverly Hills, 90210.  It was, loosely, a fish out of water dramedy about two kids who move from Minnesota to California and find themselves immersed in a culture that could not be more foreign to them.

The kids were twin siblings, Brenda and Brandon.  Because of course they were.  Their father worked in finance, or something.  Their Mom kept their new Beverly Hills home clean and operational.

Within a few days, Brenda had befriended Kelly and Donna.  Brandon made pals with Steve and Dylan.  Dylan was dating Kelly.   And then, there was Andrea - the editor in chief of the school paper, who was friends with Brandon (et al) but didn't have the pedigree of the other girls - so she was kind of "one of the guys", except for her massive crush on Brandon.

And by the end of the year, Brenda and Dylan had paired up, Kelly and Brandon were dating and, I think that's when they introduced David Silver - the on-again/off-again love interest for Donna.

The only other "regular" I haven't mention is Nat.  He's an older guy who runs The Peach Pit - a diner where the kids all hang out, and where Brandon works.  Because he's just a regular guy, gosh darnit!

They cycled through a bunch of other love interests over the series run, but it was mainly about Brenda/Brandon/Dylan/Kelly/Steve/Andrea/Donna/David...

They graduated High School the same year I did, and because I was a television fanatic, I wrote about 90210 for my school paper at least once, and probably more than that.  I was addicted to it, and it was terrible, and I loved it.  My relationship with 90210 was complicated.

I didn't have a TV crush on either Brandon or Dylan, like most of the girls watching it - if anything, I kind of dug Steve - he was a total bro-man asshole.  But he had a sense of humor and seemed like he would be more fun than overly earnest Brandon or dark, broody Dylan, whose bad-boy grimace made him look mostly introspective, but at times, constipated.


I got this eyebrow scar opening a tub of Metamucil.
I related, honestly, to Andrea - the girl who would never really fit in with the popular girls.  Friendly in school, but never part of the "in crowd".  But even Andrea failed me.  She ended up getting pregnant by a college student who was working as a waiter at some swank party.  She decided she could forgo her lifelong dream of going east for college (Harvard, Yale, whatev) and would keep the baby, stay with waiter boy, get married and raise the kid.  Hilarity ensued.  But, if we were being totally honest and staying in character, Andrea would have walked into the nearest Planned Parenthood, emerged several hours later, then stoically packed her teddy bear and a photo booth strip of pictures her and Jesse as the only remaining mementos of their whirlwind summer fling.  A tear would fall on the photo and blur it.  But then she'd tape up the box and get the hell out of Dodge.

But honesty wasn't a strong suit for 90210.  The actors were not High School aged, for starters - which is fine, but these guys looked too polished, and honestly, a little too weathered to be High School Kids.

That wasn't universally true, but... those kids looked nothing like the kids I went to school with.

It was not a bad show.  I watched the hell out of it, and I invested in it.

All of this to say - yesterday, we lost a member of West Beverly, Class of 1993.

Luke Perry (Dylan McKay) died after a massive stroke.  He was 52 (to give you some context, I am also Class of 1993 and I'm 44).

He was, by all accounts, a decent human being.  By this, I mean the actor, and not his famous character.    Although Dylan McKay was not the worst, he was definitely portrayed as a troubled soul who acted out in any number of ways.  Ultimately, Jim and Cindy Walsh (Brandon and Brenda's folks) came to see him as a third child - and since Brenda (the mercurial Shannen Doherty) split for good after Season Four, he filled a space left by a petulant daughter.

But Luke Perry appeared to be a decent guy.  And I know that while he was not my cup of tea, many, many of my contemporaries adored Mr. Perry.  He was accessible, charming, mysterious, and safe.  It's easy to love a young man who can never personally hurt you or disappoint you.

So, given that I was a fan of the show (even as I scorn it, too), it means that part of my youth died with Luke Perry yesterday.

A few final notes that don't really fit into the rest of this post:

Carol Potter, who played Cindy Walsh, looked uncannily like my homeroom (and algebra) teacher, Mrs. Knight.  I liked her.  She was kind and sympathetic to my inability to Math. Baffled, but sympathetic.  My senior year, for Homecoming, we decorated our door (movie theme) Saturday (K)night Fever.  I feel like we came in 2nd.  Not bad.

Also my senior year, I was in a Senior Development class where we quasi-learned life skills.  We had to create a budget, "find" and "insure" an apartment, and a few other random things that were supposed to get us ready to function as adults.  We also learned a little bit about how drugs are bad, mmkay?

The point to that is that we had to do a skit about something - bullying, making friends, dating, hygiene - it was a weird set of topics.  I somehow convinced my group to do a mash-up.  Beverly Hillbillies, 90210.  It was funny, and I think we did well on on it - not that I actually cared. I took the class to fill a hole in my schedule.  It was a blend of home ec and health class - neither were especially exciting to me.  But it was a funny skit, and I think we nailed it.

So, all of that to say- Farewell, Dylan McKay - you were the James Dean of a new generation.  Luke, we hardly knew ye.

ae




Comments

Because I was in college (although still younger than Luke Perry, which makes it funny to me that he played a high school student) I skipped 90210, although hearing it described as "a fish out of water dramedy" makes me wish I had watched it. I had friends who were big fans. A couple of them had a campus-adjacent apartment and one night as I cooked dinner for them (something I liked to do in those days) they watched it. I can't remember what they were now but I heard a few lines from the next room that made me laugh.
I haven't seen most of what he was in but from his filmography it looks like he enjoyed taking fun roles, including ones that made fun of him.
It did remind me, though, that he has a cameo in The Fifth Element. He plays a character who, I always think, disappears much too soon. And now I feel the same way about Luke Perry.