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July 1, 2015

Sure, 90210 was terrible ... but it's not made for me

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 3rd 2008 11:08AM
90210 castI decided to bite the bullet and watched the two-hour (!) premiere of 90210 last night. Because the CW decided to not bother sending screeners of either episode to critics, I was girding myself for a show that made me want to wince every thirty seconds or so.

In that regard, it didn't do as badly as I thought. I only winced about once per minute.

Of course, that wasn't a good thing. My fellow Squadder Kona gave the show a "liked it but it needs work" review, and I agree with her about the "needs work" part. I mean, come on! The kids were cliches, the acting was stiff, and the dialogue was boring. I mean, hell, even Jessica Walter's character seemed like it was a caricature of the "slutty, boozy old broad" character we've seen a hundred times before.

But as soon as I saw that girl's head lift up from Ethan's lap in that first segment of the show, I realized something: The CW doesn't want me watching this show.

I'm a 37-year-old male. Yes, I watched the original 90210 when I was in college, though I probably didn't watch beyond the second season or so. But the CW most definitely doesn't care if I watch this show or any other shows it puts on the air; they're aiming most of their shows towards women aged 18-to-34 (and probably girls aged 12-to-18, too). It's no coincidence that one of the few shows on the network that I like, Reaper, is one of the few that's more marketed towards young men than women. Even there, though, I'm probably slightly older than the audience they're looking for.

So, after watching the oral sex scene and thinking to myself in typical get-off-my-lawn style, "It's only 8:05 and they're showing a blow job!?", I had my epiphany. And that's when I lso realized that the network didn't send the pilot out for review because grumpy old critics like me were going to trash the show, anyway, so why expose the show to such scrutiny?

(And if you don't think TV critics aren't grumpy old folks, you weren't in the ballroom at the TCA press tour. Don't get me wrong, many of my fellow attendees were funny, thoughtful, and creative. But they would never be mistaken for fans of, say, Gossip Girl or America's Next Top Model).

I'm not the only one who's come to the revelation; Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger mentioned this in his column the other day, citing the fact that the network's GG campaign actually used negative comments by critics to promote the show. In doing that, they essentially promoted it as "the show the old farts don't want you to watch." I'm guessing that's what they want to do with 90210.

But 90210 isn't as scandalous as GG. In fact, it's pretty tame in comparison, more in line with the moral lessons the kids learned on the original show. And, the presence of original cast members Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty -- neither of whom made more than token appearances -- will always remind the audience that their parents (or... uh... much older but cool aunts and uncles) watched a similar show way back when. And that may not be enough to save the show, no matter how many times Lori Laughlin says the word "penis."

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