It’s impossible to describe what a big deal the original Beverly Hills 90210 was to me and my fellow aging Gen Xers. While yes, the show was terrible and much of our viewing of it was meant to be “ironic,” it was still the first ever (and for a long time only ever) youth oriented prime time soap opera. It was on the still new still “edgy” Fox network. The characters were our age!
We went to high school with them and later followed them from high school to our college “Fox drama night” parties where we watched 90210 paired with its supposedly more “adult” spin-off Melrose Place.
So it’s understandable that about five years ago young-skewing network the CW sought to harness the power of this existing teen soap brand. This also coincided with a brief moment in which teen soap operas about rich kids were a hot genre again, due initially to the brief heyday of The OC as a water cooler show and continuing with the CW’s own Gossip Girl, another once popular and buzzed about show which just ended its run with almost no one noticing late last year. Similarly, this second version of Beverly Hills 90210 is going to end its run after its current, fifth season wraps up in May and with almost no one watching.
Nowadays the hot genre for younger television viewers isn’t teen soap operas about rich kids but teen soap operas with some kind of supernatural or genre element like the CW’s two current big hits The Vampire Diaries and Arrow. The 90210 reboot was launched with a big promotional push and a fair amount of buzz in 2008, and for the first two seasons cast members from the original 90s version of the show such as Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling were regulars. However, since then the show has suffered a precipitous decline in ratings. According to Entertainment Weekly the current season is only averaging a pathetic .6 million viewers “in the demo” (age 18-49) per episode.
The show has seven completed episodes left to air until it ends for good in May. There had been some hope that the series would be renewed for one final season, due to CW President Mark Pedowitz saying in January that he was “ big believer in giving fans a very satisfactory conclusion,” but now it looks like this 90210 reboot will suffer the ignominious fate of joining the ranks of those serialized drams which are forced to end before getting the chance to come up with a series finale.