It was a cold and rainy weekend here on the East coast, so I did what any logical blogger would do — I watched and recapped the Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story. Join me down this rabbit hole of ‘90s magic, won’t you?
We open on Aaron Spelling in a meeting. He wants to relaunch Charlie’s Angels, the suits want him to focus on teenagers. DO IT, AARON. It seems Fox has acquired the merchandizing rights to Beverly Hills High School. Darren Star is attached to write and they want him to produce. They pitch it as thirtysomething for teenagers. Aaron shoots it down.
Barry Diller calls Aaron to get him to do the show. Aaron’s like, eh, teenagers. Darren points out that Aaron knows teens in Beverly Hills pretty well — he has two of them, doesn’t he? Aaron goes home to the infamous Spelling mansion (fingers crossed we see the gift-wrapping room, you guys) to look out at Tori, sunning by the pool. Tori tells him that TV’s audience is younger and cooler now. Aaron calls Barry back.
Real talk: the actress playing Tori looks way more like Jennie, and it is very confusing to tell them apart. Blogger hardship, you guys.
I’m sorry, girl. You should have worked with casting.
Luke Perry is working construction as his coworkers heckle him about being a movie star. He gets a promotion, but that means no more auditions. He’s cool with it.
The Jennie Garth actress is perfect, she even has Jennie’s tone down just right. Jennie’s booked a show Hall High, a musical based in high school. Jennie might want to hold out for something better. Her agent is incredulous.
Meanwhile Gabrielle Carteris’s agent tells her she’s too old for LA. Stone cold. Gabrielle wants to go out for pilot season anyway. You do you, honey!
The actor playing Jason Priestly is also pretty good, and totally has Brandon’s mannerisms down. He sneaks a peek at his roommate, Brad Pitt’s, script. Why did I not know any of this? I was a child of the 90s. I loved this show. Thank you, Lifetime, for informing me.
Tori’s once again sneaking a look at her dad’s scripts. She finds the 90210 script and smiles. Aaron’s having trouble casting the leads, the talent pool is thin and all the good ones are taken. Good thing Tori knows all the best young actors. She tells her dad about Jason and Shannen.
We get our first look at Shannen reading for Brenda! THE BANGS ARE THERE. You guys, the bangs. I die. At the casting call, Shannen and Jason keep standing too close to each other for siblings.
Love them FOREVER
Luke shows up to read for Steve. AS IF. Even Luke knows this is a terrible idea.
Tori shows up with a fake name to read for Kelly, though everyone knows who she is anyway. They give her Donna’s part, because Kelly’s role is already going to Jennie. Okay, I do know from my obsession with this show that Tori auditioned and always got a role with one line on every show her dad did, and so Donna’s part really only had one line at first, then grew in popularity. Here to help, my loves.
The cast shows up for the table read. Shannen is unimpressed because she knows everyone in Hollywood, and none of these fools look familiar. Now that I have gotten a closer look at the actress playing Shannen, this is not a good match. No wonder they went so heavy on the bangs. The girls all think Jason is hot, because Luke is not here yet.
You know who never shows up in this movie? Any of the “adults.” No Nat, no Cindy. No Jim. Sorry, buddy!
Ian introduces himself as Eye-an. Love it. Tori introduces herself to Brian as the older kids mock the younger ones.
Just going to leave this riiiiight here for ya.
Shannen insists that she and Jason sit next to each other at the read. They’re excited to be on a brand new network, Fox. They expect mega fanciness, and instead get a broken-down set. They’re shooting in the middle of the porn district.
They shoot the pilot. After the screening, everyone looks concerned. Andrea applies for a hostess job. Aaron knows it’s missing something — edge. They need a bad boy. They call Luke, even though he’s working construction — shirtless. He smokes during his audition. Aaron likes him, even though Fox doesn’t. So Aaron’s like whatever, I’ll pay his salary myself. Aaron Spelling, hero of television. (Not being sarcastic, the man was a genius.)
Luke shows up on set. He plans to only stay for six episodes, then he’s going back to “making an honest living.” They all expect to be cancelled.
Bros forever. Or at least 10 seasons.
The first season does terrible in the ratings. Aaron and Darren beg and get three more episodes. Darren is mad because the show is really great, he wishes there was some sort of divine intervention …
… which comes in the form of the Iraq invasion. I’m just reporting the facts, folks. The other big networks have suspended programming. Fox goes with counterprogramming — including 90210.
The cast is so hormonal they have to have a meeting to go over the FCC guidelines. The general rule is: “above the waist, off the breasts.” They all have a ton of fun with this. And, according to the directors, off set, “everyone’s making out with everyone.” (Not ashamed to tell you that I know this line came directly from Tori Spelling’s first book, sTORI Telling.)
We see Jennie with Jason, Luke with Shannen, Tori with Brian, Shannen with Jason, Jennie with Luke … I mean I think, it’s kinda hard to tell with everyone’s faces smooshed together.
Like this, see? It’s hard to tell!
It’s time for the season one finale, the winter dance, love it so hard — although why they don’t just call it the Spring Formal, I will never know. The suits show up to tell Darren they’re going to shoot 30 episodes a season, some of which will air in the summer. They want to turn the show into a global phenomenon. Yessss. Tori wants Donna to be funny and asks for a chance to just let the camera roll on her.
Shannen and Luke are shooting the virginity scene. They fight, Luke’s mad because Shannen was late and they couldn’t rehearse. Shannen’s all child actor, whatever, I know everything. Darren notes that she does memorize lines faster than anyone. They shoot the final scene and Darren and Aaron are psyched — they have a hit on their hands!
They clean up the lot as ratings go up.
OMG, remember when she wore her hair like this?
But Aaron gets a call in the middle of the night. The network wants to pull the plug. See, Brenda lost her virginity, enjoyed it — and doesn’t feel bad about it. Sponsors are dropping the show, parents are outraged. My how times have changed. OH WAIT.
The suits want Brenda to feel remorse and to stop sleeping with Dylan. I mean, have you seen Dylan? Aaron assures them they’re going to figure it out.
Shannen and Luke see the scripts for season two and are dubious, but Darren takes over Aaron’s job assuring them that this is what needs to be done.
Wait, what does the script say? Cindy finds my pregnancy test?
(The movie didn’t get into that, but I remember. Oh, I remember it all.)
The show keeps blowing up as the fans find the actors, who now have fancy trailers instead of dingy dressing rooms. The guys all hang out and get along well, but the girls are bickering. They fight over who gets to wear what color in the publicity photos.
It’s like this, but in real life.
The show is a mega hit, mobbed mall tours and all.
The boys try to figure out what to do with Jennie and Shannen fighting all the time. President Reagan comes by when they’re at lunch to say that he’s a fan. But then they get kicked out because their fans have mobbed the restaurant.
Shannen keeps showing up late and making everyone mad. She’s doing interviews and saying that she’s misunderstood. The suits are nervous, but Aaron understands, everyone loves to hate Shannen. This is the man who created Amanda Woodward, after all.
You cannot deny that the woman has charisma.
It’s season three! Shannen’s still late and picking fights with Jennie. They have a girl fight but the guys show up just in time to break it up.
Do not mess with Kelly Taylor. Do not.
Luke asks Aaron to work with Shannen as infrequently as possible. Gabrielle and Brian too.
Ian and Shannen go out in Steve’s Corvette at lunch. They make a Sharknado joke. Good job, Ian! Ian warns that Shannen is going to get fired, and no one’s going to hire her again, she’s out every night in the tabloids. She asks to drive the car, Ian says no. She fake cries, and Ian lets her drive. The get in an accident when Shannen runs into a construction zone. Ian takes the fall when the suits show up.
It’s 1992, and the cast is out at The Roxbury. Gabby goes home early because she’s an old lady, leaving Shannen and Jennie alone in the booth. They apologize. Shannen tries to explain, but Jennie’s just like, I want to be a good actress. They make up, for the time being.
Brian accidentally bumps into some dude at da club, and Shannen steps in to the rescue after the guy calls Brian “a loser from that high school show.” A brawl ensues. The cops come, give Shannen a felony misdemeanor ticket, and then the papparazzi arrives. Aaron gets woken up in the middle of the night again. Candy Spelling knows what’s up: “Shannen?” “Shannen.”
The suits want Shannen gone. Darren and Aaron stick up for her. She’s a great actress, the writers love her. Aaron wants her to stay. Smart man. #shannenforever (this was way before hash tags).
It’s season four and, once again, no one can find Shannen. The cast all agrees, they want her gone — except Tori. Shannen apologizes, tries to blame family stuff, but everyone’s ovah it. Shannen threatens Tori.
Shannen announces she’s leaving the show and Aaron publicly wishes her well.
It’s season five, and Saved by the Bell fan Darren casts Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who is dating Brian Austin Green. Then the movie just kinda … ends? With Jennie pleased to be the queen bee, as she takes over Shannen’s dressing room.
Some text tells us that 90210 ran for six more seasons, in addition to spinning off Melrose Place. Darren, of course, went on to give us Carrie Bradshaw.
Love you guys forever!
Did you guys watch? Did it bring back some fabulous memories? Do you need some more Lifetime movie recaps for your Monday? We’ve got you covered.