Beverly Hills 90210’s 11 Worst Storylines
Okay, ultimately Beverly Hills 90210 was a soap opera. A teen soap opera, but a soap opera nonetheless. In the very early going, though, the drama was pretty tame. But as the series went on and writers struggled to find ways to keep the drama fresh, things got crazier and crazier. Sometimes these crazy plotlines were so bad they were good. Sometimes they were just plain bad. Here are some of the plotlines that tried to straddle that line.
11. Emily Valentine Goes Insane
Emily Valentine was a character that was just begging to be liked, especially if you were looking for a female character a little less straight-edge than most of the students at West Beverly. When she arrived on the scene as school started in season two, she had rock and roll attitude and style in the midst of a decidedly Top 40s world. And, to be fair, she quickly showed that her edginess went beyond just her rebelliously messy hair and leather jacket. There were drugs and tire slashing and stalking episodes. It was kind of fun watching straight-edge Brandon figure out how to navigate life with a wild child. But then came that time she almost burned down a homecoming float and wound up in the loony bin. Why did she have to go insane? That seemed just a step too far into traditional soap opera territory. But it was only the first step too far for this show.
10. Brandon’s Racist Girlfriend
In the early years of the series, it was filled with “token” characters – characters who only existed to raise some sort of sociological issues. In some cases it was racism, in others it was steroid use or homophobia. During the season three summer episodes, we were introduced to our token racist, Brooke. She was a beach volleyball star who caught the eyes of both Steve and Brandon. Brandon’s blue-eyed charm won out and they dated for a while, over three episodes. But it was just so obvious that the only reason she was there was for Brandon to stand up to her racist ways, as she invoked offensive stereotype after offensive stereotype. Brandon’s last straw was when the object of the stereotyping was Andrea and her Judaism. And that was the end of Brandon and Token – er, Brooke.
9. That Whole Scott Thing
David’s friend Scott Scanlon never fit in. Not at West Beverly, and not with viewers. So, really, anything to do with Scott was a bad storyline. Then came the ads – the ominous promos on Fox teasing that a significant character was going to die in the next episode. Cue speculation. Who could it possibly be? How could they kill off a major character in the second season of a hit show? Well, as it turned out, they didn’t. They killed off Scott. It was like they decided his character just wasn’t working out, so let’s turn him into one of our infamous tokens. Scott became the token that represented the issue of gun control. Because, of course, Scott accidentally shot and killed himself – at his own birthday party no less – with a gun that was in his home. At least he went out with a valuable message for the kids at home.
8. That Whole Lucinda Thing
There’s no denying Lucinda Nicholson was beautiful and an intriguing character. But her whole lusting after Brandon thing during season four was kind of hard to believe. Sure, Brandon was charming and all, but was he so irresistible that this somewhat older woman, who could have had any man she wanted, would have tunnel vision for this teenager? So much so that she’d leave her husband? Granted, Lucinda probably wasn’t really the marrying kind, anyway, but still. This alluring woman just locked eyes with Brandon at the college gym and asked him out. Why? Maybe the whole problem was that it seemed more like something Brandon would fantasize about than something that would happen in “real life.”
7. Kelly Joins A Cult
For four seasons, Shannen Doherty’s mere presence as Brenda Walsh seemed to provide enough drama for the show, without having to go too crazy in the writers’ room. But after she left, a lot of the heavy lifting fell onto Kelly’s character, and the writers started hitting her with a constant barrage of bizarre plotlines. Joining a cult in season five was one of the earlier examples of this. And we’re not even including her being badly burned in a fire at a rave. It was that incident that led to her self-esteem issues. And that led to her joining The New Evolution cult, because why not? Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a money making scheme on the part of its leader, Professor Finley, and ultimately Kelly wised up and quit the cult.
6. Jack McKay Dying
From the beginning, we knew that Dylan was meant to be the troubled loner of the show. Soon enough, we started to learn why: with those parents he didn’t stand a chance. His mom was kind of a hippie free spirit who couldn’t commit herself to her son. But his dad? His dad, Jack, was a business man up to no good. He was a character straight out of an adult prime-time soap, like Dynasty or Dallas. Suddenly we found out all this craziness about him: Shady business practices put him in jail; he’d given Dylan’s mother money to stay out of Dylan’s life; he tried to steal money from Dylan; and just when everything seemed good again between father and son – mere minutes after they sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” together, for crying out loud – Jack was killed when a bomb exploded in his car.
5. Jack McKay Not Being Dead
What could be more ridiculous than the life – and death – of Jack McKay? How about him not being dead after all? Okay, they didn’t show him go into the car, they didn’t show him turning the ignition as the car was engulfed in flames. But it definitely looked like there was the silhouette of someone in the driver’s seat as fire and smoke streamed out the window. So who was in that car? Are we supposed to believe it was a mannequin or something? These are the questions that came to mind in season 10 when it’s revealed that Jack didn’t die in that bombing. Evidently he’d spent the last seven seasons in the witness protection program. Really?
4. Dylan’s Wife Dies
Hang on. Dylan had a wife? Yes, briefly. And she died, as you might’ve guessed by the headline. So not only did our poor sideburned rebel have to deal with his dad dying (but not really dying) in horrific fashion, but his wife, too. Only she wasn’t later revealed to be alive and in the witness protection program. Here’s the absurdity of this particular storyline, on top of it just being silly and melodramatic. Dylan’s wife, Toni, was the daughter of the man who “killed” (but not really) his dear old dad. It would seem that no matter how much a girl looked like Rebecca Gayheart, if her dad murdered our dad, we could live without staring into her baby blues. But not our Dylan. He couldn’t resist. Then her dad hired a dude to kill Dylan. But guess what? The bullet hit the lovely Toni and that was the end of her.
3. “Let’s spin off a show about a corny rock band”
Oh, The Heights. What was worse, The Heights or The Heights – the TV show or the band? Let’s just say both were equally ill-advised. And it all started on Beverly Hills 90210, when in season five, producers decided to introduce musician/construction worker Ray Pruit and spin him off into a show about his band. He was a little annoying on his own. He’d show signs of being a good guy, but then he’d get all cranky and mopey and he cheated on Donna and even went and pushed the poor girl down a stairway. And that wasn’t the only violent incident. Not cool, Ray. Somehow this “awesome” guy got his own show, which lasted all of 13 episodes. But this whole annoying plotline had one lasting legacy: a song that reached number one on the Billboard charts. Everybody now: “How do you talk to an angel?”
2. The Melrose Place Transition
Of course, The Heights wasn’t the only show to spin off from Beverly Hills 90210. And it’s rare that these spin-off transitions aren’t awkward. Case in point: suddenly there was an alien on Happy Days and then we got Mork & Mindy. On 90210, the alien came in the form of a 50-year-old man dating Kelly. Okay, okay, Jake Hanson wasn’t 50. But he sure looked 30 and he was dating a high-school girl. The whole thing just felt kind of creepy. But for all those kids addicted to 90210, they were forced to keep their TVs tuned to Fox to watch how that relationship played out on Melrose Place. It was a dirty trick. But it worked. Melrose became a pop-culture phenomenon and a wildly entertaining, often absurd show in its own right.
1. Kelly Gets Shot
Kelly’s absurd storylines didn’t end with getting burned and joining a cult, of course. Really, it’s not even so much that any one crazy thing happened to her, it was just the relentless barrage of crazy things during the second half of the series’ run that made it all seem that much crazier. Now picture it: it’s the season eight premiere and the gang is in Hawaii, so at this point it’s almost surprising that they didn’t find a cursed tiki idol, a la The Brady Bunch. No, Kelly had her own curse: The Curse of the Absurd Storyline. So she flew out to Hawaii and hung out with her friends, then on their way to the airport some random thugs came along and shot Kelly in the gut for absolutely no reason. Like, literally none. And then somehow she suffered from amnesia, despite the fact that her head was uninjured in the incident. Go figure.