**** Warning contains Spoilers****
Fancy a trip down memory lane or a bit of juicy gossip? TV’s latest serving of teen drama takes us back to those stressful and exciting days at school when everything revolved around fast cars, designer clothes and boys. No I’m not talking about my school days but those students at West Beverly Hills High School and Constance Billard School for Girls.
The iconic ’90s drama Beverly Hills 90210 has returned revamped and rivaling the all new hit series Gossip Girl with new edgy contemporary plots and a whole bunch of new characters to get to know, with a few familiar faces from the first original series thrown in.
Much like the original, the new 90210 spin off looks at life through the eyes of Annie Wilson (Shenae Grimes) and her adopted brother Dixon (Tristan Wilds) whose first day at West Beverly Hills High School leaves them feeling uneasy and awkward, with no doubt they’re not in Kansas anymore. The Wilson family, including dad Harry (Rob Estes) and mom Debbie (Lori Loughlin), decide to relocate to Beverly Hills to keep an eye on Harry’s mother Tabitha (Jessica Walter), a feisty former television star. For Annie and Dixon, the awkwardness of being the new kids is made worse by the fact that their dad has taken a job as the high school principal. The school is a big culture shock for Annie, a sweet and friendly girl with a passion for the theatre, and Dixon, a star athlete and scholar. Annie and Dixon have a close sibling relationship, which they’ll need to help them cope with all the new cliques and classmates, including Naomi (AnnaLynne McCord), a typical hot, spoilt, rich girl; Ethan (Dustin Milligan), a popular jock whose abilities will rival Dixon’s; Navid (Michael Steger), an aspiring journalist who heads up the school’s daily newscast; Silver (Jessica Stroup), a rebel who produces and stars in a YouTube-type video series and Adrianna one of the most troubled teens in the series, who feels the pressure from her mother to pursue and succeed at her acting.
Meanwhile Gossip Girl a sleek, glossy, musically enhanced soap opera is a breath of fresh air revolving around wealthy, gorgeous, privileged Manhattan prep school students. The show provides an interesting glimpse of Upper East Side NY and Brooklyn with up scale fashion and trendsetting style.
Based on the best-selling series of young-adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, Gossip Girl is a drama narrated by the omniscient yet unseen blogger “Gossip Girl,” and centers on the lives of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively); Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester); Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford); Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), an overly confident and sexy bad boy, Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen), an aspiring fashion designer who desires to be accepted in to the world of the wealthy and Dan Humphrey (Penn Dayton Badgley).
The first series saw the unexpected return of Serena to New York from her mysterious absence to a boarding school. Initially unwelcomed by her former best friend Blair after discovering that she slept with her longtime boyfriend Nate a year ago, but after the realization that Eric van der Woodsen had attempted suicide and was receiving treatment, she decides to mend their friendship.
Throughout the year, Serena and Dan’s relationship is continually tested by the elite class and the return of his best friend Vanessa Abrams.
While Blair tries to mend her relationship with her boyfriend Chuck continues to try and seduce her and develops feelings for her that prevents her from reviving her relationship with Nate. Jenny continues desperately to become part of the elite class circle performing menial tasks.
The lives of Annie and Dixon are a far cry from the turbulent teenage existence that Blair and Serena experience, in fact it’s pretty tame in comparison.
It’s disappointing to say that even with so much talent 90210 squanders too much on predictable plots and clichés and lacks a certain spark that the original series had. It is nothing compared to the shocking-risqué that is Gossip Girl which is already on its second series and is heating up big style with exciting new characters and storylines full of drama, betrayal, rejection, love, sex, lust and jealousy.
While the characters aren’t as immediately lovable as 90210’s Annie and Dixon there is however enough designer intrigue and relationship angst to keep you hooked.
Catch 90210 Mondays at 9pm on E4 and Gossip Girl Wednesdays at 9pm on ITV2.
By Joanne Rudd