By Ben Grossman -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/7/2008 8:00:00 PM
I hated The CW's remake of 90210. Not the show itself so much as the fact that it made me realize I am just old.
I am barely clinging to the male 18-34 demo for dear life these days, and one look at my hairline and waistline will tell you that the fight's not going so well. Watching last week's two-hour breakout premiere of 90210 on The CW didn't help.
From being completely appalled by the racy content of the show, to feeling sad that a non-airbrushed Shannen Doherty has aged even worse that I have, it was a tough night.
There I was last Tuesday, ready for a walk down memory lane on the light and airy CW. I sat down with the wife, revved up the TiVo and waited for some familiar faces from my past.
Four minutes into the show, this waif-looking young girl who seemed desperately in need of a sandwich was instead eagerly searching a parking lot for a former crush. With the hot sun shining down and music swirling in the background, she spotted him in his car…getting oral sex from another teenager.
At 8:04 p.m. On a network that targets young viewers.
The wife and I, agreeing on something for the first time since the Clinton administration, looked at each other appalled.
All I could think was what a desperate and pathetic attempt this was by a flailing network to be edgy and relevant. And while that was the worst moment of the 90210 premiere, there were plenty more times I cringed.
There was the time early on where a girl—while sitting in class—told a boy to “clean his vagina.” Now, I would have been tossed out of class at the very least back in the day for saying something like that; on 90210, the teacher kind of ho-hummed it.
Then again, the teacher will probably end up sleeping with her in an upcoming episode for all I know, so I'm not sure what I am so concerned about right now.
Then there was the drinking. Apparently these days, 15-year-old kids hang out and drink in bars like it's no big deal. I'm going to love being a parent of teenagers. Back on the original 90210, drinking was actually an issue, not an afterthought. Anyone who grew up with the show remembers Tori Spelling's character being threatened with having to stay another year in high school after getting busted drinking and having the whole school rally behind her.
Heck, I still find myself yelling out “Donna Martin Graduates!” once in a while for no particular reason.
So with all the sex, language and other stuff that I definitely want my kids watching at 8 p.m. on the broadcast network that wants to be young and hip, I figured there would be an outpouring of disgust. I also figured there would be huge ratings.
I was half-right.
I called up The CW and a spokesperson told me they got exactly two complaints from stations, and zero from fans. And reading through reviews of the show, there were very few mentions of the racy content.
I have no idea if the FCC or anyone else was taken aback, but the bottom line is apparently that's just where we are as a society, or at least as television viewers.
The ratings for the show were the best The CW has ever done. So even if there were complaints, the network would have smartly slapped them onto billboards like they did with the clever Gossip Girl campaign that helped that show return to strong numbers.
Of course, I am leaving out the most offensive thing in the whole show: that they changed the home state of the Beverly Hills transplants from Minnesota to Kansas. That's just lame. And apparently—judging by my reaction to 90210 when no one else seemed to care—I know lame.
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