Brenda Walsh's Lessons on Regional Differences


Two episodes into its run, Oxygen program Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty has already proven itself useful in the fight against regional stereotypes within this country. The couple on hand were there to help our fearless hostess spread her doctrine of harmony and understanding. She's a former beauty queen, a successful TV host and genteel southern belle just starting to make it L.A.–beautiful and nice and well-spoken.

He's… not. In fact, we're not told what he does, and were left to define him entirely by his obnoxious, belittling persona.

Cue Shannen Doherty.

The dumper described herself as a non-confrontational person who's not good at making decisions. She'd been pushed around a lot since she left home, and chalked this up to the way she was raised in the South. In came Shannen, pointing out that she’s from the South, and in fact not everyone in the South was like that! Point for breaking down misconceptions!

Later in the segment, after the viewers had been made to watch the dumpee mock his girlfriend in public for several minutes (and ask Doherty if she happened to be ovulating), it was time for another heart to heart between dumper and host. Our southern belle thought that her relationship was all part of the L.A. experience–and her boyfriend's arrogant dismissals of her ideas and actions stemmed from his quirky upbringing as a typical New Yorker.

Cut to Ms. Doherty pulling an incredulous face. The breakup was on!

So there you have it. With two emphatically-delivered sentences and a well-timed smirk, Shannen Doherty had succeeded in enlightening her audience: Being Southern is not an excuse for acting like a doormat, being from New York is not an excuse for bad behavior, and if you can't handle your own breakup, make Shannen Doherty part of your L.A. experience, because she's just the spunky southern belle to do it for you.

By Guest Blogger Liz McKeon