I started watching this beautiful Shakespearean mess from the beginning as an alternative to watching the news right now, because awful. Judge away, Judies, but I know you’re still JEL.
Synopsis: Brandon meets and befriends surfer Dylan McKay, a mysterious loner who lives in a fancy hotel suite and hangs out at the beach with his surfer friends that include teenage alcoholic Betty. Meanwhile, Brenda feels she’s living in poverty when she gets to know Kelly, and her insecure friend Donna Martin. Steve tries to hang out with David after mistakenly thinking that David’s father is a wealthy TV show producer. Also, Andrea asks Brandon to write an article about being new in Beverly Hills.
Firstly, can we please just acknowledge that I DIED over the description of Donna in the official synopsis, even though it should have read “desperate, low self-esteem friend, Donna Martin.” Despite being from Wisconsin or whatever (during the entire intro I was trying to work out why they didn’t have more Wisconsonny accents), new Beverly Hills transplant Brandon Walsh is surfing the hell out of that ocean, and he encounters a beachy Barbie who looks possibly 35, but hey, a boy can dream, right? Brrrrriiiing! Alarm clock, dream sequence denied, and sis Brenda says they have to be at school in FIFTEEN MINUTES.
I’m fairly certain she must be setting the clock forward because that doesn’t give them a whole lot of time for personal hygiene or travel, unless West Beverly is like, across the street (in which case, why are they always getting rides home?) This episode has a weird bit of role reversal where good-girl Brenda is badgering bad-boy Brandon to do things like get to school on time or do his homework. Also I think they might’ve been trying to play Brandon as some kind of Ferris Bueller for eight seconds, because he has some kind of odd Godzilla toy attached to one of those grabby grabby tools (you know the ones) that seems to have been rigged up to make sure he’s awake. Goddammit-Zilla, more like.
Then comes a showstopper – suddenly we’re in the snow, watching the postman approach a middle-class home with the Walsh’s post. Then music happens as there’s a PLEASE FORWARD TO THE WALSH RESIDENCE AT 123 PEACHTREE LANE or whatever appears in Comic Sans, and the bottom of the address transforms into the 90210 logo we’re familiar with (in hypercolour blue, obviously). I’m like whaaaaat at the Perfect Strangers-ness of this intro that goes on FOREVER to the strains of “random 80’s film BIG CITY GUITAR MONTAGE,” with so much big city montage it’s like are you for real, but I’m obviously living for it and want to call everyone to remind them this exists. The intro ends with the Californian postman delivering the letter into the rather upscale letterbox with WALSH basically etched in marble so we know they’re coming up in the world.
Again, they’ve made my head spin with wtf bc brunette Elizabeth Wakefield Brenda is yelling HEY KELLY, WAIT UP as soon as they get to school, which is really odd because how did she become part of the chicest clique in one second? Brandon heads into the office of the West Beverly Blaze (really?) and your brain is confused by Andrea Zuckerman’s art teacher getup, because she’s actually the student editor of the Blaze. She immediately busts Brandon’s chops because he should be writing editorials and not covering the sports section – like since when was high school student journalism this intense, it’s an elective, Chief, chill. Brandon gets bullied into writing about what it’s like to enter the Matrix aka West Bev.
Ill-fated geek-of-the-week Scott Scanlon (who basically does nothing except plot ways to get into the cool crowd with typically overeager social outcast David Silver) has a breakout moment, facilitating the intro of Brandon and Dylan McKay. While working on some random science nerd thing, Scott is interrupted by some jerky jocks who are being jerks, and the biggest surprise is that Saint Brandon doesn’t know what to do. In steps Dylan who’s serving the windbreaker equivalent of Rebel Without a Cause, and threatens the bullies (not entirely sure why that worked, but I guess he does have that ‘reputation’). Brandon’s bromance is fully completely switched on, while the two banter about the origins of the name ‘Walsh,’ (really.)
Dylan invites Brandon to kick it at the beach, surf city style, and Brandon embarrassingly gets all misty about having seen this place in his dream. Dylan answers for everyone by saying “yeah it’s everyone’s dream, duh,” which is kind of awesome. They meet three surfers and one is (gasp) a girl. They’re so background charactery trying to be breakout stars it’s actually working and their whole dialogue is like Spicoli’d to the max. Obviously the chick (Sarah, if you care-ah) falls in love with Brandon in like one second, and tells him all about this Green Room which is some surfer terminology (I guess).
That night Brandon blows off hanging with mom Cindy and sis Brenda to follow Dylan around like a puppy, and actually LIES about going to the library to work on his homework. Cindy (who is on the phone with Jim for almost the entire episode, leading me to believe James Eckhouse was negotiating for some serious dolla dolla bills because they just keep saying “oops dad had to go, BYEEEE”) had made some kind of home-cooked wholesome feast but no one cares. Sad trombone noise.
Brandon shows no qualms about jumping into Dylan’s car – like, surely you’d be using a more conventional method, like the door, considering you’ve just met this person, but Dylan doesn’t seem to mind because he’s cool and rich and a secret poet. They meet up with the surfers who say Betty (aka Sarah) can’t go in the other car because she belongs to them or something and it’s totally basic bro showdown. They head over to this hotel and Dylan pretends to be sneaking into a suite, and starts ordering cheeseburgers for everyone until Brandon has a moral hissy fit and storms out. Dylan chases after him and they have their first fight, and Brandon realises Dylan lives at the hotel. Instead of being cool with it, he cruelly says “you have nothing real in your life” or something equally cutting – this episode is completely insane like Twilight Zone Brandon, I’m serious.
Everyone goes to the beach on Saturday and it’s freezing, but Kelly has to wear her new outfit. Donna Martin gives her some sensible advice (barf) on how she should wear a sweater and Kelly is like “why would I cover up this fabulous outfit with a stupid sweater, idiot?” Brandon breaks away to go meet up with boyfriend Dylan who’s just leaving, and runs into the surfers, who have been (gasp) drinking, and he – like every American teenager – is rightly horrified. He pointedly tells surfer Sarah that he liked her when she was SOBER, and stomps off. At the same time, Kelly decides the beach sucks so when Brenda goes to find Brandon because “he doesn’t know anybody,” she leaves them there, cementing her status as a total legend. Just as the Walsh kids notice they’ve been stranded, Brandon sees something in the water – OMG IT’S DRUNK SURFER SARAH and she’s not breathing. Brenda calls 911, they all go to the hospital and it turns out they’re heroes and also Surfer Sarah is a teen alcoholic. Cindy shows up and pretends it’s all cool then kind of frazzled-mom loses it and they do that hug from the normal 90210 intro.
Next thing you know, Brandon turns up at the beach at 6 am to confront the surfer dudes and calls them scumbags/gets physical, but Dylan breaks it up. Dylan and Brandon hug it out I guess, and somewhere in there Brandon found the time to write his editorial which is all about bragging his newfound love of surfer terminology aka the Green Room and is utterly sentimental garbage. Brenda reads it and says it’s “beautiful,” in a really creepy way. West Beverly’s DJ announces Brandon being a hero before breaking into Monday Monday (as if, even). Surfer Sarah got out of the hospital and stalkerishly shows up on campus to be like “oh hi, I’m going into a 12-step program,” of course. Brandon tells her to look up the name WALSH in the book (yes, really), and she responds that since everyone else is unlisted (zing) it won’t be too hard to find him. I’m pretty sure they never speak again.
Brenda goes shopping with Kelly, who graciously offers style advice, which Brenda makes a point of rejecting because these really gross jeans are $150. Kelly is like meh, that’s boring, continues calling everything in the shop disgusting and proceeds to spend a billion dollars, flashing her 50 credit cards while Brenda looks on in envy. Brenda later goes home to sew knockoff versions at 100% off while Cindy is like “my wholesome kids are the best.” After the beach incident, Brenda refuses Kelly’s calls (in what universe?) and Saint Brandon who’s on this personal growth thing says she should try to work it out with Kelly because she’s never had anyone be nice to her or something.
Steve Sanders and Kelly Marlene Taylor (shut up, yes her middle name is Marlene) used to date, and he’s always popping up to be annoying, which is totally gross and embarrassing. We find out that Steve’s mum is on some TV show and practically the only time he can see her is when it’s on air. She wants Steve to be nice to some director’s kid, something Silver. To get his mother’s attention, Steve has to be nice to David, but later finds out he’s being nice to the wrong geek and drops David like a hot potato. Classic Steve!!
- Cindy is not feeling this newfangled Beverley Hills lifestyle and moans about the price of exotic fruits, after an epic exchange with Brenda about the number of calories in a slice of kiwi.
- Brandon wants to know if Dylan’s cool surfer friends would still like him if he knew he had the complete works of fucking BYRON in his convertible. I actually died.
- When David and Scott encounter Steve at the beach, after Steve’s mum has asked him to be extra special nice, David is wearing a pretty sweet New Order T-shirt, but I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be niche or actually cool.