7 Life Lessons From Beverly Hills, 90210

3 years ago

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I am an unabashed fan of Beverly Hills, 90210. I’ve seen EVERY EPISODE. TWICE. {Okay, more like five times.} I graduated from high school the same year as Donna Martin, though with far less drama. I currently teach in the very community Brenda once claimed the Walshes lived in before leaving the Minnesota prairie for Beverly Hills glitter. Though I’ve never surfed, or operated a nightclub in the back room of a fifties-style diner, or protested a school board decision, I’ve always felt a special connection to the gang from West Beverly.

As my grownup self watches reruns of the show that guided me through the formative years of high school, college, and early adulthood, I am often surprised by the deep, Zen-like wisdom hidden beneath the surface of the Peach Pit, California University, and Casa Walsh.

Today I am sharing with you the life lessons we can learn from Beverly Hills, 90210.

1. We can do hard things.

This is one of my favorite lines from Glennon Doyle Melton’s The Momastery. We all have problems, even, as MADtv referred to them in their parody of the show, “pretty white kids.” A colleague of mine, and fellow 90210 aficionado, insists that the life of Kelly Taylor alone is a testament to the endurance of the human spirit. Throughout the show, we witness Ms. Taylor struggle with her addicted mother and absent father, deal with depression and an eating disorder, join and get rescued from a cult, get shot in the head, become addicted to cocaine and then be stalked by her rehab roommate, suffer facial burns in a house fire, get sexually harassed at work, and experience an early miscarriage. All while dealing with a world that won’t take her seriously because she’s so pretty. Yet she manages to run her own business, and eventually become, of course, a high school guidance counselor.

We can’t avoid suffering, but we can do hard things.

2. Appearances can be deceiving.

When good Midwestern boy Brandon Walsh meets rebel-with-a-cause Dylan McKay, he’s confused. Since the Walshes have moved from Minnesota {which, according to the show, had just entered the Iron Age in the early 1990s} to the civilized world of Beverly Hills, the Neolithic transplants experience a bit of culture shock. These kids surf! They drink! They cut classes! Will we ever run with the in-crowd?

Well, Brandon soon learns that surfer-dude Dylan reads The Collected Works of Lord Byron! Brandon writes an editorial for the school newspaper, opining that the Beverly Hills cool kids have taught him to look behind their façades. Just as the surfers long to get inside the curl of the perfect wave, he longs to find the table in the lunchroom where people look for more than meets the eye. And while I am certain it is completely sacrilegious to compare the teachings of the Buddha to the writings of the West Beverly Blaze, he also told us to break our attachments to false views of the self.

3. Moms always have great wisdom.

Whether they are models of perfect mothering, like Cindy Walsh, or recovering cocaine addicts like Jackie Taylor, our moms always know how to counsel us. The grownups of Beverly Hills, 90210 are not always relegated to the wah-wah-wah-wah-wah gibberish of the adults from The Peanuts. My favorite piece of parental advice from the show comes from Jackie Taylor, counseling Kelly through the drama of the Brenda-Kelly-Dylan love triangle. She tells her forlorn daughter, “This too shall pass.” It’s the wisdom my mom frequently shares with me. It’s one of my favorite mantras.

4. You can choose YOU.

I am a Kelly-Brandon partisan. But I admit that one of my all-time favorite moments from 90210 is when Kelly, having been offered an engagement ring from Brandon and a trip around the world from Dylan, informs the gentlemen that she won’t be choosing either of them. She chooses herself. Twenty years before Frozen taught us that true love didn’t necessarily mean having a man, Kelly Taylor was already blazing the trail.

5. All conditioned things are impermanent.

One need only revisit the fashion trends at West Beverly High to comprehend the constant change and flux of the world in which we live. {Check out this photo montage here.} Leggings, scrunchies, big blazers, faded jeans, biker shorts, high-rise bangs, side burns, babydoll dresses, and girls wearing ties. Sometimes the impermanence of life pains us, and other times, it’s a huge relief.

6. The west CAN embrace the east.

Attempting to do an at-home yoga video, Kelly tells Donna, “I’m too western to be this eastern.” But the video was from Donna’s mother. Felice Martin – the uptight, moralistic, makes coffee nervous, dress-code demanding, cohabitation opposing icon of rigidity – does yoga. ‘nuff said.

7. You gotta show up to the dance.

Brandon hates dancing, but goes to the dances anyway. Andrea stays home from the Spring Dance, shunning anything conventional, but then decides to join the gang after all, telling them that she doesn’t want to look back and realize she’s missed high school. While we can debate the merits of missing out on high school, we certainly don’t want to miss out on our lives.

We gotta show up and dance.

And also make time for 90210 reruns. Because there’s a lot more there than meets the eye!

{Image Credit: Wikipedia}

Sarah Rudell Beach

Left Brain Buddha

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