It was the early 1990s, and a new show on the block for teen girls began airing on Fox on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. with the above the opening exchange of the Minnesota Twins, Brenda and Brandon, bemoaning in the pilot episode how their new home in Beverly Hills was definitely more upscale than their house back in Minnesota.
For those who are similar in age to me, I am indeed talking about the classic 1990s teen drama from the likes of Aaron Spelling and Darren Star, Beverly Hills, 90210.
Back then, I began watching pretty much from that first episode and truly wished I could have been any one of the starring actresses on this show.
But then again, what teen girl didn’t?
Being a wealthy teen living in the famous zip code, alongside hotties Luke Perry and Jason Priestly, was enough to sweeten the deal for anyone, including me.
Most girls wanted to emulate either the sweet, virginal Minnesota twin Brenda Walsh, played by Shannen Doherty of Our House fame, or the rich, stuck-up bitch and a-bit-too-loose Kelly Taylor, who was portrayed by actress Jennie Garth.
Once again, I was most certainly one of these teen girls myself back then.
I readily admit I wished to look like Kelly, because she was the epitome of the Beach Boys' California Girl with her long straight blond hair, blue eyes and perfect bikini body. She pretty much got anything she wanted — and then some — including being elected Spring Queen.
Still, I happened to relate more to Brenda, who was the nice girl from next door or the underdog. It didn’t hurt that I was a brunette with a similar hairstyle to hers. Initially, you could say I was pretty much Team Brenda.
I viewed each week that first season rooting for Brenda and bad boy Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry, to finally get together.
When they did, it was definitely worth the wait.
As the show progressed over the next few seasons, I began to slowly change my mind about being Team Brenda. Her character evolved, and the actress playing her was outed publicly for her true-life party-girl lifestyle and nasty antics off-camera.
Brenda became more of rebellious character, not unlike her portrayer, by disobeying her parents to sneak down to Mexico with Dylan and even run away from home to live with Dylan. During the fateful Parisian trip that she was sent on by her parents as a peace offering was when I truly changed my viewpoint, joining the “I Hate Brenda Camp." I switched my allegiance to Team Kelly, now siding more with her — and even rooting her on to steal Dylan away from Brenda.
Kelly was coming into her own at this point in the show. proving she was indeed more than a one-dimensional, California girl. She was no longer the troublemaker, but a real girl with feelings and even more of a heart than the once-beloved Brenda.
The roles basically reversed, and we saw a more toned-down, redeemed and even humble Kelly, who tried her best to not lead Dylan on and even pushed him away at first.
Eventually, she did give into temptation. Teen girl viewers were treated to the slow demise of Brenda and Dylan's union, all while Kelly and Dylan’s relationship began to slowly grow. It might have been a bit rocky at first, but still very much real and worth now supporting.
Brenda tried her best to hold onto Dylan, with her infamous catfight line directed viciously at Kelly: “I was always taught that if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck.”
But it wasn’t enough, and eventually Dylan chose Kelly, because as he put it, “You both told me to choose and I choose you.”
As Dylan chose Kelly, so too did the audience — myself included. The final nail in Brenda's coffin, for me, was when she angrily told both Kelly and Dylan, “Never speak to me again!”
Don’t get me wrong, the show went on for another seven seasons, with Shannen Doherty eventually leaving, Kelly and Dylan breaking up and Tiffani Thiessen, Vanessa Marcil and many others joining the infamous zip code.
I continued to view religiously — all the while rooting for Team Kelly. Mind you, this was before I could DVR and watch at my leisure. The show had some more great Kelly moments and some cringe-worthly ones that even I would love to forget, such as “I choose me!”
But in the end, Team Kelly prevailed, having Kelly and Dylan finally find their way back to one another in the series finale over 15 years ago!
To this day, I definitely still have a soft spot for Team Kelly, I still hate Brenda and still love Beverly Hills, 90210, because it truly was a show that shaped TV for me in my formative teen years over 25 years ago.
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