Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story: Shannen Doherty's Ousting and 12 Other Semi-Accurate Revelations

The latest installment in Lifetime’s series of small-screen exposés, The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story sought to pull back the curtain on one of the most iconic shows in television history. But did it deliver?

For the most part, sure. The film spanned the first few seasons of Aaron Spelling’s primetime soap, from its rocky inception to the tumultuous departure of its leading lady Shannen Doherty, wrapping with the arrival of Tiffani Amber-Thiessen — a solid nod to Lifetime’s 2014 Saved by the Bell movie. And, honestly, I can’t say I would have framed it any differently. (No offense to the college years and beyond, but I only came for the Doherty drama.)

This being an “unauthorized” retelling of the show’s history, its narrative is meant to be taken with a grain of salt. So keep that in mind as you go down our list of the film’s most fascinating reveals:

90210-story-011. You can basically thank Tori Spelling for everything. Not only did she tell her dad that he needs to produce more teen-oriented shows, but she also landed Jason Priestley and Doherty their respective leading roles.

2. Priestley was living with Brad Pitt when 90210 came about.

3. When Spelling first auditioned, she lied about her last name, going by “Tori Mitchell.” (No one was fooled.)

4. They shot the pilot — and possibly the rest of the series — next to a porn studio.

5. The network didn’t initially want Luke Perry on the show, so Aaron Spelling voluntarily paid for him out of pocket.

6. The show wasn’t a bonafide hit until the summer after its premiere; while the other major networks were exclusively airing wartime coverage, 90210 cranked out new episodes.

7. The only reason Brenda and Dylan broke up is because advertisers threatened to pull out after Brenda “celebrated” losing her virginity; they thought she should have shown remorse.

8. President Reagan was apparently a big ol’ fan of the show.

9. Everyone. Hooked. Up. With. Everyone.

10. Ian Ziering is a psychic wizard who predicted the Sharknado franchise 23 years before its inception… then immediately got into a car accident. (Probably should have taken that as a sign, huh?)

Then came the events that lead to Doherty’s downfall…

11. Doherty nearly came to blows with Jennie Garth after a particularly confrontational moment on set. (Doherty later apologized during a group outing to the Roxbury… before getting into a physical altercation with another club-goer.)

12. As Doherty became increasingly difficult to work with, each cast member went to Spelling, requesting less scenes with her.

13. Doherty’s co-stars eventually met Survivor-style to vote her off the show.

So… Which “truth” bombs did you find most fascinating? What did you think of the movie as a whole? And can we all agree that Lifetime needs to produce an unauthorized look at Charmed, with Samantha Munro and Dan Castellaneta reprising the roles of Doherty and Spelling? I mean, come on

Shannen Doherty 90210

(Also, “She played a witch?” Amazing.) Grade the movie below, then drop a comment with your full review.


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62 Comments
  1. Tori Coop says:

    Strangely, I actually liked this quite a bit and found most of it believable. And definitely much much better than the Saved by the Bell disaster.

    • GUSTAVO ALCALA says:

      SHANNEN DOHERTY RULES!!!!!!! SHANNEN LAUNCHED 90210 AND CHARMED,BOTH WENT DOWNHILL MINUS SHANNEN!!!!!! SHANNEN IS A LEGENDARY BAMF!!!!!!!!!!

      • GUSTAVO ALCALA says:

        RUMOR HAD IT BACK IN 90S , WHEN SHANNEN DOHERTY MARRIED ASHLEY HAMILTON, HE HOOKED SHANNEN ON COCAINE . THEN SHANNEN INTRODUCED TORI SPELLING TO NICK SAVALAS, KOJAKS STEP SON. AND SAVALAS BEAT ON TORI !!!!!!! AARON SPELLING WAS FURIOUS AT SHANNEN FOR HER ALLEGED COCAINE ADDICTION AND NICK SAVALAS ABUSING TORI , AND AARON FIRED SHANNEN FROM 90210 !!!!!!!!! SPELLING WAS SO POWERFUL IN HOLLYWOOD HE BLACKLISTED NICK SAVALAS, WHO NEVER WORKED AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. bryce says:

    Lame that we can’t see poll results anymore…

  3. KSM says:

    That was so much better than the parts of the other two that I have seen. I could be biased, as I love 90210, but I was impressed. And the casting was ridiculous!

  4. TAB says:

    I really hope they never do a Charmed movie. Some things should just be left alone.

  5. Larry says:

    To this day I still can’t stand Shannon. She was disrespectful to her other cast members and Aaron Spelling in showing up late, and acting like a Diva. To this day, I’m not sure she has learned her lesson.

    • Eran says:

      That’s nice. Now tell us how you feel about Shannen…

    • Clandestine Green says:

      The problem is that you are assuming that what you read in the tabloids is true. Shannen was a hellion in the early days. On Charmed, Alyssa Milano was at least equally to blame…she pushed hard to get Shannen fired from charmed and the CW thought that Alyssa was more important to the show than Shannen. Alyssa has nearly as bad a reputation as Shannen…Alyssa was also fired from Mistresses but the producers allowed her say that she quit.

      • brandydanforth81 says:

        Alyssa left/quit Mistressess-she chose not to move her family to Canada for filming

        • Tammy says:

          I said for year that the reason 90210 took off was the war. I would have never watched the show if it wasn’t for the fact the other networks were showing war coverage every night.

      • GraceM says:

        She wasn’t fired from Mistresses. The show moved to Vancouver andcshe didn’t want to go because it’s too far from her kids who too young, in her opinion, to be separated from her for such long periods.

      • Dennis says:

        The WB* ;)

  6. Ed says:

    The entire movie was nothing more than a Shannen Doherty hate fest. Funny how ‘Tori’ was the only ‘nice’ one of the bunch. Tori admitted tonight that the red dress debacle was between her and Jennie. But I guess they needed to make the movie more interesting…enter Shannen.

    • anonymous says:

      But, look, it wasn’t just from BH, 90210 that Shannen was fired. She was fired from 2 ( two ) Spelling hits, the other being Charmed. Spelling gave her a 2d chance. She just wouldn’t learn from her mistakes.

      • GraceM says:

        Exactly!!

      • Yeah… no. Shannen wanted to quit Charmed when a new producer took over – prompting the show creater to leave, by the way – and start producing sh*tty oversexualized episodes centered around Phoebe, without any continuity whatsoever. They refuse to let her out of her contract and agreed to make some changes… then write her out off the show when she was vacationing.

        As for 90210, Garth herself has admit they both were to blame. Shannen currently maintains a good friendship with her and Ian (Steve) – as well as the actress who played Piper and everyone else who was in Charmed but Alyssa. Rose, Drew Fuller and a bunch of other actors went on record after the show finale affirming Milano was the primadonna, not Shannen.

        • Sammy says:

          I found this comment most interesting. I suspect that SD was difficult to work with on 90210, but considering that it was mainly a large cast of mostly teenagers sooner or later there is going to be a dog pile on the rabbit. Putting aside the off camera antics, SD appeared to hit her mark on screen. That I believe was even stated.

          As for Charmed, in my opinion no matter how messy things were between SD and AM, I never saw that come to light on the show concerning SD. If things were as nasty between the two of them SD still played the loving older sister where as AM started out as the young self-centered irresponsible baby and grew up to be a scene controlling, semi-naked diva. Most of the times I had to wonder if she was acting.

        • anonymous says:

          @ Sabrina : there are plenty of pieces of independent evidence demonstrating her ‘ difficult moods ‘ during the 1990s which are not related to her studio work, eg, her destroying some-one’s windscreen with a beer bottle, for which a court held her responsible ; the garnishment of her salary for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debts left from circa 1991 ; &, in particular, I recall that a motel / hotel owner was seeking restitution for alleged vandalism costing thousands of dollars allegedly performed by SD on a motel / hotel room — I don’t know if that matter went to court or was settled privately. Motel / hotel owners seem to me to be pretty reliable sources, not publicity seekers. These were matters which I read in regular newspapers –not personality papers / magazines. These were AP & Reuters news-wire articles. These are documented incidents. There were many more.

          I didn’t follow Charmed closely after about the middle of the 2d series / season : there were, for me, too many politically-correct stories about an evil-male-villain threatening one individual girl-witch which were resolved by having the threatened witch run to the other witches for the ‘ power of 3 ‘ to win — not my cup of tea. Maybe you are correct about the Charmed situation, but, given SD’s history, do you see why most of us are cynical ?

          Anyway, I’m a Kelly Taylor / Jennie Garth fan for life.

  7. BJES says:

    I also liked the Glee reference when they were talking about Garth and Hull High-a high school
    Musical format probably won’t fly :)

    I thought it was fun!

    • matty says:

      Nope, not a reference to GLEE, Hull High was an actual show from 1990.

    • Avery says:

      I thought it was just a sly reference to GLEE too but according to IMDB, it was an actual show that aired in the fall of 1990

      • AJ says:

        While the show they were referring to was real, I felt the reference to glee was how they kept saying a TV musical set in high school wouldn’t fly. Obviously many years later a musical TV show set in high school would fly and thrive (for a while anyway).

  8. Grace M says:

    Aaron Spelling give Shannen a second chance with Charmed and she still blew it. Notice how she hasn’t done any regular TV work since, except a brief appearance on the 90120 spin-off for a couple of episodes?

    Maybe she should think about that…

  9. Lady j says:

    We def need a charmed story!!! I was thinking that the whole time I was watching the 90210 story! I also would love to hear how Shannon dealt with Tiffany amber -thiesan basically replacing her.

  10. 90210 when it was good it was good and when it was bad it was bad (a line that Kate Jackson once said of Charlie’s Angel’s from her show) but those picked to play in this show were not serious at all, but after the 2nd season took it a bit more seriously which made the show a bit more interesting at times, some of the stars who were made stars I don’t believe really showed how lucky or grateful they really had it back then. Today you hardly see them, but only hear of the divorces, illness and battles they are facing, and some have settled down living the normal life. Oh 90102 those were the days!

  11. matty says:

    I am a diehard 90210 fan and I actually found this to be mostly an accurate and believable account of what happened. I do think it would have been nice if they addressed some of the post-Doherty seasons; and showed the way the series started to fall apart with constant cast departures.

    One take away for me: Gabrielle Carteris was as boring off-screen as Andrea Zuckerman was on-screen.

    • anon says:

      I do remember hearing about some of that stuff in other places (the virginity/sex storyline being why Brenda/Dylan ended for example) so it does sound slightly more accurate.

    • Bigdede says:

      There was too many errors. Actually Shannon told producers about Jason not Tori. Kelly and Brenda wore the same dress to the Spring Fling but the movie had that wrong. And Aaron Spelling didn’t make Knots Landing although they had Tori say that in the movie. Shannon got into a fight with an actress in that club. That actress tried to start a fight between her boyfriend and Brian Austin Green and Shannon stepped in.

      • girl_3 says:

        One other error I saw, though a bit subtle…when they showed Darren watching a tape of the scene where Jennie/Kelly talks about being raped, it appears to be filmed outside. That scene occurred in the Slumber Party episode, and definitely inside. And anyone else sad no homage to “Donna Martin graduates!”? A good bit of cheesy fun nonetheless.

        • TVJeff says:

          Another error – The show was originally called “Class of Beverly Hills” though it never aired with that name. So someone calling Aaron Spelling and saying I have a show called “90210” and Spelling adds “Beverly Hills” to it is inaccurate

      • Yes, Kelly and Brenda wore the same dress to the dance on the show, but in that scene of the movie they were arguing about wearing red to a promo shoot. When they showed them taking the picture later, Tori and Jennie were in red, and Shannen was in black, and was pissed.

  12. peterwdawson says:

    Anyone else think they should do one of these for Power Rangers?

    • Jane says:

      Is there Power Rangers drama I’ve never heard of?

      • peterwdawson says:

        Loads. Laughably low pay for the actors, racial controversies, one guy who was gay suffering serious gay bashing, Amy Jo Johnson basically getting stalked at one point, an infamous live event traffic jam… You could probably milk a TV movie out of it, end it with the original cast attending the funeral of Thuy Trang (whose own background is pretty interesting too, and tragic).

      • One of the Power Rangers on the new incarnations murdered his roommate

  13. Eran says:

    Lifetime’s a real class act, airing this whilst Doherty is fighting breast cancer. So much of fighting cancer has to do with positivity and the last thing she needs is yet another round of attacks and social media slagging off over 21-year-old dirty laundry.

    • anonymous says:

      This has nothing to do with the contemporary Doherty. Obviously, no one wishes her current tragedy on her or on any living human being.

  14. N says:

    The girl that played Jennie actually played on the 90210 spinoff. Fun fact

    • cilliansgirl says:

      The girl that played JennIe looked so much like Jennie Garth, especially in her mannerisms. She must’ve really studied her :-)
      So what role did she play in the 90210 spin off?

  15. D says:

    Shannen may have been drama on- and off-screen, but “90210” was never as good during the subsequent six seasons it aired. Shannen’s acting in her final season was best in show – there was none better before or after (from her co-stars).

  16. Jennifer says:

    Where were the parents? I know they weren’t our main focus but I watched the original shows and parents were a part of the original cast. A big part!

  17. iHeart says:

    I don’t know what was more painful, this movie or the CW 90210 (god they better not do an Unauthorized movie)

  18. jenilee says:

    Some of it was for sure true.

    1. Jason Priestley talked about being roomies with Brad Pitt in his memoir.
    2. The porn studio was next door and eventually they acquired it to make it the Peach Pit After Dark set.
    3. EP Charles Rosin said on a 90210 podcast that Spelling paid Lukes salary for the first year or two. He also sais that they were on the brink of cancellation until the success of the summer episodes.

    • Marchalina says:

      I know they are on the brink of cancellation because I was watching the show and everybody kept asking me while I was watching THAT show. Right after they became popular, the cowboy character killed himself.

  19. anonymous says:

    I found this to be a fun, delightful, 90-minute nostalgia trip back to the early 90s. It was funny that they didn’t even try and shoehorn the wonderful people playing the parents & the Peach-Pit owner in, but they only had 90 minutes … or less, with all of those commercials. I visited Minnesota a lot during the 1970s & 1980s, & the Walshes were to me completely un-Minnesotan, viz : not a single use of ay? at the end of sentences. Whenever they referred to an aunt, they never pronounced the word as ahhnt, which, unlike most Midwesterners, they would have as Minnesotans, & they must have tanned very quickly after arriving in California ! PS : Cobb’s resemblance to real-life Jenny was uncanny ; I had to keep reminding myself that that was not the real Jennie Garth, but someone playing her.

  20. Moana Beinhorn says:

    One section of the movie was played twice and this cut out the end. I was enjoying the movie and was very dissappointed when this happened. There was a second airings later and it happened again!

  21. shadester says:

    i enjoyed it. Shannen was a nighmare. What did she think would happen, Poor Jeenie for having to put up with that. Tiffani Thieesen had short hair when she started. just saying. I really wanna see the story of charmed.

  22. cilliansgirl says:

    Them throwing in an Ian Ziering Sharknado movie joke was hilarious –

    To Shannen ” You’re like a mix between a shark and a tornado…”
    To Ian “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

    One of many giggles throughout this nostalgic but silly movie night ;)

  23. Daniel says:

    Does anyone know what was the name of those musical tracks playing during the scene they were in the Roxbury Club?

  24. P Liggett says:

    First, I would bet money that Tori Spelling was an “inside source” for this movie. Second, I think the real genius of the show was showing during the summer when there was nothing else for TV viewers to watch. Does anyone really believe that the network told Aaron Spelling “no” about anything?? Finally, love or hate Shannon Doherty she was the center of that show and no amount of “other” brunette actresses ever were as loved or hated.
    Charmed was a true battle of the Diva’s; AM believed that she should be the center of that show but, SD turned out to be the stronger character… Even after SD left, AM never became the center of that program; she isn’t as attention getting as Shannon or Holly Marie were.

  25. Megan says:

    I loved the movie. I wish It was on lifetime. awesome movie!!! I loved it!!!

  26. Michelle Trubey says:

    I absolutely loved Shannen Doherty, she is agreat actress.