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:
1. 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…
(Also, “She played a witch?” Amazing.) Grade the movie below, then drop a comment with your full review.