- October 29, 2008 2:28 PM |
- By Arts Online
Illustration by Jillian Tamaki
Welcome back, 90210. I wish I could say I missed you during your two-week hiatus. Instead, I filled the high school drama void by revisiting my beloved Degrassi: The Next Generation, and realized that, while you may have poached Toronto's Sean Reycraft (a former member of the Degrassi production team) to serve as your producer, we (non-defector) Canadians do angsty adolescent melodrama wa-a-a-a-y better.
This week, the Beverly Hills kids celebrated homecoming. The school dance trope should be a no-brainer for teen soap producers -- you've got the built-in drama of over-the-top outfits, date anxiety, pressure around sex and potentially spiked punch, while emotions are magnified by the intense anticipation leading up to the sock-hop. But 90210's homecoming bash was a big ol' sequin-spangled heap of disappointment. So why did "There's No Place Like Homecoming" (the episode title, which was cleverer than any line of dialogue that actually appeared in the show) fall flat?
Annie and Ethan: NO BUILD-UP. Those two bashert (the Hebrew word for "intended/beloved," which was reportedly engraved on the bracelet that A-Rod was rumoured to have sent to sorta-gf Madonna this week) lovebirds have been all but getting it on since the series pilot. And sure, the "OMG It's So Wrong We Can't Possibly Go Together Because It Will Hurt People We Care About!" set-up of their homecoming non-date was established in the first five minutes of last night's episode, but I can't say that there was more than a slight frisson of drama when the pair awkwardly slow-danced right in front of pouty Naomi. Ditto for their inevitable show-closing makeout. Considering there were, like, at least 200 other kids there to obscure the couple and probably 50 different nooks and crannies where Annie and Ethan could've escaped to canoodle in private, I was baffled by their utterly blase attitude. Ditto for Naomi, who barely even shifted out of her customary duck-like pout.
Speaking of which: Naomi's reaction to this major betrayal by the girl she'd anointed her new BFF was mature, thoughtful, calm and articulate -- a shining example of straightforward communication. Which is to say, completely implausible. WTF, 90210? This is your Queen Bitch? Where is the character consistency? If some rude tramp stabbed me in the back by acting like we were besties, then turned around and hooked up with my boyfriend, you'd better believe there'd be some conniptions being thrown. Not only did Naomi -- with her ugly, weirdly demure dress and stiff mess of curls -- look like a 50-year-old on last night's episode; she acted like one.
Another factor in the dearth of homecoming-inspired thrills and chills: too many secondary plotlines. Viewers certainly deserved to find out that Adrianna (whose Cleopatra coif looks more and more like an awful wig with each successive episode) did not in fact OD, but was revived and shipped off to celebrity rehab. But we didn't really need to spend so much time watching poor earnest Navid play suitor-slash-saviour. Hey producers -- don't introduce a potentially significant brand new romance as a C- or D- narrative arc. Pseudo-misanthropic Silver's decision to schedule her wisdom teeth extraction the day of homecoming was cute (a literal illustration of "I'd rather get my teeth pulled than go to Homecoming"), and actor Jessica Stroup did a decent job of playing Goofball Stoned On Vicodin, but her sweetly stable romance with Dixon didn't require quite so much screen time. Similarly, the grating ongoing subplot in which wholesome mom Debbie (aka Aunt Becky From Full House) struggles with jealousy? Really didn't need to retrieve that ball last night. Totally not interesting.
You know what is totally interesting? The burgeoning romance between Hot Teacher Ryan and the streetwise, sassy student who's actually an undercover cop. Too bad you blew the big reveal last night. Homecoming should be intense enough without pulling out the hidden ace of Hot Young Teacher Finally Acts On Taboo Feelings He's Been Struggling With Upon Discovering His Crush Is Not A Student, But Actually An Adult.
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