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|:HOME:|:RANTS:|:DECEMBER 15, 1999:
"Sibling Revelry"
DECEMBER 15, 1999

It’s been a month since the last episode of 90210 aired and, admittedly, I’ve kinda been glad for the hiatus. I mean, first and foremost, there was the big, scary fact that I had to retake the GRE Subject Test in Literature last weekend, and thus, being the obsessive-compulsive Cancer with Virgo Rising that I am, I felt the urge to study the entire history of Literature in preparation, making close to three hundred flash cards, and using three ­ count ‘em, THREE different GRE test prep books and taking 1 practice test (time, 2 hours 50 min) a day for the last week. Plus I had to start preparing my PhD applications and my new essays and my requests for letters of recommendation and all that other shit that I’m really really REALLY hoping that I’m doing for the last time right now. And then there’re the holidays to consider. The Husband-Type Man and I went back to Southern California for Thanksgiving with our families. And after a rather heinous travel schedule foisted upon him by work, we’ve been enjoying the last few Christmastime in New York weekends. And, last weekend, after the Dreaded Test was over, there was Wing and Glark’s visit, which totally rocked. Gustave was kick-ass enough to meet me at NYU after my test so we could head to the Site of the Gathering together. Contrary to Hissyfitish personas/perceptions, both Wing and Glark are, well, not just "nice" and "funny" but downright jolly and jovial. And Sars and Wing told me about this store that they’d been to the day before on 7th Avenue, called "Howdy Do," that they said had all sorts of Duran stuff. So after the Gathering had dispersed and Wing was off to ransack Old Navy, Gustave and I headed on over to check this place out. And practically the first thing we saw when we went in was this display of 90210 paraphernalia. I’m not giving away anything, because we bought a ton of shit, but there was more 90210 stuff than I knew existed… fan books and electronic games and they even had some of the dolls, one of which was the Donna doll I’ve been coveting! They were charging $75, and, I figure I got my Brinda doll for $25 last year, so I can hold out on the Donna one. But I must admit, a plastic replica of Tori is pretty damn close to the truth. I wanted to undress the doll to see if the plastic, upstanding boobies had the cavern effect, but since it was in its original box, I didn’t dare.

So, anyway, the show. Yeah. That.

First off, of course we had to have the whole ten hours long "last time on 90210" stuff. I kinda get a kick out of some of the edits, like the Donna/Dr. Martin conversation, and how it makes everything seem even more stilted and abrupt than usual. And then after all of that, we get the Mommy and Daddy Bringing Baby Home scene.

May I mention that their baby’s name is Maddy. In our Episode, I named Brinda’s baby Maggie. Shout-out count: we’ll say this one is a .5, okay? I’m totally and admittedly narcissistic about this whole shout-out thing, but I’ll also try to be fairly realistic.

So now PodJanet (tm Sbeet) had fully morphed from the confident, independent, only-slightly-acquiescent-to-her-bosses’-demands young professional woman into Janet: Hillster Wife—make that Janet: Kelly Taylor Wants That. Now PodJanet is finally experiencing motherhood "like I imagined it" (Well, at least the writers are consistent with Janet’s unrealistic life view. Hey, wait… maybe she and Stevie DO have more in common than just a baby!), calling Stevie "Daddy" and dressing all Matronly. Isn’t it cute? Until… panic sets in! I really like how now, just now, when they bring the baby home, it hits Stevie that Magg- er, Maddy is "dependent on us for everything! We have to be completely responsible for" feeding, clothing, teaching, protecting, etc., this helpless little creature "for eighteen years" (or longer). Funny, Stevie, but I believe that, word for word, that’s ALMOST EXACTLY WHAT I’VE SAID IN MY NUMEROUS PARENTING RANTS!

Shout-out count: 1.5

Then PodJanet, in her infinite wisdom which she has displayed oh-so-many times by 1) having sex with Steve Sanders, 2) having UNPROTECTED sex with Steve Sanders, 3) waiting to make a decision on the baby for three or four months because her family "has a history of miscarriage," 4) not telling Steve for that amount of time that she was pregnant, 5) lying about her parents and their values, 6) deciding, numerous times, to continue a relationship with Steve Sanders even though, in her own repeated words, he’s irresponsible, 7) MARRYING the loser! 8) I’ve made my point, huh? Anyway, Janet, being the SMRT (tm The Chixes/Homer J. Simpson) Woman she is, responds to Stevie’s parenting anxiety with the first Totally Inane Comment of the show: "We are programmed to do this." Um, Janet…? I- Do you- What on earth- Oh, never mind.

On to Donna and Gina at Now Wear This and at the Same Time Now Check Out This Wholly Unrealistic View of Retail and Designing. Donna, suffering the poor white trash cousin to come unto her, asks Gina if she can help out in the store… because… (second Totally Inane Comment) "It would give us a chance to get closer!" Oh, Donna! How noble! Familial closeness and cheap labor all at once! This reminded me of when my dumb dad, in one of his many make-money-quick enterprises, decided to open his own video store. He wanted me to "come into the family business" instead of going to college. At the time, I was working for that Big and Noxious bookstore chain as Community Relations Coordinator making, if not Bigbucks, at least several dollars over minimum wage. I was five minutes away from home and ten minutes away from school. Dad wanted me to, instead, drive FIFTY FIVE MILES north to work in his video store for six bucks an hour! "Dad… that wouldn’t even pay for my gas to get there and back!" "But it’s an opportunity, an investment in the future!" he actually tried to convince me. "This is the family business! Someday, when I die, I’m leaving this to you and your brother." "Um, Dad, for the ten millionth time, I don’t want to work in a video store! I don’t want to run a video store! I don’t want to own a video store! I don’t even like watching videos!" Fucktard. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about it, because Dad had to sell "The Family Business" several years ago and file for bankruptcy. Now the "Family Business" is this hokey cartoon-map that he produces for local retailers. In real life, Donna Martin would’ve bombed in business even quicker than my dad.

I gotta admit, while Gina’s leather pants scared the daylights out of me, I was amused by her "How very Felice of you" comment. This was a week that I think I’m okay with Gina’s character; her insecurities and weird behavior and tics and all that seemed pretty consistent, in general. But that doesn’t excuse her wardrobe! I’m still counting the weeks until Gina "The Gap Poster Child" Kincaide leaves the show (and takes Noah and Matt with her- oh, wait… wishful thinking.) But back to her character’s consistency… except for her weird non-reaction when Donna told her they "are sisters" (?! Technically, "Don," you’re only half-sisters), I thought Gina was behaving in an appropriately psycho, true-to-being-a-Professional-Victim role. There’s actual depth to her character… maybe even more so than Valerie (especially at the end, poor Val. We know you didn’t really kill your dad!)…. The Former Psych Major in me actually thinks Gina’s Davy/Dylan Deal, the bulimia, to some slight extent the Scheming, even being a professional ice skater, all fits quite well into a complex yet accurate character sketch of someone who had a hard childhood (poverty, money trouble [although affording those skating lessons had to be tough…. Did the Martins pay for that?], losing one’s father at an early age, getting involved in a demanding activity like skating that usually fosters insecurities and eating disorders and "little girl" physiques and behavior) and has grown up to be a screamingly insecure and self-destructive woman who only knows how to get attention by being a Professional Victim (tm me, many years ago). I’ll even accept her sitting in the Peach Pit gooning over old pictures of her father as a Professional Victim act… positioning herself in a conspicuous place where she’s sure to run into Donna and can thus have An Altercation with her. And I really think Gina scored a bull's-eye when she told Donna that she’s told her they were sisters not because she (Donna, that is) is sorry for "not being a better friend" and can’t stand "living a lie" because Donna is so Truthful and Ethical and Good and Innocent, but because "you wanted to remind me how miserable my life is and yours isn’t." High five, Gina, even with those dorky vests and track pants and sweatshirts pulled down over your thumbs and your weird spraddle duck-walk! The crazy person is really the sanest among us!

And then we get (*yaaaaawn* Oh, excuse me!) Dylan and Kell- (*yaaaaaaaawn* Sorry.) Dylan and Kelly, still rehashing and agonizing and (*yaaaaawn* Erm.) questioning and all that about their relationship. One big question re: all that: WHY?! Really. Why? And this time, I actually have an answer: because they are so fucking self-absorbed and wishy-washy and immature and co-dependant that it’s like they’re meant for each other! They have so much in common! They’re sou- No, I won’t say it.

So Kelly, if the store was so busy and Donna was freaking out about needing help, why’d you take off to meet Dylan? Why’d Dylan choose an ART GALLERY to meet and apologize for flaking on Kelly for Thanksgiving and giving her a rash on her cheek from touching her with his raw-turkey-gooked hands. (I know, I know, ostensibly so he could by her a BigSpensivePainting, the sensitive yet rich Renaissance Man that he is. And hanging at an art gallery thus underscores how Pretentious and Rich Yuppieish both he and Kelly are- I mean, how arsty and sophisticated he and Kelly are.)

And speaking of the painting…. Um…. Okay, I will readily admit I know next to nothing about art. I’ve taken one art history course about 4 years ago, and have had only tangential contact with art history in a literary context since (i.e. the Pre-Raphs, Modernism, and other movements/periods in history when art and lit co-mingle). However, as a lit student who analyzes as not only a career choice but as a hobby as well, I enjoy looking at paintings and trying to draw conclusions, reactions, feelings from the work. Also, I’ve been lucky enough to go to some of the most famous museums in the world (Tate, National Gallery, Philly, MoCA, Met, etc.) to see art of all eras. The Husband-Type Man and I, in fact, get quite a charge out of going together and analyzing stuff because we like and see such different things (f’instance, he likes modern art; modern art makes me inordinately cranky). So I’ve seen paintings before… lots of them… GOOD ones! When I see paintings in person, I tend to stand in front of them for a long time… moving closer until I’m almost nose-to-canvas, moving farther away, looking at the paint texture…. So why could Kelly just give one quick look at that splotchy painting and say (Inane Comment Number Three) "You should buy that one" (not "I like that one" or "Check out this one" but you should buy that one, like, Dylan, whip out that checkbook NOW! We’re shopping for paintings!) because it looks "inspired"?!?! I actually recorded the show for a change, and paused on the tape and studied the painting as best I could and concluded, to me, that it looked not only NOT inspired, but more like fragmented… disturbingly fragmented. Again, I’m no art critic, unlike, I’m sure, Kelly Taylor, who got her portrait silk-screened by Warhol and dated that oh-so-talented artist Colin Robbins, but I don’t get why she thought that thing was "inspired." Whatever, man.

I must throw in a quick mention: Dylan’s call to be "tortured with a medieval instrument w/a pitted blade at the end of a long stick" was not only incredibly insightful re: the sexual relationships on the show, but reminds me how I and, I’m sure, numerous others feel whilst watching the show. (Where is xix for the count on how many times "torture" or instruments of torture were mentioned in the Wrap-ups…?)

Okay. Speaking of shopping for paintings… I really loved the whole Conspicuous Consumerism aspect of Dylan buying a $16,000 painting (Dylie? Couldn’t you donate that money to Big Gay Andrew’s shelter? Gosh, where IS Andrew, anyway?) for "his place" that would "match the wallpaper"! I mean, yeah, I know the wallpaper comment was facetious (at least, I hope it was), but it reminded me of a bumper sticker or t-shirt or sig. line or something I saw somewhere that said "Art doesn’t match the sofa." I just like that. To me, the only reason to buy a piece of art is because you love it, you feel something when you look at it, it moves you. Unlike the old ex-friend who, with her hubby, bought a painting from a downtown mall gallery because it was "a good investment" and matched the colors of the custom-upholstered sofa they’d just gotten. Uch.

And speaking of uch… now it’s Dylan who’s helping Kelly find her Calling. Yes! They can help each other! Within a matter of weeks on the show, Dylan and Kelly will be back together, doing charity and helping Others and being philanthropic and the whole while it’s all just a self-serving, contrived vehicle to make them feel good about themselves and each other (much like my WHY lists and Episodes are self-serving, contrived vehicles to make me feel that I’m actually writing critically and creatively to a purpose of some sort. Don’t ask me what that purpose is, though).

And uch some more… the whole Baby Thing. I won’t even comment on the stupidity of the Anxious Stevie plot… too banal…. But LawyerBoy? First of all, where are you living now? And second, why did you seize a (supposedly) newborn baby and jounce her around playing "bouncy bouncy" WITHOUT SUPPORTING HER NECK!? If Fatherhood is LawyerBoy’s calling, then God save the children! And the fourth Inane Comment, from Kelly, "Ooooh, I could just EAT her!" Uh, easy there, girl! Please don’t cannibalize the baby. (Kelly Taylor Wants That!) The whole LawyerBoy’s a Natural Father dealie with those long shots of Kelly gazing on admiringly, wistfully to me symbolized EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH THIS FUCKING SHOW AND THE MESSAGES IT’S SENDING! I mean, why not just come right out and say that women should want ­ no, CRAVE ­ to be wives and mothers, 'specially if they're In Lurve! There is no higher calling! There is no greater fulfillment! (Well, I was going to try to make a hopefully-they-aren’t-that-sexist argument with the whole Fatherhood = Matt’s Calling, but it was clearly being presented as Symbolic of That Which Kelly Taylor Wants.)

Why on earth would Gina be bringing over knishes? I mean, I lived in Southern California for 28 years, and NEVER HEARD OF THEM UNTIL I MOVED HERE! Actually I take that back… they might’ve been on the menu at Jerry’s Famous Deli or Nate & Al's, but they certainly weren’t a regular part of the Southern California Food Experience… unless Jewish/East Coast food has suddenly become very trendy in the last 18 months. Fish tacos, brick-oven pizzas, even Middle Eastern cuisine, yes, but knishes?! I’d have to say no.

And Nat, why couldn’t you make a more sincere remark other that "cute kid"? Especially after you regaled everyone with tales of Frankie’s "belly button falling off" and junk like that.

Now Why Was Donna Wearing that shirt with the… fur… all looped around her upper arms?

Biggest WHY of all, to me, was the whole LawyerBoy "I’ve fallen in love with someone else" bullshit. I mean, WHY deliberately deceive the viewers with those lame-ass edits to make it seem like Kelly and LawyerBoy were breaking up, falsifying teasers, as it were. Hokey. Plus it got my hopes up. Turns out, that kind of bait-and-switch game playing was merely a reflection on the actual plot itself! In the context of the show/LawyerBoy&Kelly’s relationship, "I’ve fallen in love with someone else" and his later comment of "freaked you out, huh?" is hokey, immature game-playing on the lowest level... much like those badly-edited previews were. And, in a relationship, game playing is not cute or funny, LawyerBoy! If you really love someone, why would you want them to feel anxious, panicked, hurt, scared, whatever? I mean, it sounds to me like we’re doing that "testing" thing, like when my h.s.b.f. DumbAss thought it was cute to bait [screamingly insecure] me by trying to convince me he had another girlfriend or had been married before and had a kid or had dated the head cheerleader at his old school all because he wanted to "see what [my] reaction was," but I wasn’t supposed to get mad because he was doing it because he "cared" or because he "was just kidding!" and somehow after the emotional roller coaster of the whole "joke" I was supposed to be all relieved and more in love than before because that crummy thing he was trying to convince me of hadn't really happened. Just like Kelly’s supposed to be all touched and happy that LawyerBoy isn’t really dumping her but rilly rilly rilly wants "commitment" i.e. wants to have a baby (Kelly Taylor Wants That!). And then later with their Yet Another Big Reconciliation Scene, LawyerBoy plays more games by saying he has a "client" waiting for him in case he doesn’t like Kelly’s answer to the Soul Search question. Aw, poor vulnerable LawyerBoy. Game-playing is cute! Again, way to treat the one you supposedly love with respect and kindness. Way to be mature. Way to PISS ME OFF! For Kelly and LawyerBoy, "function" seems to be the operative fragment of "dysfunction."

And then, if the Kelly/LawyerBoy Fun With Dysfunction crap wasn’t enough, Kelly goes and does the game-playing schtick with Dyl-head by "kinda proposing" to him because she supposedly "knew he’d say no," like, what was the point of that, Kelly?! Actually, I was okay at first with Kelly telling Dylan to stop hinting around and that she wanted to know what he was doing and why and all that… until she said "if we’re going to do it, let’s do it right" this time, which, to Kelly, of course, means "real commitment" i.e. "house, dog, 2.2 kids" (Kelly Taylor Wants That!) like holy fuck! Get over the fucking stereotypes of marriage, Kelly! Having those things does not equal commitment! It will not mean your relationship is "serious"! It will not solidify and secure things! PLEASE, WRITERS, QUIT BEATING US SENSELESS WITH THIS HORRIFIC HACKNEYED IMAGE OF WHAT A "REAL" OR "SERIOUS" RELATIONSHIP IS! I mean, Donna Reed and Leave it to Beaver and all that was how many generations ago?! Can we please please please please move forward in the way we present women and marriage and relationships? Gawd damn! And then at the end of the show, we again get the whole "[LawyerBoy’s] safe and secure" i.e. "boring" crap, just like Brandon’s stupid "we wouldn’t swing from the chandeliers" reason for calling off his and Kelly’s wedding because if it isn’t turbulent, thus "exciting," it’s no fun and it’s not True Love! If the choice is Dylie or LawyerBoy, Kelly, for God’s sweet sake, Choose Me again! Please!

And speaking of Dysfunction Junction: 90210’s Guide to Fukt Relationships, let’s talk about Donna and Noah. Not that I’m not glad he’s finally being presented in a negative light and all, but… let’s go over this one more time. Noah kills his girlfriend in a drunk-driving incident, has emotional problems, drinking problems, plays around with a gun and shoots old pal Gwyneth, kinda fools around with Donna’s cousin, RAPED VALERIE and… and it’s the fact that Noah lied to Donna about going to Harvard that causes her to think that Noah isn’t "honest" and "decent"?! Like with Gina, I think Donna’s got some deeper issues working with this whole Harvard thing. I think she’s just rilly pissed off that she doesn’t get the "total rush" of "seeing [Noah] be Mr. Ivy League." (Inane Comment Number Five) Could Noah have been any more of a mushmouth? I couldn’t understand half the things he said. So… he was supposed to go to Harvard, but killed his girlfriend instead…? And his dad paid the cops off…? So, how did that prevent his going to Harvard? Was he too distraught and had to jet off to Hawaii? Was he so pissed at his dad for cutting a deal that he then decided not to go? And after his Big Confession, Noah and Donna engage in Inane Comments Six and Seven: "I told you people live with lies" mumbles Noah without moving his lips at all. "Yeah, but you didn’t tell me you were one of them," says Donna flatly without moving her upper lip at all. Oh, the pain! The anguish! The heartbreak! The drama! See Donna be Kind and Good as she avows Noah’s "honesty" and the value of "the truth"! See Donna’s Sweetness and Innocence crumble yet again in the face of "lies" and "cover ups"! Poor Donna… she is so Tender and Meek and Mild that we can’t dare to suggest that maybe she’s REALLY FREAKIN’ STUPID WHEN IT COMES TO RELATIONSHIPS AND NEEDS TO START READING SOME OF KELLY’S POP PSYCHOLOGY BOOKS!

And as if Kelly "pot" Taylor has a handle on relationships, she has the audacity to tell Donna "kettle" Martin that Noah’s lie about Harvard is "a red flag! You need to ask yourself what kind of guy you’re dealing with!" I mean, Kelly? You’re mooning over Dylan McKay, for Gawd’s sake! You really have no room to talk. Pick that log out of your own eye, honey. Now.

So. Again. At the beginning of the show, we are presented with the Donna’s Store is Rilly Rilly Busy motif (dovetailing into the Donna’s So Successful bit and the Donna’s Achieved and Donna’s Found Her Calling and all that). So then. Why, if the store is so busy, is there ONLY ONE PERSON WORKING PER SHIFT!? Why can Donna manage to go off to lunch with Mushmouth or Kelly can skip off to an art gallery with Dylan or either one of them can make out with their boyfriends or fight with their boyfriends or talk about their boyfriends right in the middle of a store supposedly packed with customers!?! Does ANYONE affiliated with 90210 have any concept of what it’s like to work retail during the Christmas season? When I was at the aforementioned Big and Nasty bookstore, during Christmas rushes, there would be ten people at the registers who literally would not MOVE from that register for hours at a time because the line of people buying stuff went all the way to the back of the store. There was one time where I asked the manager for a quick bathroom break because I had to go bad. I mean BAD! He said I’d have to wait ‘til things slowed down. Okay. So an hour later I said "I’m serious, I have to go!" And he said "Sorry, we need you up here." And I was in major pain at that point and finally after two hours I said "Look, I have to go NOW and I can’t wait because otherwise you’re going to be cleaning pee up from the register area" and I put up my "register closed" sign, apologized to the waiting customers, and fled to the bathroom, which, thank God, was available. I was gone for all of 3 minutes. When I got back the customer who’d been next in line was pissed (pun) that I’d closed my register when it was her turn. I explained that I was sorry but I had to go to the bathroom and had been waiting for over two hours and at that point it was an emergency. Do you think she cared? No! She wanted to purchase those books NOW and she’d been waiting in line and I had the AUDACITY to leave when it was her turn. Mind you, she’d been checked out immediately by the next available cashier at that point, so she’d already paid for her books, but despite being in such a hurry, she had to wait for me to come back from the bathroom to complain about the "rude service." And I said to her and my manager "Look, I know it was an inconvenient time and I’m sorry. However, legally you cannot deprive an employee of going to the bathroom, and it was an emergency." And the customer stomped off and my manager was all "Okay, whatever" and I opened my register and stood there ringing up people for another four hours. So I can’t imagine that Rabid Customers would put up with Donna and Noah sucking face all over the front counter if they wanted to purchase something. Of course, Now Wear This?!? is a small, upscale boutique, so perhaps customers wouldn’t be as plentiful there as at the aforementioned book superstore. So, looking back to the years I worked at clothing stores and smaller shops… huge lines of customers checking out aside, there were always twenty million people wanting help and asking questions of the staff. "Do you have this in blue?" "Are there any more in back?" "I can’t find my size!" "Is there a shirt to match?" "Can you help me find something?!" And if there weren’t people asking hundreds of questions, there was still the chaos of a heavily-shopped store to clean up… re-hanging and re-folding and re-arranging and putting together a new display outfit because someone’d just bought the previous one displayed and bringing out more earrings or other smaller items to replace the ones that been sold/stolen in the last half-hour and wiping up the fingerprints from the counter and taking the piles of clothes that someone’d left in the dressing room out to re-hang…. I’ve said it before (as have many of you) and I’ll say it again (for all of us): there is no way that Kelly and Donna could handle the average Saturday afternoon rush, just the two of them, with their obvious lack of customer-service skills, much less that just ONE of them could handle a Christmas rush crowd!

Okay. Why is Davy so pathetic? Why is he uncharacteristically being a total doormat with Gina? "There’s no ‘us’… just me." Uh, Davy? That’s masturbation, hon. Although, again, I must admit, I’d rather see a Hillster Boy act like this that yet another Hillster/Other Girl. I guess he’s in crappy relationships and snapping and punching Dylie because, as he told Dylan, he’s "depressed." It was actually kinda funny, Davy going up to Dylie, the Ultimate Moody Man, and asking "You ever been depressed, Dylan?" Bwa! But as hokey as it is, the whole Depressed Davy thing, at least it’s a somewhat more realistic reason for his weird behavior. And that hair and stubble. And his mottled red face.

Anyway. Why, after that car at the hotel hit Dylan, didn’t anyone ­ the hotel staff standing around, maybe, or THE DRIVER OF THE CAR, even ­ come over to see how he was or help him? Why didn’t he die? (Shoutout count: 2.5)

Why wasn’t Janet driving the Family Minivan?

And Stevie… he "really feels like the voice of authority" now because he can tell Maddy about ice cream and all that. Great. There’s a major reason why people have kids for all the wrong motivations: to have someone to look up to them. And why, again, did we get the whole Stevie Schtick about Irresponsibility is actually Really Healthy now that he’s discovered he can’t protect Maggie- ah, Maddy from Life and it’s Inevitable Hurts, so now, hey, (Inane Comment Number Eight) "let’s party!"? Woo hoo! And while you party with your infant, Stevie, I’m going to go bury my face in a pillow and play the "primal scream" game.

And next week… A Very Ultimatum Christmas! Why did every woman in the previews have one decorative tear snaking down their cheek?

Dwanollah

 

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