Thursday, May 30, 2013

This or That: Beverly Hills, 90210 vs. Melrose Place

They even wore opposing colors.
 My obsession with Beverly Hills, 90210 and its subsequent spin-offs is hardly a secret. It's one of the most beautiful television franchises in history. And it's probably not a coincidence that its two best series, the original 90210 and its first spin-off Melrose Place, aired together in the 90s. Though they shared the same universe, the shows were vastly difference, so much so that they were constantly pitted against one another during their original broadcasts. This leaves us with one question: Which is better? Once again, Tommy Time's This or That is on the case.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Beverly Hills, 90210 is the foundation of the entire franchise. Story-wise, if Kelly didn't get involved with an older man who lived in an apartment complex off of Melrose Avenue, there wouldn't have been a spin-off. Melrose Place owes BH90210 its life. Not only that, but the parent show revitalized the teen drama, showcasing adolescence in a realistic yet dramatic way never before seen on television, and was one of the first high school centric series to successfully transition into the college years. Melrose Place took a different tonal route (which I'll discuss later), but it didn't do anything that prior primetime soaps like Dallas didn't before it.

Awards and accolades

Neither show reaped up a plethora of awards, and both were snubbed by the Emmys. However, 90210 was nominated for 4 Golden Globes (2 for Best TV Drama and 2 for Jason Priestley as Best TV Drama Actor) while Heather Locklear and Laura Leighton were nominated a total of 5 times for their Melrose performances.

In 2007, Entertainment Weekly named 90210 the #20 classic in the new TV era, with Melrose trailing in at #51. The magazine also named the 90210 theme song as one of television's best and the guys' sideburns as one of the best pop culture fashion trends; Melrose failed to make either list. Both shows made an impact on TV, but it's clear that this round goes to 90210!

Just the numbers

90210 ran for an astounding 10 seasons; Melrose ran for 7. And while Melrose outperformed 90210 during the 1996-1997 broadcast season, it was the latter that won in the ratings. Additionally, the 90210 reboot lasted 5 seasons; Melrose's reboot was cancelled after just one. Without question, 90210 wins this round!

Star power

90210 took a bunch of unknown actors and turned them into superstars. Jason Priestley and Luke Perry were teen heartthrobs while Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling were notable tabloid fixtures. Along with co-stars Brian Austin Green, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and Hilary Swank, the West Bev alums are still household names.

Melrose didn't have nearly as much luck. Heather Locklear was already at the top of her game when she joined the cast, but only Marcia Cross and Kristen Davis emerged from the series with a notability that they still keep to some degree. Clearly, Melrose has nothing on the 9-0 zip. This round goes to 90210!


Both shows may have shared the same universe, but they couldn't have been more different. 90210 tended to have better performances and stayed as true to reality as it could; the rare outlandish plotline was more than compensated by amazing character development and a strong sense of continuity. Melrose is one of the soapiest shows I've seen. It's crazy storylines never serviced the characters but rather sought to jolt the audience. Different strokes for different folks, but I say this round goes to 90210!

Well, wow (as Amanda Bynes would say in reference to a hair cape). It sure looks like Melrose Place struck out, huh? Well, unlike previous This or Thats, there are no losers here. Both shows are amazing, but 90210 is just superior. If you haven't, I encourage you to watch both series. It's only 17 years worth of television. Totally doable.

1 comment:

Dalton Belflower said...

I have seen a few reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210 on SoapNet, but since this channel is discontinued now, I guess I want be watching it anymore. As for Melrose Place I have never seen an episode, but my Mama says she liked it better than 90210 because it was more serious and not as fluffy. What little I've seen of 90210 was quite basic drama with a lot of unneeded comic relief.