The original 1990s American teen TV soap, Aaron Spelling’s seminal hit Beverley Hills 90210 saw a prosperous 10 years on air. It was (successfully?) revived in 2008, touted as a “spinoff” and not a remake and is currently into its fifth season.
Admittedly, I have never seen the newest extension, but I do remember the world of the Walshes: the climatic Dylan/Kelly/Brandon drama, Brenda absconding to London in a feeble attempt to write her off the show and loving the brainy and bow-bedecked Andrea Zuckerman for her academic commitment, feminist inclinations and writerly ambitions. The original show, although highly problematic in many areas, actually conveyed development in the main characters to some degree over its arc of ten seasons, that I appreciate in retrospect.
But, more importantly I recently came across a blog post that highlighted the differences in female body types from the early 90s cast to the latest and greatest of today. Even though there is a starring cast member of color and another character is dealing with questions of his sexual orientation (one of the topics the old series never touched; in truth it addressed social issues methodically – broadly and softly), the revival disproportionately focuses around straight white teens,
Check out the side-by-side cast comparison below and how the thin ideal has gotten smaller and more sexualized over the past decade.
Don’t get me wrong – the female cast members were thin THEN, but it’s clearly evident that not only are the females thinner collectively in the current cast, they are also significantly more sexualized. This supports the idea that in recent years what women and girls are seeing reflected in popular culture among Hollywood starlets and celebrities is a body ideal that has gotten increasingly/excessively thinner and considerably less diverse. Even the men featured in the latest spinoff have displayed, chiseled bodies (in the beach scenes) versus the cast of yesteryear where Steve is the only one sans shirt.
Visually I also find it interesting that the 90s clan take photos where they are physically closer in many of the shots, their bodies are seemingly less on display for consumption.