Donna Martin (Tori Spelling) and David Silver (Brian Austin Green) finally say their vows, and on-and-off couple Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) reunites, as the curtain closes on the teen drama series Beverly Hills, 90210 after 10 seasons. The final episode of the show, which premiered on October 4, 1990, on the Fox Television network, airs on this day in 2000.
Beverly Hills, 90210 was created by Darren Star and produced by Aaron Spelling, known for his roster of hit TV shows, including The Mod Squad, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Starsky and Hutch and T.J. Hooker, among many others. At the outset, the show focused mostly on the culture shock that twin siblings Brandon and Brenda (Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty) experience when they move with their parents from Minneapolis to swanky Beverly Hills. The first few seasons of the series followed the Walsh twins and their classmates—notably played by Garth, Perry, Spelling, Green, Gabrielle Carteris, and Ian Ziering—through their time at West Beverly Hills High School (the fact that many of the actors were noticeably older than high school age was well noted in press coverage of the show). The third season saw many of them go off to college at California University, and by the eighth season the gang (much changed after many cast departures and additions) was making their way into adult life.
90210 became the first in a string of Fox programs that were geared towards teenagers and young adults, combining glamour and style trends with a moralistic spin on teen-focused “issues.” Seemingly, no subject was taboo, and in its 10 seasons the show featured plotlines revolving around alcohol and drug abuse, learning disabilities, teenage pregnancy, date rape, gay rights, domestic violence, suicide and AIDS. Fueled by a young, diverse audience, 90210 proved to be consistently popular in the ratings for most of its run, reaching as high as No. 24.
Frequent cast changes occurred throughout the course of the show, most notably the departure of Doherty, who left at the end of the fourth season amid rumored tensions on the set. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who played Brandon’s bad-girl cousin for four seasons, replaced Doherty. Perry departed near the beginning of the sixth season but returned in the ninth as a “Special Guest Star.” In 1992, 90210 spawned a spin-off, Melrose Place, which was aimed at a slightly older audience; though it got off to a disappointing start, it eventually became another hit, producing in turn its own short-lived spin-off, Models, Inc. In the 10th season, ratings for Beverly Hills, 90210 dropped to an average of only 10 million viewers per week, a decline from previous seasons. Fox finally pulled the plug in early 2000, and the final episode aired that May. Melrose Place had bowed out the previous year.
In the fall of 2008, an updated version of Spelling’s now-classic series, titled simply 90210, debuted on the CW network. The show focused on a family from Kansas—parents with two teenage children—who move to Beverly Hills to keep tabs on the father’s alcoholic mother, a former TV star. Garth and Doherty both signed on to reprise their roles of Kelly Taylor and Brenda Walsh, now a guidance counselor and a guest musical director, respectively, at West Beverly Hills High School. The series ran until 2013.