22 Unforgettable Life Lessons 'Beverly Hills, 90210' Taught Us

Samantha Sutton | Oct 11, 2018 TV
22 Unforgettable Life Lessons 'Beverly Hills, 90210' Taught Us
Image: CBS/Facebook

Beverly Hills 90210
CBS/Facebook

TV series, shows targeted towards teens in particular, tend to walk a fine line between being overly cheesy and pretty informative. One week, a long-lost family member returns back to town, or a revenge-thirsty murderer is on the loose. The next? More serious stuff is suddenly at play, and we’re learning all about drug addiction, suicide, and teen pregnancy. These days, the CW's Riverdale may reign supreme in the teen drama category, but back in the 1990s, it was Luke Perry's other major series, Beverly Hills, 90210, that was number one. It covered most of the issues that we still see on shows today -- and in real life -- but the big difference here is that it was one of the OGs to do it.

Did anyone else watch every episode religiously, right at it was airing? Or maybe some peeps started binge-watching the entire series again to feel the feels? Either way, it's entirely possible to get super hooked on the lives of Brenda and Brandon Walsh, Kelly Taylor, Dylan McKay, Steve Sanders, Donna Martin, David Silver, and Andrea Zuckerman. (It was quite the ensemble cast). Yes, there were plenty of groan-inducing story lines, silly high school relationship drama, and corny '90s dialogue woven in here and there. But, this throwback series also taught us a variety of important life lessons, which is likely why it still falls under that "iconic" category.

We've listed 22 things we learned from watching Beverly Hills, 90210 over the years. Because, sometimes, we learn from them more than once -- and more than one way. A number of the episodes (especially the earlier ones) center around issues that are still relevant today.

  • Honesty Is the Best Policy

    1

    There would have been a lot less drama on this show had everyone just been honest about their intentions, who they liked, and what they felt. But when Brenda gets caught sneaking around with Dylan in season three, we pretty much felt the anxiety that comes along with lying to our parents.

    Sorry, mom and dad!

  • Taking Drastic Measures to Lose Weight Are Never a Good Idea

    2

    Teen shows usually have a least one episode that touches on eating disorders and body image. In season three of Beverly Hills, 90210, we learned that diet pills are really, really dangerous. Kelly takes too many and ends up in the hospital.

  • Knowing CPR Can Help Save Someone's Life

    3

    When Nat had a heart attack at the Peach Pit in season four, it was some quick thinking and chest compressions that helped keep him alive before the ambulance got there.

    (Great job, Dylan and Brandon!)
  • It's Worth Being Overly Cautious While Hiking

    4

    Dylan and Brandon climbing a cliff in sneakers and jeans? Doesn't seem wise -- which is likely why Brandon slipped and fell, and Dylan had to act quickly and grab him to save his life.

  • The Decision to Have Sex Is Personal & Different for Everyone

    5

    Virginity was a big issue when it came to David and Donna's relationship. But she wasn't afraid to tell him "no" and do things at her own pace. This reiterated to teens everywhere not to give in to the pressure of having sex and to wait until they're ready.

  • Teen Sex Can Lead to Teen Parenthood -- Which Is Definitely as Hard as It Looks

    6

    In season one, Brandon dates a girl who has a baby and learns firsthand that it's not easy taking care of a little one. Brenda also has a pregnancy scare after having sex with Dylan -- with protection -- proving no method is 100 percent effective (aside from abstinence).

  • Sex Should Always Be Consensual

    7

    Beverly Hills, 90210 tackled the issue of rape numerous times -- from Brenda volunteering at a help hotline and receiving a call from a victim, to Kelly being attacked at a Halloween party. In season one, Kelly is also pressured at a sleepover to reveal the "real" first time she had sex, and goes into horrific detail about a football player who forced himself on her in the ninth grade.

  • Mental Health Is Important

    8

    The group learns this lesson a few times, such as in season two, when Brandon's girlfriend (Emily Valentine) nearly lights a homecoming float -- and herself -- on fire with gasoline and a lighter. In season four, a college student named Laura attempts to commit suicide by hanging herself. Thankfully, in both cases, someone was there to intervene.

  • Doing Drugs Comes With Consequences

    9

    That includes alienating loved ones and even legal troubles, which we saw when David got busted by the cops  right after he flushes his dealer's stash down the toilet in season four.

  • It's Perfectly Fine to Seek Professional Help

    10

    More than a few members of this group end up struggling with addiction of some kind, and after Dylan's drinking gets out of hand, Brandon convinces him to go to an AA meeting -- showing viewers there's no shame in asking for professional help.

  • It's Never Too Early to Screen for Breast Cancer

    11

    Brenda might've only been 16 in this clip, but after performing a breast self-exam in season one, she finds a lump. It turns out to be caused by her hormones in the end, but it taught us that it's always worth it to get checked out to be sure.

  • Even Our Best Friends Will Disappoint Us

    12

    We'd be here all day if we had to list the times this group hooked up with someone else's significant other. It was a big test on Brenda and Kelly's friendship after the blond bombshell and Dylan got together (behind Brenda's back!) in season three. But friendships often prove to be stronger than any romantic relationship.

  • Just Because Someone's in a Wheelchair Doesn't Mean He or She Should Be Treated Differently

    13

    Kelly ends up having a little crush on Brenda and Brandon's cousin, Bobby, who is paraplegic on the show -- and David crushed on his blind piano teacher at one point. This show was pretty good about inclusivity, showing that differently-abled people should be treated like everyone else.

  • The Decision to Have a Baby Is One That Shouldn't Be Made Lightly

    14

    When Andrea unexpectedly finds out that she's pregnant during her first year in college, she weighs her options -- abortion included. Ultimately, she decides to keep her baby, but the story line covered a tough decision that drastically changed her life.

  • We Should Always Keep an Eye on Our Drinks

    15

    We've been told repeatedly to keep an eye on our drinks when we go out, but seeing Brandon getting drugged in season two -- by his girlfriend no less -- really drove the lesson home.

  • Being Adopted Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

    16

    Steve struggles a bit with this info when he first finds out that he's adopted. But it ultimately leads him on a journey to find his biological family and brings him closer to his mom and dad who adopted him.

  • When We Believe in Something, We Should Fight for It

    17

    Sometimes, it's wanting condoms to be handed out around campus. Other times, it's people protesting that Donna should still walk at graduation, despite the fact that she was caught drinking at prom.

  • There Is No Ideal Time to Break Up With Someone

    18

    There were plenty of messy breakups on 90210 over the years, but when David dumps Donna on Christmas ... that also happens to be her birthday? Oof! It's pretty much tied with the time Brenda broke up with Dylan right after the two slept together.

  • Everyone Is Deserving of Kindness

    19

    In season three, Brandon invites Jack Canner, a Gulf War veteran who is homeless, to Thanksgiving dinner -- which is a nice lesson and message on its own. Later, however, we see Jack and Brandon's dad, Jim, disagree on certain issues and find common ground, proving that empathy and kindness are important qualities to have.

  • Guns Are Serious Business

    20

    Brenda suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after being robbed at gunpoint at the Peach Pit, and we'll never forget David Silver's BFF Scott accidentally killing himself while playing around with a handgun.

    So tragic.

  • Be Cautious Around Strangers

    21

    Maybe it wasn't the brightest idea for Steve to let two girls he barely knew drive his car in season one?

    They ended up stealing it!

  • All Families Have Their Issues

    22

    It doesn't matter if someone is wealthy or not, all the families of 90210 had their issues -- from drug use, to alcohol abuse, to scandals, and more.

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