TV Report Card | '90210' Season 5 Review

Overview: The last season of the show you never quite understood why you watched in the first place finally arrived. The young-adults (I use the term very lightly) experienced another season of backstabbing, sobbing and broken hearts.

Storyline Direction: As far as story direction goes, “90210” tended to go one of two ways, either they’d do a story that was blink and you missed it, as it was only told through 3 episodes and never spoken of again or it drug on…and on… and (you guessed it) on. The show seemed to talk down to its fans and more pointedly to its target audience. They can handle meatier soap than this.

They seemed poised to tell a more engaging storyline and then shied away from it (i.e. Silver’s cancer gene). The show always seemed to be pulled into different directions, that of banal fluff and weighty social issues. Sadly, it always sided with the former.

Silver faced a medical issue at the end of the previous season and it served as the main focal point of her storyline this season, when she learned that she had tested positive for the BRCA gene. This is sadly, an issue that too many young women face and it could’ve been an opportunity to celebrate what truly makes a woman beautiful. To tell it properly, would’ve required a contradiction to the rather flippant regard the show has demonstrated towards monogamous relationships and it would’ve been worth it.

Seeing Silver, amid the backdrop of a town where the superficial attributes of people matters more than any other playground on earth, battle her own self-worth as she has to be physically altered to save her own life and on an intimate level, reconciling what that would mean in the privacy of her own relationship would have been much more powerful. Instead, they focused on a terribly constructed surrogacy storyline. The nonsensicalness of that storyline was such a massive insult to viewers’ brain cells that it could be categorized as an outright assault.

Once it was established that Teddy wasn’t going to let Silver carry her own embryo, the reason for the expediency in going through the procedure in the first place, that story should’ve been halted. She should’ve put them back on ice and focused on her cancer battle. The dreadful storyline also introduced the worst imaginable surrogate in the history of it being dramatized in any fashion, Michaela (Lyndon Smith) was one of the worst incarnations this show has ever seen and that is saying a lot. The show, true to form, barely touched on the most important issues of a story and poured itself into the melodramatic angle.

As for the other storylines, Max (Josh Zuckerman) and Naomi’s (AnnaLynne McCord) ill-fated marriage fell apart for no other reason than plot driven devices. Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes) and Dixon’s coupling ended, in you guessed it, another breakup. Her character was quite frankly irredeemable after she switched Silver’s meds and acted entitled to the group’s forgiveness and respect.

She should have been humbled and at least matured after seeing how far off the tracks she had become and downright cruel to others who’d nothing to deserve it. Navid (Michael Steger) was all over the place, the womanizer with an alleged heart of gold. Dixon recovered from his death-defying accident (he might be immortal) and started his own music label.

Teddy’s story was left unresolved, at least he and Silver reconciled, didn’t like the rough patch in their relationship. Their friendship was always a bright spot for the show. Liam (Matt Lanter) was once again the misogynistic pig that he has always been and the show tried to tell us he was a mega movies star, puh-lease. In what universe was that realistic?

Annie (Shenae Grimes), who during the retrospective special before the finale aired, was declared the “moral compass” of the show, spent the season dealing with the aftermath of being a prostitute by exploiting the experience on a blog (because she was so ashamed). She fell in love with Riley (Riley Smith) a wheelchair bound Veteran, who she made feel so inferior that he died undergoing an experimental surgery to get out of said wheelchair.

After making that life sacrifice for her, she repaid him by crying about it for one music montage at the end of the episode and then, the very next episode, was already craving to hook up with Liam. Disgusting. It says a lot about the overall direction of the show when that is who the showrunners were proud to say is a “moral compass”. There was never any hope for this show.

Performance Quality: AnnaLynne McCord (Naomi) did her best with the material she was given. With her mega-watt smile and bubbly effervescence shining through, she attempted to distract us from the horrible storylines she had to repeat over and over, for that she deserves commending.

 Jessica Stroup (Silver) always gave 100% commitment to her storylines and she delivered some of the best dramatic acting moments that the show ever had, from her bi-polar storyline to cancer diagnosis, her talent always shined through and when given the opportunity, she transformed the often campy world of “90210” into a respectable teen drama.

Arielle Kebbel did her level best and her potential was wasted as yet another smart woman fell for the moron that is Liam. Jessica Parker Kennedy (Megan on 90210, perhaps best known for her role on “The Secret Circle”) did a really nice job with her arc and then unceremoniously exited the show in a rushed effort.

Josh Zuckerman (Max) also had some good moments this season however, he absolutely blow it out of the water when he was on “Desperate Housewives” in an amazing episode that he solely led and it was phenomenal. Sadly, “90210” didn’t seem as interested in fostering his or any other actor’s talents. He did give it his best; they weren’t interested in using it though.   

Musical Score: The music this season was one of the bright spots in a dreary season. The standout musical moment was the use of Ron Pope’s “Everything” during one of the final music montages of the last handful of episodes. OneRepublic’s “I Lived” was the perfect finale song and served to distract us from the non-finale.

Overall Grade: D, sentimentally it was sad to see this one go. Wasted opportunity after another, the finale episode was awful. From what I understand, the cancellation was thrust on the showrunners very quickly and they didn’t have time to pen a proper finale.

I empathize, really and truly, but after viewers had spent 5 years watching this show they could have at least tacked on a last-minute epilogue that let us know how each of the characters ended up, especially Silver whose character was left in the biggest cliffhanger status.

Just tie things up and give the viewers closure, it was the least they could do. Some of us needed more than a cliché motorcycle chase and tarmac proposal to feel complete.

[Images by The CW]

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