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 had to do a story that was blink, and you missed it, as it was only told through 3 episodes and never spoken of again, or its 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). “90210” always seemed to be pulled into different directions -- that of addressing banal fluff and weighty social issues. Sadly, it always sided with the former.

Silver faced a medical issue at the end of Season 4, and it served as the main focal point of her storyline in Season 5. This season is when she learned that she had tested positive for the BRCA gene after all. Unfortunately, this is an issue that too many young women face, and it could have been an opportunity to celebrate what truly makes a woman beautiful. 

To tell it properly would have required a contradiction to the rather flippant regard the show has demonstrated towards many issues, including monogamous relationships, and it would have been worth it. Silver dealing with changes amid the backdrop of Los Angeles is a story in itself. It is a town where people’s superficial attributes matter more than any other playground on earth. 

Watching Silver battle her own self-worth as she had to face being physically altered to save her own life was an incredible place to tell an impactful story. On an intimate level, reconciling what that would mean in the privacy of her own relationship would have been much more powerful. 

What “90210” chose instead was to focus on a terribly constructed surrogacy storyline. The nonsensicalness of which was such a massive insult to viewers’ brain cells that it could be categorized as an outright assault.

Once it was established that Teddy was not going to let Silver carry her own embryo -- the reason for the rush in going through the procedure in the first place -- that story should have gotten halted. Silver should have put them back in the freezer and focused on her cancer battle. 

The dreadful storyline also introduced the worst surrogate in the history of it being dramatized in any fashion. Michaela (Lyndon Smith) was one of the worst incarnations “90210” has ever seen, and that is saying a lot. “90210” -- true to form -- barely touched on the most critical issues of the 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.

Adrianna should have been humbled and at least matured after seeing how far off the tracks she had become and downright cruel to others who had 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. So, there was that.

Teddy’s story was left unresolved. At least he and Silver reconciled. I did not 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 he has always been, and the show tried to tell us he was a mega movie star, puh-lease. In what universe was that realistic?

During the retrospective special before the series finale, Annie (Shenae Grimes) was declared the “moral compass.” of the show. What compass did Annie use when she fell in love with and mistreated Riley (Riley Smith)? To recap, Riley was a paralyzed Veteran that Annie made feel so inferior that he died undergoing experimental surgery to get out of his wheelchair. Seriously.

After making that life sacrifice for her, Annie repaid Riley by crying about his death for one music montage at the end of the episode. Cut to the very next episode (with no time jump), and Annie was already craving to hook up with Liam. Disgusting. It says a lot about the show’s overall direction when Annie is the so-called “moral compass.”

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

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 Silver’s bipolar storyline to her cancer diagnosis, Stroup’s 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 tough-to-take Liam. Jessica Parker Kennedy (Megan), a standout from “The Secret Circle,” did an especially excellent job with her arc and then unceremoniously exited the show in a rushed effort.

Josh Zuckerman (Max) also had some good moments this season. Zuckerman absolutely blew it out of the water when he was on “Desperate Housewives” in a fantastic episode that he solely led, and it was phenomenal. Sadly, “90210” did not seem as interested in fostering his or any other actor’s talents. He did give it his best, although they were not interested in using it much.   

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 speaking, it was sad to see this one go. One wasted opportunity after another undermined its potential with a genuinely awful finale episode. From what I understand, the cancellation was thrust on the showrunners very quickly, and they did not 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 for the fans. At least, let us know how each of the characters ended up, especially Silver, whose character was left battling the most enormous 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 clichรฉ motorcycle chase and tarmac proposal to feel complete.

[Images by The CW]