Festive Rewind: Beverly Hills 90210 “It’s a Totally Happening Life”

16 Dec

It’s TV Ate My Wardrobe’s first festive season and to mark this occasion we are hosting a very special rewind series. What this means is that we will be featuring a whole host of guest posts and in the spirit of the holidays we have asked a variety of writers to discuss a festive episode of their choice. These will be appear on the site over the next couple of weeks and there’s an eclectic mix including teen dramas, science fiction, animation, comedy, drama and more to get you in the celebratory mood. Or to at least give you plenty of suggestions of TV to watch over the break.

Julie Hammerle is treating us to the joys of early 90s teen TV and the wonder that is Beverly Hills 90210 and “It’s a Totally Happening Life”

DSC02057“Don’t thank me. Thank you-know-who.”

These are the last lines of Beverly Hills 90210’s third season Christmas episode, “It’s a Totally Happening Life,” and I’m pretty sure the “you-know-who” we’re supposed to be thanking is Donna Martin Graduates for being a perfectly perfect role model and character who solves all the problems and never does anything wrong. She gives angels wings, people. She makes miracles happen.

This whole “Donna the Angel” thing is a recurring theme throughout the ten seasons of Beverly Hills 90210, and I just wonder if it was Aaron Spelling’s doing or if it was the brain child of the writers to stay on Aaron Spelling’s good side.

DSC02047Anyway.

“It’s a Totally Happening Life” is ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous hour of television. It has everything: a potential bus crash, talking star angels, lots of smooching, and Andrea rapping.

The episode starts when Miriam, a star who wants to be an angel I don’t know, asks a more seasoned angel-star, Clarence, to help her save a bunch of rich, good-looking adults-pretending-to-be-high-schoolers. We don’t know why she needs to save them when millions of other people need saving around the world every day or what she needs to save them from (themselves? food poisoning) until later in the episode (spoiler: it’s a bus crash), but we just know that she needs to do it.

DSC02051What is happening outside the bus crash is that everyone in the West Beverly popular group is fighting or moping. Steve is stuck in detention. David is sad that he’s only junior and won’t graduate with Donna Martin Graduates, et. al. Andrea and Brandon have both just been dumped, and they wind up kissing each other for no good reason. Brenda and Kelly have proposed a fake friendship with Dylan, though really they both just want to jump his mom-jeaned bones.

Because everyone is so frustrated with one another, they almost don’t get on the bus (yay, the bus is going to crash!), but then Donna and the principal guilt them into getting on the bus and doing what they promised (bringing Christmas joy to underprivileged girls and boys).

DSC02048Everyone keeps pouting on the bus and yelling at one another, even at the people with whom they had no beef. Why was Kelly yelling at David? I have no idea, but it happened. Then Donna gets up and gives a big, dumb speech about the Reason for the Season and everyone kisses and makes up and then the drunk guy in the truck drives RIGHT THROUGH, literally RIGHT THROUGH, the bus and no one is hurt. Because Donna is God. That is the lesson here, I think.

While the truck was on its way to ram into the bus, I just kept thinking, what if the show had had the balls to just let the bus crash. The only main character not on that bus was Steve. What if they had killed everybody else and just started over with Steve? That would’ve been kind of amazing. I’m sure we’d still be talking about it today. Remember that time 90210 killed EVERYONE?

But, of course, that didn’t happen. And I guess I’m thankful for that. If everyone had died in the bus crash, we would never have seen drunk Donna or meth-head David or coked-out-burned-stalked-in-a-cult Kelly or Brandon, doing whatever it is Brandon does.

DSC02055I know I should mention the fashions here. This show was from December 1992, when I was in 8th grade, and much of this fashion hits close to home. I especially loved Donna’s velvet choker that, up close, revealed itself to have…a tiny Christmas wreath charm attached. Amazing. I need it. I also loved how baggy Dylan’s shirt was, tucked in and bloused out of his stone washed mom jeans. And Andrea’s upholstery vest? Gorgeous. A thing of beauty. How did anyone ever think she could pass for a teenager?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good…this.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found atchicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

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