Salon's plucky TV critic Heather Havrilesky has an essay up bemoaning the current state of CW teen dramas, all of which idolize the uber-wealthy and their ridiculous spending habits. "As our country abandons its middle-class roots to become a nation of very rich and very poor, our television screens reflect this shift in the Armani-clad Manhattan prep school teens of Gossip Girl, the mansion-dwelling twins of Privileged and the original spoiled teens of 90210, reimagined as painfully skinny model-gorgeous mean girls, earnest bad boys and heartthrobs with wonderful manners who throw money around like young sultans," Havrilesky writes. (They are also predominantly white.)Comparing the original spoiled teens of 90210, like Shannen Doherty (pictured) with her new counterpart Shenae Grimes (also pictured) is something Flow TV does in an essay entitled, "Familiar Zipcode, New Bodies: A Critical Analysis of the Feminine Body in 90210. In addition to the rampant consumerism Havrilesky dismantles, looking at the new 90210, Shayla Thiel-Stern of the University of Minnesota writes, "There is a more troubling underlying current here to examine, and that is the realization of how the feminine body feminine body, and specifically the adolescent female body, exists within cultural discourse, and how it has changed over a relatively short span of time."
We can see this clearly in the two versions of 90210. It is absolutely striking to note how different the young women cast in the roles in the 2008 version of 90210 look than their predecessors in 1990. Granted, fashions and trends change. But put the high-waisted, baggy acid washed jeans aside and focus on bodies and faces. Notice how the bodies of the 1990s females in the cast are proportioned. They have hips, wider thighs, vaguely pronounced muscles and heads that appear to belong on top of their bodies. By the standards of 1990, these actresses were thin and pretty.
The best way to illustrate Thiel-Stern's point is to post the two cast photos side by side, as she does:
People often compare the supermodels of the 90s, none of whom was emaciated, with the much slimmer runway models of today as an example of how much things have changed in terms of what's considered a desirable body. The two casts of 90210, one robust, the other wasting away, show that its not only on the runway where standards of skinniness are untenable for most. Rich Kids [Salon] Familiar Zipcode, New Bodies: A Critical Analysis of the Feminine Body in 90210 [Flow TV] Earlier: The CW's New Shows Are Lacking In Color