'90210': Schoolyard sex too much for TV's 'family hour'?

Ethan_lAm I the only one who was aghast at seeing, just four minutes into last night’s premiere of 90210, two teens having oral sex in the school parking lot? Okay, we didn’t actually see a sex act, but we saw newly arrived Kansan emigré Annie spotting her old beau Ethan (Dustin Milligan, pictured) through the windshield of his parked car as he sat in the driver’s seat, and then we witnessed Annie’s horror as she saw his partner’s head popping up from below the dashboard. (This was the pilot episode’s "We’re Not in Kansas Anymore" moment — which, not coincidentally, was the episode’s title.)

Now, I realize the new 90210 has to make a splash on the CW, a network that also airs Gossip Girl (and in this regard, it seems to have succeeded, according to early ratings estimates, drawing better numbers than the GG season 2 premiere the night before and holding most of its audience for all two hours of the pilot). And I realize that the show’s creators must have wanted a "This is not your parents’ 90210" moment in there in order to seem cutting edge. (Even returning 90210 alumnae Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty told EW they found the moment shocking enough to make original 90210 producer Aaron Spelling spin in his grave.) Still, this scene was kinda gratuitous, no? For plot purposes, Annie needed to see Ethan cheating on his girlfriend Naomi, but spotting the illicit pair making out would have worked just as well, as illustrated later in the episode where Naomi seeks revenge merely by kissing Ethan’s lacrosse teammate. Besides, the offending incident aired just minutes after 8 p.m. (Or, for many viewers, 7 p.m.) Here’s a show clearly designed to attract both kids and their parents who watched the original show back in the Mesozoic Era 1990s, and here was a situation that would surely make both kids and their parents wince and squirm if they were watching together.

Am I being a Parents Television Council prude here? Is this really no big deal, just a matter-of-fact depiction of the way many teens start off their school day? Or were you taken aback as well? And do you think the shock tactics will continue past the pilot, or have the writers made their point, leaving only relatively tame content, in the vein of the pilot’s second hour, from now on?

addCredit(“Dustin Milligan: Michael Desmond”)


Comments (127 total) Add your comment
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  • Winona

    Considering that 90210 didn’t air until midnight in the Chicagoland market (stupid Cubs game), it wasn’t a problem here, time-slot wise. Honestly, you’re not being a prude – I already long for the comparatively innocent 90210 1.0.

  • GG

    It wasn’t only that, but also the language and the fact that they ran through a half season’s worth of episodes in 1/2 hour that was pretty disgusting.
    The second hour was better though.
    They are trying way too hard.

  • Huffybike

    I probably got somewhat too excited about the Brenda/Kelly reunion.

  • Huffybike
  • LisaMama

    I agree with you — totally and unnecessarily gratuitous.

  • Eric Friedmann

    I won’t pretend that “blowjob” TV bothers me; it doesn’t. Recycled material popping up on television and movie screens – that’s another story!

  • Lars

    I agree. Not necessary. I only hope that if parents were watching it with their kids, that they took the opportunity as what my mother would call a “teaching moment.” And seriously… where was the morning oral when I was in high school? I hardly think this is representative of the majority of American teens and if it IS, then this country never ceases to amaze me.

  • Sabrina

    “Here was a situation that would surely make both kids and their parents wince and squirm if they were watching together.” THAT’S the biggest issue, for sure! I think kids today certainly know of such things (moreso than we did watching the original back in the day)… but no, you’re not being a prude at all.

  • Nick

    dudes in high school get head nowadays. it’s reality. i thought it was funny.

    http://www.thelittlestwinslow.wordpress.com

  • joopiter

    You’re not being a prude. It was completely gratuitous and unnecessary, as well as being a blatant attempt to be as “edgy” as Gossip Girl. I think that’s the problem I had with the whole pilot – it wasn’t cheesy enough to be original flavor 90210 and not bitchy enough to be Gossip Girl. The result was a solid “meh”. I’m thinking I’ll only be watching through the Brenda episodes, and will turn it back on for the inevitable Dylan appearance around sweeps and I’ll get my 90210 fix from the SoapNet reruns.

  • Nee Nee

    No, you’re no prude. The original certainly pushed it’s own boundaries, but I agree, a makeout scene would have sufficed. I don’t want to see that. I don’t want to even think about what teenagers do to each other. That being said…I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot. It completely sucked me in (no pun intended).

  • Kathleen

    I forgot this was on last night and watched the rerun of House’s season finale. I’m out of my apartment and stuck at Dad’s for three days. If that had popped on while I was watching with him? I would have been mortified. Mortified. And I’m 32.

  • Anonymous

    I think the bigger issue is the scary anorexia of every major female character in the show. Not doing oral to your high school boyfriend is something that is easy to teach–self-esteem and anti-eating disorders is not. Producers of 90210–let those girls put some weight on.

  • Anonymous

    I think the bigger issue is the scary anorexia of every major female character in the show. Not doing oral to your high school boyfriend is something that is easy to teach–self-esteem and anti-eating disorders is not. Producers of 90210–let those girls put some weight on.

  • Crystal

    You are not a prude. 90210 should be something parents and teens can watch together – I don’t care if it’s 2008.

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