“Beverly Hills, 90210” is the latest 90s pop culture phenomenon to get the unauthorized Lifetime movie treatment.
Their take on “Saved by the Bell” came with scathing reviews while “Full House” fared much better. For the network’s take on the 90s premiere teen soap, they focused primarily on the drama behind the scenes with Shannen Doherty (Samantha Munro) and inter cast hookups — both of which have been well documented by the actual cast’s memoirs and interviews.
How much of Doherty’s antics were true to life and how much were dramatized for the Lifetime audience’s entertainment? Zap2it is here to help sort through the fact and fiction.
The Shannen Doherty Drama:
The vast majority of drama of “The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story” comes from cast tensions with Shannen Doherty, who famously left the show in its fourth season. Case in point, the movie ends after Doherty’s exit just as Tiffani Amber-Thiessen (Alyssa Lynch, “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell” story) joined the cast. Here’s what could be verified from the movie’s claims.
- Shannen Doherty and Jennie Garth did feud: Garth admits that the actresses fought often on set, and there were time when they wanted to “claw each other’s eyes out.” However, in their adult lives the two have become friends. They even went on a girls’ trip to Vegas to see Ian Ziering as a Chippendale in 2013.
- They red dress scuffle: While there’s no explicit mention of the Season 2 promo photo blowout over who would get to red dress, the original photo does show Garth and Spelling in red while Doherty is looking stoic in black.
- There was a fight: Tori Spelling wrote in her memoir that there was a fist fight between Doherty and Garth, but Garth later corrected it never got that far. In Garth’s description of the event, Doherty pulled Garth’s skirt up during a scene, exposing her backside to the entire crew. Garth then said, “Come on, b****. We’re taking this outside.” Luckily Priestly and Perry were there to pull them apart before they could “kill each other.”
- Doherty was arrested for battery: The bar fight happened as well, except in the real event Brian Austin Green was confronted by a woman, Bonita Money, for stepping on her boyfriend’s toes. Doherty then got into a shoving match with Money and both were arrested for battery and issued a citation. Both Green and Money’s boyfriend avoided the fight and thus escaped charges.
- Doherty’s firing was much quieter: Garth also reveals that there wasn’t a big meeting or announcement that Doherty was leaving the show. The actors showed up to work one morning and her name was no longer on the call sheet — at which point Garth immediately made claims on Doherty’s dressing room.
What else they got right:
- Luke Perry was paving roads before “Beverly Hills, 90210”: Luke Perry had success before “Beverly Hills 90210” with day time soap operas and various odd jobs, but to pay the rent between acting gigs he was a construction worker, paver and chauffeur. It’s also true he originally read for the part of Steve Sanders.
- Gabrielle Carteris lied about her age: Gabrielle Carteris lied about being 29 when she auditioned for the role of Andrea because she was afraid she was too old to be considered for the part. A magazine ended up outing her by finding her DMV records, but the show was on the air long enough they didn’t fire her.
- Jason Priestly really did live with Brad Pitt: While it’s hard to say if Priestly really received the “Thelma & Louise” script for Brad Pitt, the two were roommates when first starting out in Hollywood.
- Tori Spelling auditioned under a fake name: That’s also true, though there are mixed reports on how long it took producers to find out that she was actually Aaron Spelling’s daughter.
- Tori Spelling and Brian Austin Green did date: Tori Spelling admits in a recent interview that she slept with then-boyfriend Brian Austin Green while filming the show, and one other cast member, giving weight to the idea there was a lot of hooking up behind the scenes of the show.
- Brenda’s virginity loss did require an “apology” episode: Slate.com recounted “Beverly Hills 90210’s” iconic first season and confirms that Brenda losing her virginity and being proud of it was met with angry letters from parents. In response the show gave Brenda a pregnancy scare and had her breakup with Dylan because it was too risqué to have a teenage girl have sex and not feel bad about it.
What they left out:
- Donna Martin masturbates: While the Brenda virginity debacle is covered over three scenes in the movie, they make no mention of the iconic “Donna Martin Graduates” episode, where the students of Beverly Hills High protest to let Donna graduated after she was caught being drunk at prom. While filming the scene the cast was actually yelling “Donna Martin masturbates”, despite the directions of a frustrated director.
- Everything after Season 5: “Beverly Hills 90210” continued until 2000 for a total of ten seasons, meaning the unauthorized story skipped out at the halfway point.