90210 used a tried and true formula for entertainment. Take a fish out of water story, set it in California, show rich people having drama, and populate the show with pretty teens. I could not stand the show when it first aired. Then it grew on me. Jennie Garth always had my attention, and I always hoped for a fight for someone to kick the shit out of Luke Perry. I would never tell anyone I watched the show, and I was not a big fan, but I would leave it on if I turned to it. Does this make sense?
I'll admit a big part of my draw to this show was the female cast. It might have been the loss of Shannon Doherty and addition of Tiffani Amber Thiessen, formerly of Saved by the Bell, Kathleen Robertson, Alyssa Milano, and Vanessa Marcil, with cameos by other young starlets. I was a teenage boy, and this show was in my strike zone when I put it on mute. This was and is a murderer's row for me.
The second key was the development of unintentional comedy on the show. Things became more ridiculous as time went on. Jennie Garth got hooked on drugs or slept with a professor. Luke Perry would be a bad boy and win fights. Gabrielle Carteris was 40 and playing a high school kid. Ian Ziering acting. He switched between terrible and awesome every other scene. Despite a receding hariline that somehow stopped fading in 1996 and a horrible decision to star in Skinemax fare, Subliminal Seduction, he still has a career. The show had unbelievable plots, and ridiculous turns. Fox had to make Melrose Place even worse just to give 90210 cover. Hardly a Luke Perry scene would go by without me laughing out loud. The guy could not talk above that "forced whisper like he is pooping" level.
Luke Perry's character and acting always bothered me. I was always hoping for someone to kick the shit out of him or for him to get in a car accident and be written off of the show. It might have been because he was such an unrealistic character, and Luke Perry is an awful actor. Atrocious. He had maybe 3 facial expressions, and most of them looked pained. Had they cast someone with a shred of acting ability, it might have helped the show, as they were weak when it came to male characters. Jason Priestley left early, and they were stuck with the Ziering. If they had a true male lead, the show could have aged better.