13 February 2012

1 solving problems with 90210: "there's nothing wrong with getting a little competitive edge"

today, class, we're going to be talking about steroids, as portrayed in the classic season 2 90210 episode, "a competitive edge."

there are things for which nothing less than video will do. i will hereby risk time in jail for copyright infringement because this is one of those things. 

listen to your oline: WATCH THIS (with sound)...

as illustrated in this opening montage of actors grunting their way through sports they do not play in real life, this episode's going to be about athletics, ya'll. 

(i would've liked to have pointed out that, in an episode entirely devoted to sports, the only black people we encounter are three men seen jogging across the field in the opening shot, but i photo-failed there so my doctoral thesis of "90210's depiction of track as the exclusive sport of privileged whites who take drugs" will have to wait.)

so, yo, what is happening here?

brandon's writing an article on the track team for the blaze, that's what...

incredibly tall coach to wee little brandon: "this year's team has a real shot of going All The Way."

steve is worried he's going to get cut from the team. 

he's also jealous that kelly's in love with kyle but what he doesn't know is that kyle is secretly gay and kyle told kelly this as they strolled together on the beach last summer. we are reminded of his confession in a foggy flashback...

now, let me set this up. ostensibly, 90210 was an ensemble cast and equal time was given to all it's actors. that's noble in theory, but in practice it never plays out. and so ahhhhhndrea and steve almost always get shafted in favor of the brenda/dylan or kelly/dylan or kelly/dylan/brenda or brandon/random-lost-soul-brunette plotline. but every now and again ahhhhhndrea or steve get an episode. 

this, my friends, is steve's episode. an episode where the writers give him some serious Themes and an opportunity to show his major acting chops. over his ten years on the show (and yes, ian ziering was one of the four principles who stayed from beginning to end), steve will get maybe five of these episodes. this is his first. look at him go.

very important subplot #1: brenda is learning to drive.

brandon writes his article on the track team and the track team is pissed. in a typically 90s way of coping with anger, they threaten to give him a wedgie.  

this is brandon walsh getting a wedgie.

this is ahhhhhndrea's face when brandon steps down from the paper to join the track team. 

seriously, aside from her being in love with brandon [which steve establishes as a widely known fact later in this episode when he and brandon are together in the meat locker [geez, how dirty does that sound?!]], how did ahhhhhndrea not have a boyfriend in high school? on the strength of that shirt alone. 

(ps: looking at the ten seasons of 90210, ahhhhndrea's narrative arc is hands-down the most frustrating aspect of the show. because it goes NOWHERE. ahhhhhhndrea was going to go away for the summer to some legislative thing and then she didn't. ahhhhndrea was going to go to yale and she didn't. ahhhhhhndrea was going to be a doctor and instead she slept with her RA and then suddenly there was, briefly, a smorgasbord of guys [well, two] before she got knocked-up and, shortly thereafter, left the show, thus reinforcing the stereotype of Smart Girls Sacrifice Their Hopes And Dreams For Stupid Boys And Then They Have Sex and Their Lives Go To Shit and Their Hopes And Dreams Die. GAH. after all she did to go to west beverly high- boldly defying the districting policies- the writers really gave her a crap storyline. moving on...)

brandon is psyched about the track team. he has new shoes.

since this is the sports episode, dylan makes a locker room cameo.

brandon just can't bulk up fast enough. he makes a joke about steroids and the guys are not amused because...

omg, the guys are taking 'roids?! 

steve is briefly skeptical and then says, ok, i will too.

because kelly doesn't want to be with me and my life is very sad. 

please note how steve's steroid usage is manifested in his more aggressive costuming. prone to hormonal violence, he has taken to wearing black leather. 

steve: "the big deal is that steroids are a serious business!"

brandon: "the big deal is that steroids are a DANGEROUS business."

steve: "if you use them in a limited way, all they do is give you a little competitive edge."

(the pencil behind brandon's ear is killing me.)

brandon: "they cause liver disease and sterility!" 

that's hot.

tight sweatpants is PISSED. he thinks steve's been talking to the press and word's gotten out that the whole track team's on 'roids. 

really important subplot #2: recycling. 
this is brandon crushing a can.

this is brandon sinking a three point shot to get the can into the recycling bag.

so brandon has written this article exposing how the whole track team is on steroids. he gives steve a heads-up.

steve's head looks ENORMOUS. i wonder, is this a side-effect of the 'roids?

steve is not pleased. (god, he deserved an emmy for all this Acting.)

neither is the track team. tight sweatpants and the guy who's going to be brenda's date next season for senior prom want steve to take the fall.

really important subplot #3: mr. walsh has a cold. thus, he has spent the entire episode wearing this obi won robe.

steve totally doesn't want to take the fall for the track team as he wasn't the one who blabbed to brandon about the drugs. he comes to brandon in the meat locker of the peach pit and begs him to reveal his source. 

steve: "i just wish things could be like they were before we got into all this competitive stuff."

ROID RAGEing, steve shoves brandon against a freezer.

steve threatens ahhhndrea and asks her to reveal her source. a journalist with integrity and a deep commitment to the west beverly blaze, ahhhhndrea refuses. (steve's head is still ENORMOUS.)

enter dylan...

this is steve's episode, so dylan's been off teaching brenda how to drive and he's out of the loop. steve fills him in...

dylan: "steroids?" 

dylan: "man, those'll shrink your gonads!"

locker room confrontation... (omg, men's workout clothes of the 90s = not good)

and...  CLIMAX!

kyle confessed! the track team is on probation! everything is solved! steve can stop wearing black leather!

friends again!


1 comment:

jmillewitz said...

I dunno, in the last shot tight sweatpants guys has changed to yellow sweat pants and is showing some tummy. Maybe he is the gay one (fashion sense obviously) and he just doesn't know it yet.

I'm so glad I watched this epi with you in Chicago, I totally knew what was gonna happen!