26 March 2012

3 solving problems with 90210: "when a girl dresses like a slut..."

[residual business from last week per the request of jmills... the bitchtastic thing brenda said to emily valentine that paled in comparison to "have a nice time at the gynecologist" but which nonetheless shocked everyone in the walsh's kitchen: "oh great a hootenanny... {emily: do you have a problem?} oh excuse me, i didn't mean to be rude! {emily: yes, you were} well, em. why don't you just go get your guitar and bring it in here and we'll all gather round and swoon... {emily: maybe you should just ask me to leave} oh and disappoint your fans? i wouldn't dream of it." see? not so bad. moving on...] 

keeping on our theme of sluts (because season 2 was apparently all about them) today, class, we're going to be examining portrayals of women who wear sexy dresses in the classic 90210 season 2 episode "halloween."

so we know this is going to be awesome because...

woo hoo! hell yeah! what you do not know (because i've spared you) is that we've just endured THREE whole episodes in which emily valentine didn't play a significant part. oh, the horror. but she's back now. 

i will also warn you, this is not one of our better episodes. the main plot (slutty dresses!) is provocative yeah, but in a season so laden with sluts, this isn't a stand-out, and the two subplots pretty much suck. plus, emily valentine's got a little while longer before she goes batshit crazy, so the work done in this episode is largely limited to character building. aside from slutty dresses, we've just got the coupling of brandon and emily valentine and scott's never-ending march to the grave i already put him in several weeks ago, all of which is kind of eh. 

that said, now that i've set your expectations ridiculously low...

what better way to get into the holiday spirit than this 40 second montage of demonic pumpkins?

are you there? are you with me? did you get chills? are you ready to be scared out of your fricking mind? does this help?


in case you haven't noticed, it's halloween. everybody loves halloween. except brandon walsh. he is not a fan. 

(please take note of ahhhhhhhndrea here as she will inexplicably disappear from the episode after this. i think she's busy taking these pumpkins everyone's carving to a children's shelter? maybe? maybe not. anyway, this is her big scene and she's a goner from here on out. tell me: will you miss her?)

important plot point #1: party at the old brownstone mansion! 

david's making discs. he is super-psyched about what this could mean for his love life. 

david: "i think i'm going to go to the party. half the girls in town are going to be there... dancing... to my tapes."

(this probably should've been a video, because i cannot put into words the salaciousness of the tone of voice in which david utters this line. i shudder to think what he's visualizing as he says it. certainly not women filing his toenails.)

scott (WHERE is his cowboy hat??? has he forsaken oklahoma???) is so not into this party. he wants to kick it like they did back in junior high, when they had epic egg fights. 

scott: "i'm going to the corner!"

david: "ARE YOU CRAZY? there's not going to be an egg fight this year!"

scott: "that's what the homeowner's association wants you to think... I LOVE DANGER! you don't kill a tradition just because a few cops are going to be patrolling."

(would that more people factored the conspiracies of homeowner's associations into their halloween plans.) 

speaking of the party at the old brownstone mansion... 

important plot point #2: emily totally wants to go but she wasn't invited. brandon was invited but he's not going to go because he's a scrooge who hates parties. 

brandon: "i hate parties. you go there to socialize then just stand around with a bunch of smoke and noise screaming at the people that you 'like' then you want to leave but you can't because you can't find the people you're supposed to go home with."

important plot point point #3: kelly and donna have been dumped. kind of. it seems more like they were just stood up as we've never ever heard mention of the two guys they were supposed to go to the party with who have now ditched them. but kelly takes it pretty hard. 

she tells brenda: "you and dylan already have like the best relationship at west beverly."

heaven help all the other relationships at west beverly if brenda and dylan's is the best. but then, this is kind of THE GREATEST THING EVER:

am i right?! it so is. would that once before i die a man would propose pumpkin-cutting in french.

omg, the gang totally need costumes! dylan, like brandon is not FEELing halloween. he tells brenda he isn't the dress-up type. 

dylan: "i don't need to dress up to have fun."

do you believe him? i do.

because she's just been dumped, kelly has decided to be sexy for halloween.

brenda makes major lips of disapproval and worries that her costume choice is too provocative. 

dylan exclaims upon finding a bonnie and clyde costume... 


this is hands down the most emotion dylan mckay has ever shown on the show thus far. 

at last! 'tis here! HALLOWEEN. 

inevitably, there's a full moon.

the walshes prepare their candy bowl. it is full of delicious... raisins. 

when brandon expresses his dismay, cindy walsh weighs in with her parental concern for the children of beverly hills. 

cindy walsh: "i just want to give them something a little wholesome."

jim walsh: "you know what they say... raisins are nature's candy!"

dylan is not impressed with the walsh family candy bowl. 

but he and brenda look SUPER HOT as bonnie and clyde. check out all that weaponry! and the chapeaux! smokin'.

donna, who already- just 30 episodes into the show- has a long legacy of impractical costuming, has come as a mermaid. this was supposed to be funny.

in reality, it is stupid. she cannot move because these are her feet...

why, donna? why? 

oh look, here's kelly!

isn't she classically beautiful? how pretty! but wait... why are all her friends looking at her like this:

could it be because her dress is doing this?

wow. so um... that slit's pretty high. 

brenda: "did your mom see you like this? i'm warning you, you're looking for trouble."


but kelly doesn't care. she's just been dumped! she's looking to have a good time!

meanwhile, donna is not having a good time. because she's wearing this stupid costume that prevents her from walking. so she just stands in the corner alone doing this:

(a brief digression re: the comedic talents of tori spelling... omg, do you love tori spelling? no, really, do you? because girl's got mad comedy skillz. i know you  maybe wouldn't necessarily know that from the ten seasons of 90210 or her brief appearance on saved by the bell or the reality tv things she does now, but have you ever seen so noTORIous? if not, stop reading right now and go watch it. no, really. DO IT. i'll be here waiting when you get done. because, much like jon hamm calling out kim kardashian, so noTORIous is an epic example of a celebrity providing commentary on celebrity culture. it is so good that it lasted for only 6 episodes on VH1. watch it. now.)

so donna's over in the corner spinning comedic gold and kelly's being hit on by randoms. 

steve comes to her rescue and warns her about the effect her dress is having on men. 

steve: "i have no problem with it. it just leaves nothing up to the imagination."

kelly: "steve, with you and me, it's all imagination."

oh yeah, david's at this party. the chicks are dancing to his righteous tunes. except his attempt to dance with a girl dressed like cleopatra totally bombed and then even kelly turned him down, so david's not so into the party as he once was. 

he encounters steve on the back porch and they reminisce about the halloween's of yore. david waxes nostalgic about the old egg fights but steve reminds him that they aren't in junior high anymore...

walking home, david is corralled by scott.

scott: "i though you were really going to rule at the party!"

david: "yeah, well i got ruled out."

they lay in wait for an epic egg fight that never transpires. 

brandon's at casa walsh frightening unsuspecting children with his unreasonably enormous teeth. 

except, whoa! who's that?

why, it's emily valentine. THIS IS SHOCKING. we did not expect to see her. it must be DESTINY that she has unknowingly wandered up to brandon's door. 

this guy wants to go for a drive with kelly. 

he has his dad's infinity and a bottle of whiskey. 

check out brenda there, lurking in the background, ready to pounce should kelly's morals collapse. 

but huzzah! kelly literally tells the guy to go drive off a cliff, and brenda and kelly are BFFs again.

brenda: "did you see the guy dressed as a feminine hygiene product?"

kelly hadn't, because she was too busy staring down this dude. 

they have a sexually loaded conversation over the punchbowl. 

lured by the feminine wiles of emily valentine and her combat boots, brandon decides to join her while she takes her twin niece and nephew trick-or-treating. brandon and emily do a total crap job of minding the kids and eventually lose them. 

they then do a total crap job of attempting to find the kids by merely standing four feet apart from one another and shouting "lauren! drew?" a million times at a not particularly loud volume. 

nothing's changed for donna...

steve comes over and makes the incredibly excellent point that she should stop dressing silly and just be herself because who she really is would be far more interesting to guys than this. 

they have a tender moment. 

i have mixed emotions about this moment. out of the context of the overall episode, it's really sweet. but, in an episode where the overarching point is that men are responsible for their own actions and that, by extension, women should be able to dress however they please, this comes off as patronizing here. it also suggests that women should dress to please to men, which is contradictory. if anything, this moment would've maybe been more effective had it been directed at kelly because, in contrast to steve's response to donna here, the gang's response to kelly is devoid of compassion and is instead all pursed lips and disapproval.  

fyi- this coupling never happens over the course of the 10 seasons, but i kind of wish it had. in fact, donna (much like ahhhhhhhhndrea) gets kind of shafted in the area of men. of the available principles, she only ever gets to date david. and while she does feature prominently in a later fantasy sequence with dylan, there's no other suggestion that she might've ever dated him or steve or brandon. in contrast, kelly dates ALL THREE OF THEM. my only point is that this seems unfair because, of all the characters, donna's genuinely the nicest. 

omg, lauren and drew are still lost!

omg, problem solved! they're found!

brandon and emily valentine seem just as bored as us by this incredibly lame plot device that was contrived solely to bring them together as a couple. 

scott and david are still waiting for the egg fight that's never going to happen. 

emily valentine and brandon drive by and emily makes a crack about how beverly hills totally sucks because where she's from (wild and crazy san francisco) they would've totally had egg fights on halloween. 

insulted by emily valentine, scott and david have an egg fight with brandon's car. 

donna has really got to pee. 

kelly is upstairs with cowboy. 

another shot of The Dress. 

let's talk... 

so this is totally what i would've expected from the women of brandon walsh's dreams. this is acceptable fantasy wear. not those corseted hotpants or the high heels on the beach, but this frock from the frederick's of hollywood witchwear line. 

as you may've noticed, it's... how shall we say?... crazy sexy? with one slit, that is a lot of leg. with two, it's twice as much. 


historical context is incredibly important here. this is 1991. if i were to generalize the preferred female anatomical part of 1991, it would undoubtedly have to be the swath from the neck of the femur to the pelvic brim (dear reader, THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS that you've been spared the image googling i just did to arrive at that statement).

exhibit a:

exhibit b:

exhibit c: historical precedent from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

but back to this...

one more note: right now we're confronted with the issue of kelly taylor's pelvic brim, but by season's end, the matter of slutty dressing will be pretty much null. on a rainy saturday afternoon in episode 26, donna martin will go out to stalk color me badd in a pair of red hot pants that leave her butt cheeks hanging out. an event that would not, i think, have happened had we not already solved the problem of slutty dressing here. 

so kelly's in a bedroom with this cowboy who has just locked the door and makes advances she does not like. 

kelly wants to leave. 

cowbody dude says that, based upon what she's wearing, she totally doesn't. 

this is brenda and donna walking in on kelly nearly being date raped (at which point, we find we're indebted to donna for wearing that silly costume that prevented her from being able to go pee until now). 

one of my absolute favorite moments in this episode occurs when, upon seeing kelly being attacked and stopping it, brenda runs to the door and shouts at low volume: "DYLAN, COME IN HERE! I NEED YOU!" as though dylan would be able to hear her over the beats of david's mixtape. 

but it's a tv show and so he totally does... 

steve's "i'm going to kill you" face is PRICELESS. 


cowboy: "when a girl dresses like a slut..."

steve for the win:

kelly: "i thought i was being all sexy dressing like this, y'know... look where it got me."

brenda: "i tried to tell you the dress was a little too much..."


while steve and dylan take care of cowboy, the girls immediately dive into an analysis of the situation, as though this were a real world confessional. 

brenda: "kelly you said 'no'"...

kelly: "i said 'no' too late... i was teasing him..."

donna: "then he should go take a cold shower!"

having taken care of cowboy, dylan returns to weigh in with a bit of wisdom worthy of the 35-year-old he is in real life...

dylan: "it doesn't matter how much of a magnet a girl turns on... a guy always has a choice of not making her do something she doesn't want to do."

whoa. righteous. 

emily and brandon are at the peach pit making eyes at each other and having a mind-numbingly boring conversation about going to the brownstone party as a couple pretending to be them. emily says that people will be really impressed with their masks. brandon says he's already pretty impressed with her's. 

are you vomiting? i'll give you a moment to collect yourself, because i want you to remember this scene later, so you can revisit this moment with me and, in hindsight, we can place it properly in the larger scheme of The Future Emily Valentine Shit That's Going To Go Down.


so brandon waxes on philosophical about destiny, because he believes that it was destiny that brought emily valentine to his house that halloween. 

oh but wait. emily admits that she knew where brandon lived and she knew he'd be home due to his aforementioned hatred of parties and so she rigged their meeting. alas, it wasn't destiny! it was emily valentine! hmmmmm...

brandon: "you're weird, but i like that." (do you, brandon? really? like, in the long-term?)


much as i love emily valentine for analytical purposes- girl brings The Drama- i deplore this coupling. mostly because of The Future Emily Valentine Shit That's Going To Go Down, but also because i just plain don't buy it. even knowing that christine elise and jason priestly dated for forevers in real life, they are not believable here. she seems bored by him and it seems like he's just deigning to be with her because he won her in that love duel with dylan. 

anyway, back to the brownstone mansion. steve hopes kelly's ok. she thanks him for defending her. 

they have a moment. 

brandon and emily valentine show up ready to party just as everyone's about to leave. 

fyi- once someone's been nearly raped, a party's pretty much dead. 

they all decide to go to the peach pit. 

the end.

90210: problems solved previously...
"there's a name for a girl like her... SLUT."
"guns aren't toys... they're WEAPONS."
"this isn't about the color of people's skin... it's about gunshots."
"you can't just seduce a girl in her car... can you?"
"there's nothing wrong with getting a little competitive edge"
"i know your dad got blown away, but this isn't the answer, man."


jmillewitz said...

As always, an excellent analysis, however I have to admit, this is one of my favorite and most memorable episodes from my childhood for the following reasons:
1. I LOVE Halloween, and any episode with this theme.
2. Bonnie and Clyde look so awesome. They are bad asses.
3. I secretly wanted to be the kind of sexy witch that Kelly was.
4. It was the moment I believed deep in my heart that Dylan McKay was my dream man.
5. and finally, ahhhhhdrea was not in it.

jmillewitz said...

BTW - Now I feel I have to show off my "neck of the femur to the pelvic brim" in order to be truly sexy.

Barbara said...

OH! These so make my day! I so vividly remember watching and thinking how SCANDALOUS! :)