I am from Peru, so I get to be mad at this cultural caucaciousness and deafness of tone.
This week, Fox aired the latest episode of BH90210, its limited meta-heightened reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210, an ep that was so preposterous. On this Aug. 21 installment, meta Tori Spelling travels to “Peru,” as the IRL actress put it when she teased the show on Instagram, in order to find meta Shannen Doherty, the historical and meta-fictional perennial hold-out for any sort of reunion. See for yourself (this is the only official clip I could find of the episode in question to show, not simply tell):
Winks and nods to the storied and yellow-pressed history of the OG cast (their friendships, and, to the relish of some, their bad blood) are piecemeal on this take on the reboot genre. It’s all. So. Meta! And in on the joke.
Well, I’m not. The reality that BH90210 is serving to audiences at home here in America and all around the world, however irreverent, is crucially important. Lest you forget, Beverly Hills, 90210 was a fairly global (and ingratiating and alluring) phenomenon. How the show portrayed my home country was cringey.
I mean, what is that language that actor playing Doherty’s spiritual guide is made to speak? Is that supposed to be Quechua? Is it really Quechua? I dunno. I only know this much Quechua: Ama quella. That means, “Don’t be lazy” – which is precisely what the set-up to the aforementioned green-screened reunion was: beyond-lazy.
Picture it: A location somewhere in SoCal, disguised to look like a small, impoverished South American village, so like, an underdeveloped reality diametrically opposed to the 90210; assorted brown-skinned people over-stylized in culturally inappropriate garb meaninglessly populating the dirt-roadside mercado at which Spelling arrives, in full white-tourista mode, to find Doherty, who is Peru (all of it – they did not even bother with naming a city…any city) looking to find a higher level of consciousness.
[EYE ROLL, PLEASE]
It’s like, no one flagged any of these clichés before or during production? No one. Really? I’m surprised, given Hollywood’s efforts to diversify in front and behind the camera.
The whole thing felt so reductive and unresearched and unfun to watch as a Peruvian. I get the whole thing. I’m not completely humorless. Representation matters, though.
Peru doesn’t exist in between air quotes. Our people and culture are very real. Thank you for knowing we have all the llamas and for putting them all over this bit of the show (and for loving them so much – la gente en California se afana por la llamas). But, next time, try harder, Hollywood.
Next time, ama quella, indeed.