Beverly, 90210 was an indelible part of the '90s pop culture landscape, and now the cast is returning for a revival of sorts, titled BH90210. It's both metafictional and a celebrity send-up: the main cast members' real selves blend with their 90210 fictional counterparts as they deal with family and financial drama, all while longing for the heydays when they were Hollywood darlings. The revival is comedic and satirical, but underpinning the whole project is an awareness that while this is a reunion, one key member of the gang is missing: Luke Perry, who played the iconic, sensitive, bad boy Dylan McKay. While there is a lot going in the pilot episode, the BH90210 premiere is ultimately a heartfelt tribute to the late Luke Perry, from beginning to end.
Perry passed away on March 4, 2019 after suffering a massive stroke, and many were shaken by the loss. That BH90210 is airing now, months after his death, makes the show particularly emotional and resonant. Perry, after all, was one of the first cast members to float the idea of a 90210 reunion, but Gabrielle Carteris said that at that time, “people weren’t ready to go back."
So Perry dropped it, but he never forgot about getting the gang back together. At New York Comic Con 2018, Newsweek reports that Perry talked about how he actually pitched the Riverdale creators an idea of how to work a 90210 reunion into an episode of Riverdale. "I have talked to them about a way to do that. I would actually love it," Perry said. Perry's dedication to honoring the show — and reuniting with the actors he spent many formative years with — clearly never faded.
With Perry's passing, the significance of BH90210 becomes even greater. He may not be in the revival, but his legacy is felt throughout. Here's all the moments in the first episode that pay tribute to Perry.
The Opening Convention Floor Reunion
The first (indirect) reference to Perry happens when the cast all run into each other in the convention hotel lobby. "I like that the anniversary brought us together. I can't believe that we're all here," says Carteris excitedly, as they all hug.
"I wish that were true," says Jason Priestley suddenly, and the rest of the cast turn somber and quiet. It's a subtle moment, but that speaks to the fact that the IRL actors are still very much grieving.
Tori Spelling's Dress Speech
After Spelling has it up to here with the fan convention, she steals one of Donna's dresses on display and the cast all make a run for it. On Brian Austin Green's plane, Spelling manages to squeeze into the dress, and she comes out from the bathroom to give a tipsy, but emotional speech.
"This dress belongs to all of us. Because this symbolizes everything that we created together." She points at everyone in the plane. "You, and you. And me, and Shannon, and Luke," she says, as everyone's eyes tear up. "We're not all going to be here forever. But we made something that will be."
"To Luke," Ian Ziering says, and they all raise their glasses.
Shannon Doherty's Presence
This isn't so much as an in-episode tribute as a background fact. Fans may be surprised that BH90210 includes Doherty, who left 90210 in 1994, reportedly due to offscreen drama with the cast and crew. Doherty was indeed against participating in the reunion at first, but changed her mind after Perry's death.
"When Luke passed away, I looked at it quite differently: more from the perspective of honoring Luke, his memory, and through a show that he was an integral part of," Doherty told Variety. "What an opportunity to be given for us all to band together, be around each other while we mourn and grieve the loss of someone who mattered to all of us deeply."
Jennie and Tori Watch An Iconic Dylan Scene
The final tribute involves Spelling and Jennie Garth watching 90210 at Spelling's home. Spelling, who is stressed due to her reality TV show being canceled (and her husband being a bit of a scrub) looks at the rerun and gets the idea to do a 90210 reunion, in a mirror of the very show we're watching.
Garth isn't sure at first. "What is that thing that guy said? You can't go home again," she says.
"But maybe you can. Maybe going back is just what we all need to move forward," Spelling says. They both look at the screen, teary-eyed, as Perry's Dylan Mckay pulls up in his sleek black Porsche. It's one of the earliest scenes of Dylan on the show, where fans first meet, and naturally fall in love with, the brooding but sensitive teen heartthrob.
"Welcome to paradise, man," Dylan says to Brandon. "Welcome to your dream come true." The episode ends on Perry's effortless, timelessly cool smile. In the end, Spelling hinging her decision to kickstart a 90210 reunion while watching Perry's performance feels like the best and most poignant way to honor the late actor.