Niki Tehranchi
by Niki Tehranchi

For those of you who grew up teeny-boppers or teen-agers in the 90s, the Aaron Spelling created TV series Beverly Hills 90210 was the Brady Bunch of our generation. You could not miss one episode and risk falling behind whether Brenda and Dylan had broken up again or if Kelly Taylor was going to be voted prom queen. The series had enormous success aroud the world, not only in North America, triggering a fan frenzy wherever the cast went. Even to this day, all of the actors are better known for that series than any of their other work. Critically speaking of course, it was a joke. But what do you expect of fluff teen-aged fantasy ? Aaron Spelling basically transported the Love Boat onto Rodeo Drive, sprinkled a dash of Charlie's Angels and injected a dose of Father Knows Best. Voila! Another TV hit! And it had the bonus of launching his own daughter, Tori Spelling's career as an actress.

One thing that always stood out for me and my friends back then was: Where the heck are all the Persian Peeps? After all, Beverly Hills has about 40% population Iranian immigrants, if I am not mistaken. Granted the show was equally discriminating to all races. They had a black family on one special episode never to be seen or heard from again (featuring a young Vivica Fox, of Kill Bill fame). They also featured a Latina waitress on one show. That's basically it. The rest was about as white washed as it gets. Around the same time of the series, one of my favorite directors Amy Hckerling decided to make a movie, anthropology-style, of Beverly Hills high schoolers, called Clueless.

Heckerling had previously explored the high school rituals of the San Fernando Valley in the very entertaining High Times at Ridgemont High. Sean Penn made his BEST turn as an actor there as Jeff Spicoli, I don't care what others say. The rest of the cast was great too, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, a very young Phoebe Cates and Forest Whitaker.

While High Times at Ridgemont High was by turn comical and heartbreakingly sad, with Clueless, Heckerling adopted a frothy, lightweight tone for her satirical take on the world of Bev Hills. My friends and I did not expect it when the movie suddenly featured for a few precious seconds some Iranian students at the fictional Bev Hills high school, all clad in chic Bergdof-Goodman black and chatting on giant cell phones (hey it was the 90s) with the immortal line: "These are the Persians. They don't talk to you unless you drive a BMW." Listen, if you are in a desert, you will drink camel pee, and we lapped it up. Finally, we had been mentioned, we Persians, in that hallowed constellation of stars made up of Alicia Silverstone and... well no one else that famous.

Which brings me to today when, after weeks of rumor that the CW network is planning to start a revamped version of the classic, campy series 90210, news of the new plot and characters have leaked out and guess what? Among the necessary alcoholic ex-movie stars, and dumb jocks, they are finally going to feature a recurring character who is... drumrolls... Iranian! Woop-ti-doo! His name is Navid Shirazi and he is described as a student who produces the high school's student-run TV and is a consummate "politician."

I am pushing on the rewind button back to when I was fourteen and I am definitely tuning in! Diss, I gotts to see :-)


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