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Teen Drama Reunions & Retrospectives
All TeenDramaWhores want the same thing: More of their favorite teen dramas! But while we may not be able to get more episodes, sometimes we’re lucky enough to be treated to reunions and retrospectives.
“Beverly Hills, 90210” actually started doing some special episodes and retrospectives while it was still in its heyday. “Beverly Hills, 90210: A Christmas Special” aired in 1994, “The Best Moments of Beverly Hills, 90210” came in 1996, and “Beverly Hills, 90210: Our Favorite Moments” followed in 1998.
Though no other teen drama did as many specials as “Beverly Hills, 90210,” they more or less became a staple of the genre. The show, which set the blueprint for so many things, also kick-started reunions too. All of these programs were designed to walk fans down memory lane… and now I’ll attempt to do the same right here!
Beverly Hills, 90210
“Beverly Hills, 90210: The Final Goodbye”
Exactly one week before the series finale aired, the cast reminisced in this tribute about the show’s incredible 10 seasons. There was plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, including from the final days of filming — and some scandal too. Shannen Doherty’s face was blurred out in the special’s final image (of the characters in season 2’s “Camping Trip,”), leading fans to wonder if the actress was being dissed because of the controversial way she left the show years prior. In actuality, Doherty’s rep revealed she didn’t sign the release for her image to featured.
“Beverly Hills, 90210: 10-Year High School Reunion”
Airing in 2003, this special was timed to the 10th anniversary of the characters’ high school graduation in 1993. The reunion took place in a recreation of the Walsh living room, and this time Doherty did participate. However, Tori Spelling and Brian Austin Green notably did not. It was said at the time that they wanted to “move on” from the show. Nearly a decade later, a lot has changed…
“Entertainment Weekly Cast Reunions: Dawson’s Creek”
In honor of the show’s 20th anniversary in 2018, Entertainment Weekly brought the cast back together for an extensive photo shoot, interview and streaming special. There were five collector covers of the magazine (one with James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, and Michelle Williams; one with just Van Der Beek; one with just Holmes; one with just Jackson; and one with Williams and Busy Philipps). Sadly, though, feelings were hurt when Mary-Margaret Humes and John Wesley Shipp were not asked to participate in the reunion.
“The O.C.: Obsess Completely”
More than a month before the season 2 premiere, FOX rekindled fans’ interest with two weeks of specials. This one looked at the show’s origins and examined the hysteria surrounding the series’ first season.
“Welcome to The O.C.: A Day in the Life”
The second special, airing a week after the first, offered more or less what the title promised: It took viewers behind the scenes for “a day in the life” of filming different episodes. The program also previewed season 2.
One Tree Hill
“One Tree Hill: Always & Forever”
Right before the series finale, The CW aired this one-hour retrospective. Creator Mark Schwahn was featured substantially, roughly five years before it was revealed he sexually harassed multiple cast members and that filming the series wasn’t as delightful as this special suggested. Notably, Hilarie Burton, one of Schwahn’s main victims, did not participate in the program, but neither did Chad Michael Murray and a few other former series regulars.
“‘Tis the Season: A One Tree Hill Cast Reunion”
Burton seemed to be the brains behind this Lifetime special, which lacked not only Murray, but also Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Lenz, and James Lafferty. It was more of a silly cast get-together than a meaningful look back at the show, and it aired right after The Christmas Contract, which starred Burton and other “One Tree Hill” cast members.
“Gossip Girl: Revealed”
Amidst the show’s first season and the writer’s strike, The CW aired this special in hopes of drumming up interest in the series, which hadn’t yet popped. It essentially consisted of a reairing of the pilot paired with cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. It kicked off a weekly rerun of all the episodes that had aired thus far before new installments picked back up.
“Gossip Girl: XOXO”
In the hour before the series finale, The CW followed in its “One Tree Hill” footsteps by airing this “Gossip Girl” retrospective. The special looked back at the show’s six seasons and its impact on pop culture. Even though its audience had greatly diminished by this point, its place in television (and teen drama) history was undeniable — so much so that I wrote an apology to creator Josh Schwartz in 2020 for underestimating the series.
The CW’s pre-series finale retrospectives continued with this special that aired before the final episode of “90210.” Like the “One Tree Hill” and “Gossip Girl” editions, the program featured clips and BTS moments from years past mixed with cast interviews.
“90210 REUNION... THE GANG IS BACK TOGETHER!”
This is the most informal and unofficial of the bunch, but it didn’t feel right omitting it. In 2020, Shenae Grimes brought much of the cast back together, remotely, for a reunion they filmed Zoom-style and shared on YouTube.
“ET Presents… 9021OMG! The Cast Tells All”
Later in 2020, “Entertainment Tonight” put together this special, which was released on CW Seed less than 24 hours after it was announced. The title certainly raised eyebrows (or at least my eyebrows), as “9021OMG” is also the name of Spelling and Jennie Garth’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” podcast, which debuted a few weeks before. This was more retrospective than reunion, as the only cast members physically together were Grimes and Matt Lanter, while some were missing entirely.
There have also been some smaller-scale reunions over the years, like a few “Beverly Hills, 90210” cast members participating in FOX’s 25th anniversary special (for the network, not the show). Besides The Christmas Contract, the stars of “One Tree Hill” have teamed up for a few other movies and fan conventions (including one taking place this November), and Grimes, Lanter and AnnaLynne McCord got together to film themselves rewatching the “90210” series finale.
I said above that all TeenDramaWhores want more of their favorite teen dramas. For me, it’s actually more nuanced than that. I don’t want just anything. As I’ve already explained, I’m strongly against spinoffs, reboots, and revivals. But what I will take are genuine reunions, a la the one the “Friends” cast did in 2021. In the meantime, though, the “9021OMG, “Welcome to the OC, Bitches,” “Drama Queens,” and “XOXO” podcasts are treating us to audiovisual reunions on a fairly regular basis.
Tell me: Which reunion is your favorite and which cast do you want to see formally reunite for a retrospective next?