Discover more from TeenDramaWhore
The Origins of My Teen Drama Fandom
How I Became a TeenDramaWhore
The house is in on fire.
People are screaming.
Luke Perry’s gorgeous face is covered in ash and soot.
Wait, that’s not Luke Perry. It’s Jamie Walters.
What do I know? This is my first time watching “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
The year was 1994 and the episode was “Up in Flames.” I was hanging out at my aunt’s house with my cousin and I have no idea why “Beverly Hills, 90210” was on the television. It wasn’t a show my cousin — 9 years old at the time — regularly watched. Were we with a babysitter? I was only 7. But this is my earliest memory of “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
The show was in its fifth season then, but it wasn’t until season 6 (1995-1996), when I was all of 8 years old, that I recall becoming a regular viewer. I don’t know how it happened. But from then on, “Beverly Hills, 90210” was a part of my life. That meant appointment viewing week after week, writing to Jennie Garth, and scouring issues of Soap Opera Digest in the grocery store checkout line for any show-related tidbits. As the series finale approached in May 2000, I was even quoted in an article by legendary TV critic Marvin Kitman.
“The show taught me so many lessons," explained Shari Weiss of Garden City South, who is 12 and a junior high honor student, "and now when I have to deal with these major crises, I know the consequences.”
What did I know about crises at 12 year old? Well, I had already undergone heart surgery two years prior, missing a month of elementary school and being excluded from my friend group upon my return. Yes, I had been through some stuff. Not drunk driving like Brandon or love triangles like Dylan or drug addictions like Kelly or abuse like Donna, sure. But I lived through these characters… for better or worse.
In fact, I was so loyal to “Beverly Hills, 90210” that I was downright ANGRY when “Dawson’s Creek” began in 1998. I thought at the time, “What copycats!” Of course, little did I know Paul Stupin and Charles Rosin, both of whom were involved with the origins of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” were also involved with “Dawson’s Creek.” Within a few years, I became just as hooked on “Dawson’s,” even if “Beverly Hills, 90210” remained my number one (and still does).
Naturally, obsessions with “The O.C.” and “One Tree Hill” followed. My interest in “Gossip Girl” has never quite been on the same level and I’ve never made secret of my issues with “90210” (two topics I’ll be exploring in the weeks ahead). But altogether, these shows make up the core of what I call the “teen drama genre,” and they are the area of pop culture about which I’m most passionate. The love triangles. The tragedies. The soundtracks.
It’s no wonder bildungsroman is my favorite literary form. Coming-of-age stories have fascinated me since I was coming of age myself. Now 33, I remain 100 percent unashamed of my continued fandom. If being obsessed with teen dramas is my worst vice, well, that’s a pretty danger-free vice to have.
Arguably, the peek of my fandom was in 2008-2010, when I operated the original TeenDramaWhore.com. I connected with fellow fans across the world, interviewed the genre’s key players, and live-blogged new episodes of “One Tree Hill,” “Gossip Girl,” and “90210.” I wrote more than 1,500 posts, built a fan community that racked up nearly 4,000 comments, and deepened my love of teen soap operas.
The site’s name did get me into trouble a few times. When I sought an interview with Jackson Brundage (Jamie, One Tree Hill), his agent replied, “As much as we would like to consider having Jackson participate, the unfortunate name of your web site prevents that. We just don’t think any mom should have to explain to a 8 year old what the word whore means.”
I tried to explain exactly what was already stated on my site: Being a TeenDramaWhore, and the use of the word “whore,” has nothing to do with sex. There are video game junkies. Clothes horses. Shoe whores. Why can’t there be a TeenDramaWhore? When I interviewed James Lafferty (Nathan, One Tree Hill), he loved the name!
But I ran into a similar problem with AnnaLynne McCord (Naomi, 90210). AnnaLynne herself told me to reach out to The Blind Project, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit she was involved with, to schedule an interview. When I did, though, I was told the use of the word “whore” in my site’s name was a “conflict of interest for us” and they could not “commit to an interview.”
Apparently, the notion that I was desexualizing the word and actually using it in an empowering way was completely lost on them. Notably, it seems The Blind Project no longer exists.
But I am today — and forever will be — a proud TeenDramaWhore.