Tuesday

in memoriam

Okay. So today seems to be about sharing news stories, but such is life sometimes. Especially when waiting to hear that your loan has funded so you can get keys to your new house.

Anyway, Aaron Spelling passed away last Friday. I know he didn't bring us any high art, but he brought us enjoyable television. So now I not only mourn the end of Charmed, but I must also mourn the possibility that I won't find anything to replace it.

But here I would like to share this tribute from Slate:

Aaron Spelling's Art
The man who gave us 90210 and Models Inc.: an appreciation.
By Troy Patterson

In the five decades before his death on Friday--at age 83, from complications from a stroke--TV producer Aaron Spelling put together a resume that should rightfully secure him a place as one of the most successful American artists ever. It seems likely that his only possible rivals as a purveyor of pop are George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, but what, exactly, was his art? Are there any rooms in America that you will not get laughed out of for suggesting that there might be a thematic or aesthetic coherence among Beverly Hills 90210, Charlie's Angels, Charmed, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, Hotel, The Love Boat, Starsky and Hutch, T.J. Hooker, and 7th Heaven? Is there even any thematic or aesthetic content in most of those shows? Can you draw a line from Hart to Hart to Melrose Place? And how awesome was Models Inc.?

Quite awesomely bad, if I remember correctly, with some excellent catfights and tantrums tossed into the mix. That the show was a dud while the prime-time soap it was spun off of, Melrose Place, endures as a cultural touchstone says more about the fickle tastes of the public than any lapse of taste on Spelling's part. That's because he had no taste. Aaron Spelling shows exist out of the range of such categories as "lowbrow" and "trash" and "brain-numbing twaddle." Their pleasures are perfectly sincere and dementedly campy at once. As a teenager, I watched Beverly Hills 90210 with great avidity, hopefully identifying with Jason Priestley's Brandon and scanning for stray clues on how to conduct my life; shortly thereafter, I spent an untellable number of hours in a college TV room watching Melrose "ironically," delightfully groaning along at its absurdities, especially once Kimberly entered her Gothic phase. (I suspect that many members of my generation have the aural imprint of Heather Locklear's signature command—"My office. Now!"— stamped on their frontal lobes.)

I don't bring up the bewigged and pyromaniacal Kimberly, played by Marcia Cross, for nothing: Desperate Housewives would be unthinkable without Spelling having pointed the way to a certain kind of glow-in-the-dark soap—something racy (but not salacious), dangerous (but never too heavy or too dark for its time), and perfectly, escapistly hermetic. That both the girl-power witch drama Charmed and the family-valued 7th Heaven emerged as cult hits in recent years has a bit to do with the fact that they each conjure up a world that is full and complete. They're as sealed off from real life as the guests on Fantasy Island, or the crew of The Love Boat while she's a-sea.

Among a certain set, the 200th episode of that singular nautical series is revered as a cultural touchstone. That's the one where Andy Warhol, playing himself, boards the Royal Princess in search of something exciting and new. Of course Andy loved the Boat: It was as naive as kitsch and as cute as a cookie jar and all surface. Could Warhol be Spelling's truest peer? They shared a revolutionary knack for the deeply superficial.

3 comments:

FoxyJ said...

I loved 90210 when it first came on. Of course, I was in junior high so it seemed like the coolest show ever. And Dylan was so hot...

eleka nahmen said...

This is totally tangential to the subject matter, but everybody knows you but ME, Edgy - everybody!

I was dining with a dear friend of mine and his significant other this evening, and conversation turned to a particular set of individuals with whom I hear you have associations (never having the privilege to witness said associations myself, such things are mere heresay, of course). So I say to Dear Friend and Significant Other, "OH, do you by chance know Edgy?"

Yes, yes they do know Edgy. Thoroughly delightful fellow that Edgy is. I really should meet him sometime - I would like him.

Two more to add to the list of Individuals Who Are NOT Eleka But Are So Privileged To Have Delighted In Edgy's Presence.

Fix it!

Rachel said...

So, I've been wondering. Are you done mourning yet? So you can post again? It's been a really long time. Like... Two weeks long time. About.