Dark secrets the cast of 90210 tried to hide

For the 10 seasons and 293 (!) episodes that it was on the air, perennial '90s soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210 showcased nearly every issue we can think of: sexuality, drugs, animal rights, teen pregnancy, infidelity, domestic violence, bad parenting. You name it! There was probably an episode arc about that. 

While nothing on set ever quite reached the fever pitch of "Donna's first time," "Kelly choosing between Dylan and Brandon," or "Dylan's wife getting murdered," the cast themselves did have a few "issues" of their own that they've slowly but steadily revealed in interviews over the years. 

Let's investigate who's been spilling the proverbial Beverly Hills beans. 

They were hired for reasons aside from acting abilities

Now-reality TV star Tori Spelling played the bumbling Donna Martin, who managed to both graduate high school and stay on the show for the entirety of its ten-season run. 

Spelling's father was none other than mega-producer Aaron Spelling, and 90210 was basically his baby. Since the show ended, Spelling herself has pretty much confirmed reports of nepotism when it comes to her being cast. She shared in 2000 that she had the sense that daddy dearest gave her a leg up (even if being his daughter meant her character couldn't lose her virginity until the seventh season), telling Entertainment Weekly, "I heard about the show from my agent. She said, 'Your dad is doing it.' I was like, 'I haven't heard anything about it.' I popped into his briefcase when he got home, and I was like, cool. I really wanted to play Andrea. I went in under a different name, then I got the part of Donna — which I'm sure had something to do with my dad."

If nothing else, at least she's honest.

They fought all the time

Though the promo materials were meant to give the idea that the Peach Pit gang was thick as thieves, things definitely weren't so rosy behind the scenes. 

Original cast member Shannen Doherty, who played Brenda Walsh, was the source of a lot of drama, reportedly never seeing eye-to-eye with Jennie Garth (who portrayed Kelly Taylor). Garth described what she perceived as the root of the conflict in her 2014 memoir Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde, writing, "[Shannen] had opinions about a lot of things, including the writing, the wardrobe, you name it. And she wasn't afraid to share them, even if it meant sounding like a complete and utter b****." 

According to Tori Spelling, things got so bad that Doherty even got into a physical fight with Garth (allegedly due to Doherty pulling Garth's skirt up during shooting). Spelling spilled the goods during her Lifetime special, describing how, "I could hear the door fly open and everyone screaming and crying… That's when I was told the boys just had to break up Jennie and Shannen. It was like a fistfight." 

In 2008, Garth elaborated on the tense on-set vibes, telling the New York Times, "There were times when it was worse than high school. The environment there was like: Are you kidding me? There was a lot of tension and unnecessary drama on the set, a certain amount of competition, and a certain — probably — anger about different salaries as the years progressed."


...and fought some more

When all was said and done, Doherty ended up leaving the show in 1994, when Brenda conveniently moved to London to become an acting student. 

Tori Spelling claimed in 2015 that she was actually responsible for Doherty's firing, because had she told her dad about all the bad behavior that was going down. She later expressed remorse at her involvement in the whole scenario to Lifetime, saying "I felt like I was a part of something, a movement, that cost someone their livelihood."

But Doherty's departure didn't exactly usher in an era of peace. Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, whose pot-smoking character Valerie was brought in during Season 5 to replace Brenda, told Howard Stern in 2012 about cast mate Jennie Garth, "We had a falling apart and we grew apart… I was the one who was hurt, let's just say that. I was the one who was hurt." And to add even more drama into the mix, Tori Spelling and TAT have an ongoing feud as of May 2017, allegedly fueled by Spelling's infidelity to her first husband, who is one of Thiessen's friends.

They also hooked up

It wasn't all teeth and claws on the set of 90210. In fact, as the years have ticked by since the series finale, a number of cast members have revealed that things got extremely friendly off hours (and we'd venture to guess, after dark). In his 2014 tell-all, aptly titled Jason Priestley: A Memoir, Jason Priestley described how "various combinations of people slept with each other over the years."

Priestley found love IRL for five years with actress Christine Elise, who played his on-screen girlfriend, the unhinged Emily Valentine. In his memoir, Priestley reflected fondly on their hook-up, noting, "I could not have asked for a more idyllic first love." 

Tori Spelling also spilled some serious gossip when she admitted in 2015 to having had sex with two of her co-stars, including Jason Priestley, and dishing on her long-term relationship with co-star Brian Austin Green. (For the record: Priestley has denied Spelling's allegations.) BAG also hooked up with his co-stars Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Vanessa Marcil (remember Gina?), with whom he (not so peacefully) has a son.

In case it's all too confusing, Bustle handily broke it down in 2015

They had some meltdowns

In 2015, Ian Ziering, who played the jockish Steve, admitted that in the early days of the show he indulged in some less-than-profesh behavior when a final cut of a scene didn't end up going quite his way.

In Season 4, Ziering was filming an episode in which Steve is accused of rape. But, Ziering explained, in the version of the episode that aired, "they edited out so much powerful stuff. That was like the first time I really got some great words to say and I work shopped them and I studied. I brought game, and it never even made it through the edit."

In true Steve fashion, Ziering had a complete meltdown and tore his dressing room apart.

They didn't think the show would be a success

Remember Brandon's dad Jim Walsh, played by James Echouse? Sure you do; he was always doling out tough love advice to Brandon and Brenda. As it turns out, Eckhouse wasn't so sold on the show in the early days, confessing to the New York Times in 2008 that, "Jason [Priestley] and I used to take bets every week as to when they'd pull the plug on us. Maybe another three weeks or four weeks? We thought, 'Forget it, this is never going to fly.'"

Eckhouse wasn't the only one harbored doubts about the show's longevity. Ian Ziering shared his initial misgivings with Entertainment Weekly in 2007, reflecting back that, "When I read the script for 90210, I thought, boy, this is very superficial, and it was… I mean, the pilot was all about the glitz and the glamour of Beverly Hills, the obnoxious kids, and the fish-out-of-water story of Brenda and Brandon Walsh."

Similarly, Gabrielle Carteris, who played newspaper woman and mom-type Andrea Zuckerman for five seasons (plus a couple "extra special" episodes), told Entertainment Weekly in 2000, "I remember watching the pilot, thinking, "This show is never going to make it. I guess I'll find a waitressing job." 

Luckily for her, she got to stay on and aimlessly pine away for Brandon for years. And years.

Sometimes they thought the plot lines were dumb

Even after the show got rolling and had found undeniable success, some of the cast continued to feel that the plot lines were basically straight up stupid.

Jennie Garth especially had early misgivings about her character, popular girl Kelly Taylor. In a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone, she revealed, "I hated my character… She was just so one-dimensional." She also noted that her attempts at pushing for more interesting stories had been mostly unsuccessful: "I've tried to get them to let Kelly get laid or shoplift, but they wouldn't go for it. It seems like we can never do anything bad. Bad things happen to us." 

Unfortunately for Garth, that trend didn't ever totally shift. In 2008, she reminisced to the New York Times about some especially standout moments: "The lesbian stalker was really ridiculous for me. And then the one where I got burned in the fire. I had to wear burn makeup on my neck and my face, and then it just magically went away one day. No scars whatsoever. I healed."

Even in the end, some cast members had hesitations about how their characters behaved. After (spoiler alert!) Kelly decided to start things up again with Dylan, Luke Perry, who played Dylan, aired his true feelings about how things went down, saying, "My guy was a lot of things, [but] stable wasn't one of them… If you're looking out for her in the long term, which is what you wanna do, then you gotta do that thing and fall on the sword and let your best friend have her and that's what my guy would do."

They didn't always leave on good terms

When Jason Priestley left the show in Season 9, he didn't exactly walk away with the best feeling about the whole experience. He told The Guardian in 2014, "It was so anticlimactic, it just left a bad taste in my mouth… It was the fourth episode of the ninth season. I did the first scene of the morning – literally with this actor who was brought in to replace me – and that was it. I hugged the crew, picked up my box of stuff, went to my car and drove away. There was no party, no nothing. I felt like I'd wasted nine years of my life." Yikes.

Furthermore, remember how actress Hilary Swank was on the show for a little while, playing Steve's girlfriend, Carly Reynolds? Well, she got fired (fired!) just 13 episodes into a 2 year contract, and she was admittedly "devastated." Luckily things seem to have turned out okay for her.

They hated the clothes

Nowadays, we watch 90210 in awe, charmed by the frankly incredibly ridiculous (but also kind of awesome) outfits that the cast rocked for 10 straight years. As Christine Elise (a.k.a. Emily Valentine) reminded us in a 2015 interview with Complex, "How about the mom jeans? On the boys! Jason [Priestley] in mom jeans!"

One cast member wasn't so thrilled with his sartorial assignations, however. In 2010, Brian Austin Green told Details, "I wore clothing that looked like outdoor f***ing umbrella material… I wore pants one time that had lifesavers on them. We had a wardrobe department that thought it was funny, as did I, to come up with the most ridiculous wardrobe."

They lied about their ages

Didn't you always find it a little weird that the mature-seeming Andrea Zuckerman, played by Gabrielle Carteris, was a high school student at the start of the show? Us too, which is why we ultimately weren't too shocked to learn that Carteris actually straight-up lied about her actual age in order to get cast. 

The actress explained it all to Access Hollywood in 2011, saying, "I actually talked to a lawyer about how could I sign these contracts and lie about my age and still be able to do the show. 'Is it OK?' And, 'Yes it is, as long as you just say you're over 21." 

So that's how a 29 year-old got to play a 16 year-old. Take note, Riverdale hopefuls.

Speaking of which, Ian Ziering also conveniently brushed over the issue of his actual age (28) when he signed on to play 16 year-old Steve. "I just kept my mouth shut. I never talked about it," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2007. "And I wasn't the oldest in the cast either. I just thought, if they're going to buy, I'm going to sell it." 

And sell it, you did, Ziering.

They dealt with anxiety

Once the show really took off, it all became pretty overwhelming from the sounds of it. The stars were basically getting mauled by fans left and right all over the world; as the ever-wise James Eckhouse put it in 1992, "The pressures on these kids are overbearing … When you're on a hit series, everybody wants a piece of you."

One cast member in particular suffered from the onslaught of attention. Jennie Garth shared in her 2014 memoir that as she became increasingly recognizable in public, her anxiety grew more difficult to manage. Garth wrote, "[S]imple tasks, like going to the grocery store, or the mall, or to get gas, became overwhelming exercises in having to be 'on' when my natural inclination was to shut down and not interact with anyone. I…began to suffer a level of anxiety that as, at times, nearly paralyzing. When the panic attacks started to kick in, I became even more withdrawn." 

Judging by her recent appearance on RuPaul's Drag Race, Garth was able to get over it.

Some sketchy stuff was going down on set

Even though—as the show memorably taught us via Brandon's brief foray into drugs due to the trickery of Emily Valentine in Season 2, Episode 15 "U4EA"—drugs are bad, in her memoir, Jennie Garth revealed that ultimately the cast could get whatever they wanted from the PAs on set. 

"They wouldn't have batted an eye if I asked for a bagel and a bump of coke, come to think of it," Garth writes, "But I usually just had coffee." 

Some had less than wholesome habits

Jason Priestley has admitted in recent years to partying pretty hard during his time on 90210, mostly "to prove that [he] was nothing like the sanctimonious Brandon Walsh." According to Vulture, he would "smoke and get drunk during every press interview."

Garth had some similar reflections on Priestley in her memoir, writing, "I remember my mom telling me to keep an eye on the guy with the potty mouth. He also smoked cigarettes back then."

Naughty, naughty. What would Jim Walsh say?