Timeless Television: Two Different Generations Mourn Luke Perry

By: Hannah Mayer (12th Grade)

Sophomore Ella Zaret was banging on her front door after arriving home one afternoon to find she had been locked out of her house. Attempting to see if anyone was home, Zaret looked through the window. Instead of finding a family member, she found breaking news on her television: Luke Perry had died of a stroke at age 52.

“Right away I was so shocked and so sad,” said Zaret, a fan of Riverdale and Beverly Hills 90210.

When Zaret told her mother that Perry had died, her mother broke into tears. They shared a cry together over their mutual love for Perry. Zaret had first discovered him as Archie Andrews’ father in the current show Riverdale and her mother had grown up watching Perry as bad boy heartthrob Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210 in the 90’s.

Even though the episodes were aired before most teenagers were alive, shows like Beverly Hills 90210, Friends, and Full House are enjoyed by today’s generation. These 30-year-old shows are still popular today, making lasting impacts on multiple generations. Popularity has endured so much that sequels such as Fuller House and 90210 were made years after the shows’ original endings.

What makes these shows stand the test of time? Some say their ongoing impact is due to the characters’ relatability and loveable personas that have captured audience’s hearts.

The ensuing mourning period following the death of Perry showed how many people he impacted, both as a character and as a person.

“My parents used to love the show 90210 and they loved the character Dylan,” said Dylan Del Giglio (12th grade). “He was a major factor in why I was named Dylan.”

On 90210, Perry’s character Dylan McKay is a mysterious loner, troubled by his dysfunctional family and rocky past. Dylan’s problems lead him down a dangerous path, but he pulls himself together with the help of his friends and on again-off again relationships with love interests Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor. Dylan is a perfect example of a character who audiences love, both because they are able to build a relationship with him and relate to him.

Dylan McKay is not the only beloved character shared by generations. D.J. Tanner from Full House and Rachel Green from Friends are two other favorites for audiences of all ages. Though Full House aired in 1985 and Friends aired in 1994, people born in the 2000s still watch them religiously and know everything about the characters.

“Full House was amazing. Everybody liked Joey because he was funny and Danny because he was a neat freak, but Uncle Jesse was just awesome,” Mendel Waks (10th) said.

Rachel Green of Friends is considered an iconic television character. She starts out as a spoiled rich girl living with five friends in New York City and transforms into a successful business woman. At first, audience members are laughing at Rachel’s impetuous character, but by the end of the show they are rooting for her as she eventually finds her own success in the business world. Anyone who is working hard to accomplish their dreams can relate to Rachel, who works her way up from an assistant and personal shopper to an executive for the famous brand Ralph Lauren.

While Friends provoked laughter, Beverly Hills 90210 tackled important issues that affect high school students. Before Beverly Hills 90210 no show had done such a thing.

“90210 was really groundbreaking in that sense because it was really the first time where the important real-world issues of teenagers were discussed. This was very true to life for the kids who were seeing this on TV for the first time,” said School Psychologist Dr. London.

Luke Perry not only played a beloved character, but he was an all around good guy who was nice to everyone. Beverly Hills 90210 was filmed at Occidental College. During her time as a student there, English teacher Mrs. Handwerger had several run-ins with the cast. Though most were friendly, Mrs. Handwerger recalled that Luke Perry’s kindness stood out.

“One time, I was at a club in L.A. where the cast was also having a wrap party after they had finished a season. Actress Tori Spelling was extremely intoxicated and she fell on top of me. I somehow managed to push her off and looked up to see a hand, and it was Luke Perry’s hand. He helped me up and apologized for his friend’s actions.”

Mrs. Handwerger experienced Perry’s kind nature firsthand. A multitude of celebrities have spoken out about Perry’s kindness and generosity towards everyone.

Perry is not only known for his long lasting stardom, but also for being a part of a groundbreaking television show.

When speaking about Beverly Hills 90210, Perry once told the New York Times, “I don’t think any of us had any idea what was going to happen with it and how long the impact of it would last.”

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