The news that 90210 has already been picked up for a full season is kind of a surprise, since it’s the first positive piece of news we’ve had about this show since it premiered. From the big drop-off in week 2 ratings to the news that people have been noticing how dangerously thin the female leads are (in what might be called reverse Facts of Life syndrome, the network is asking the girls to eat more), it seemed pretty clear that this show did not live up to the expectations the CW had for it — granted that the CW expected it to justify the network’s existence, and nothing can do that. While I didn’t think the network would just stop it after 13 episodes, since that would be the equivalent of admitting to the whole world that they’re doomed, I didn’t think they’d make quite such a strong and instant commitment to the show; but that’s just what they’ve done, by making it the very first show to get a “back 9” order.
Now, all of the CW’s shows do better when you factor in DVR viewing, so the ratings for 90210 don’t tell the whole story; and the third episode did well enough with the viewers the CW craves (young women) that they probably have reason to believe that it will do better than anything they could put in its place. Still, I’m not encouraged by the approach the network seems to be taking, which is essentially to act as if this show is everything it promised to be. If another, less-hyped show had as many obvious flaws as this one, the network would be pushing much harder to fix and re-tool it, and instead it looks like the CW is doubling down: their newest hire for the show is Rebecca Kirshner, another former Freaks and Geeks writer (like the current showrunners) who specializes in the exact kind of writing that has made the first few episodes so bland. I still think this show needs an injection of Aaron Spelling-style melodramatic hijinks if it’s to survive, but the network appears to be convinced that the wise-ass, bantery style of the pilot is working for them. Maybe they’re right, but I predict they’re not, and if I’m wrong, everybody will have forgotten about this post by then.