On Luke Perry

Confession: I’ve had “publish block” with this blog. Not writer’s block – I have plenty of ideas, and indeed several drafts of posts. But I can’t seem to hit publish, which we’ll dissect at another time. Because today I’ve at least temporarily scaled that wall, and all because of the loss of Luke Perry.

Luke Perry’s dead. What the hell is happening?!

I sobbed for 20 minutes when I heard the news this afternoon. “But he was so great in this role on ‘Riverdale!’ And the ‘90210’ reboot is happening! He’s only 52!” Ridiculous in its own way, of course, because *I don’t know him!* But Luke sure was a part of my life.

I begged my mom to let me watch Beverly Hills, 90210 when it came out. I watched soaps like “Guiding Light” and “Dallas” with my parents, but at 9 years old, she (smartly) decided this new teen drama was beyond the level of acceptable drama.

But with the faces of “Dylan McKay” and Jason Priestley’s Brandon Walsh all over magazines, and in some cases, on my friends’ pillowcases, “90210” was hard to ignore. They were so beautiful! Never mind that they were several years older than the actual high school students they were supposed to play, most of the cast was just dazzling. I read every article I could about them, and some time in middle school finally started watching reruns.

(I feel like the first episode I saw was when Emily Valentine threatens to burn down the West Beverly HS float, but this might just be a trick my brain has played because Emily Valentine is such a gloriously ridiculous character.)

Between reruns and new episodes, 90210 and Dylan took me through high school and college. Then, thanks to the now-defunct SoapNet, those reruns saw me through my wedding, home-buying, a recession job loss, death, the haze and daze of new motherhood, a new business. Friendships, crushes, heartbreak, true love.

Then Luke reappeared in a whole new light, as Fred Andrews on “Riverdale.” (Shows about teen angst, when well done, will always have a place in the Clary home.) And he was great.

When we heard the news today, my best friend said, “It feels like we grew up with him.” She’s right but it wasn’t just growing up. There’s never been a year when I haven’t watched Luke Perry in some show or Hallmark movie.

With long-running series like 90210, or as I realized when “The Young & the Restless'” Kristoff St. John died last month, there’s so much character development, not to mention the reruns, it’s easy to feel connected to the characters. I saw that Jon Cryer tweeted today that Luke was “a character actor who happened to be in a heartthrob’s body.” Luke Perry may not have won an Academy Award or starred in what “the industry” would consider prestige television (although the impact Beverly Hills 90210 had on TV shouldn’t be understated), but I’d wager he connected with so many more people than many of his more lauded peers. And that’s what is so hard to say goodbye to.

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