TORONTO — Jason Priestley has been watching his 1990s sideburned-self on Beverly Hills, 90210 and he’s not thrilled about it.
Ahead of next week’s debut of the show’s tongue-in-cheek spinoff, BH90210, the Vancouver-born star says his 12-year-old daughter has been catching up on the original and “thinks it’s hysterical to watch them with her daddy.”
“It’s been traumatic, to say the least,” Priestley deadpanned in a recent phone interview.
“I have had to sit through all the fashion and all the hairstyles and all the bad music…. The fact that mom jeans are making a comeback, I don’t think I’m OK with that.”
Debuting Aug. 7 on Global and Fox, BH90210 reunites many of the gang from Beverly Hills, 90210, which ran from 1990 to 2000 and had teen hearts in a tizzy every week with its electric guitar-charged theme song and soapy look at affluent adolescence in Los Angeles.
But this version is not a reboot. Rather, it’s a scripted, fake reality show in which the cast members play heightened versions of themselves trying to get a new version of Beverly Hills, 90210 made.
“We’re living in strange times, and that’s why we thought to do a show that was very meta,” said Priestley, who starred in the original as big-hearted Brandon Walsh alongside Shannen Doherty as twin sister Brenda.
“Instead of just doing a reboot of our show, why not make the reboot about the actors trying to get a reboot made of their show?”
BH90210 also includes Doherty as well as original cast members Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Tori Spelling and Gabrielle Carteris.
Priestley said it was emotionally tough reuniting without Luke Perry, who was also a 90210 star and died in March after suffering a massive stroke.
“Luke was a huge part of our cast, Luke was a huge part of all of our lives, and to reconcile his loss and his not being a part of the show was difficult for all of us and difficult for the show,” he said.
“We had to figure out how to do that in a tasteful way that wasn’t exploitative and hopefully we were successful in that.”
The 49-year-old Priestley said he had “a huge part” in the development of BH90210, and directed the third episode.
“I think the show in the package that we came up with was part of the thing that attracted us all to it,” he said.
“I think the prospect for all of us of going back and playing those characters that we played 20 to 30 years ago was less appealing than trying something new and off-the-wall and hopefully groundbreaking in a way that could potentially not only satisfy our audiences from back then but also attract new audiences to the show.”
It was also an opportunity “to make fun of the public perception of all of us as public personalities,” he added.
“And to also make fun of Hollywood and to make fun of the public perception of Hollywood, and maybe give people a little peek behind the curtain of a heightened version of what Hollywood potentially can be.”
So, what’s the heightened version of Priestley, who is also a director and currently stars as a detective on the Canadian Global TV series Private Eyes?
“Jason Priestley in the TV show is a Christopher Nolan-obsessed TV director who’s married to Vanessa Lachey,” he said during a break from shooting season 4 of Private Eyes in Uxbridge, Ont.
Priestley says he wanted to take on a “coddled, entitled, ill-tempered” Hollywood stereotype with the character.
He adds he had a “wonderful time” making BH90210, and hopes it won’t just be a one-off.
“We didn’t make it to be one and done,” he said. “Hopefully the public will respond to it and enjoy watching it and we will get the opportunity to make more.”