"Perfect Mom." Nov. 22, 1990. Brenda learns to appreciate Cindy, Kelly isn't "the girl who has everything." ...
Synopsis: There's a mother-daughter fashion show planned at West Beverly. Andrea wants a first-person piece for the paper, and Brandon suggest she do it. When Andrea reminds him that she's conning her way into West Beverly, Brandon suggests that Andrea go with Cindy and Brenda.
Meanwhile, David is shooting footage for a "video yearbook" but he's focusing mainly on Kelly, whom he calls "the girl who has everything." He's planning to do a behind-the-scenes look at Kelly during the fashion show, to get closer to her.
Kelly's house. Her mom, Jackie, and Jackie's friend Nina (Linda Thompson) are chatting by the pool. Jackie's feeling upbeat about her life and her new man, Don. (Nina says Jackie can't do any better than Don "in every department," batting her eyes, but Jackie is oblivious to the suggestion that Nina has also sampled Don's wares.)
Kelly and Brenda arrive. Jackie charms Brenda, calling her "a knockout." That night, Jackie gets ready for a date with Don. She's tramped up. Kelly disapproves. Kelly also noticed that Jackie was drinking during the day and complains; after Jackie leaves, Kelly checks her glass and realizes she was drinking just before leaving, too.
The Jackie-Kelly scenes are contrasted by Brenda talking with Cindy, who is especially domestic-mom-looking, including in an apron. Brenda talks up Jackie, wishes that Cindy would act more like her. Brenda's fondness for Jackie will come up with Cindy again later in an argument over Brenda's clothes.
Daytime. Jackie arrives home. She's a mess, because she broke up with Don. She also wants a drink and is ticked to discover the booze is all gone. Kelly wants Jackie to call her AA sponsor. Jackie won't do it. At school, David chases Kelly for the video yearbook. Kelly and Brenda talk about moms; Kelly tries to explain that Jackie isn't perfect but stops short of talking about substance abuse.
That night, at dinner at the Walsh house, Kelly bonds with Cindy as they make dinner. Brandon has brought Andrea, to ask if she can join Cindy and Brenda. (Andrea's mom, they claim, has to work during the fashion show.) Brenda hasn't told Cindy about the fashion show. Hurt feelings. Brenda, though, says Cindy is overcompensating with her domesticity, that she was more Beverly Hills-like in Minneapolis; Cindy sees her point. Everyone plans for the fashion show.
When Kelly goes home, the house is locked up and she has to use the dog entrance to get in. Jackie is passed out, drunk. The next morning, Kelly has a hard time waking her. Once she does, Jackie does some cocaine to get going. At the fashion show, Andrea, Cindy and Brenda all look very nice, especially Andrea. She enjoys the praise and attention. Jackie and Kelly arrive late; Jackie does coke in the bathroom, and Cindy sees her. Makes for a very awkward introduction to Jackie a bit later.
During the fashion show, Jackie has a complete meltdown while hosting. Kelly is humiliated. Confides at last to Brenda. Brenda notes that her parents aren't perfect either. "At least they're sober," Kelly says.
Later, Andrea, Kelly, Brenda and Cindy all talk at the Walsh house. Much bonding. Andrea praises Kelly as the "strongest person I've ever met" because of how well she copes at school considering her home life. Kelly tells Andrea she's pretty. Then Jackie shows up. Tries to bring Kelly home. Kelly tells her off, wants her to go back to rehab. Jackie storms out, but when Kelly gets home later, Jackie has decided to go to rehab.
Brenda realizes she has not treated Cindy well. They make up. David gives his tape of the fashion show to Kelly, so it won't get around; she is grateful.
Comments: Written by "90210" creator Darren Star, "Perfect Mom" is a good change-of-pace episode, maybe the best episode of the series so far. Part of my reaction stems from Brandon exhaustion, relieved in this episode, where Brandon does little besides set up Andrea for the fashion show and hang out with Jim. And with Brandon at the side of the stage, we don't see Steve and Dylan -- even though Dylan appeared to be starting a romance with Brenda in the previous episode. Instead, for the most part, we break free of the Walsh clan. Yes, there's the Brenda-Cindy conflict when Brenda is charmed by Kelly's mom, Jackie. But it's a pretty mild conflict, especially when compared to all that is going on with Kelly and Jackie, who dominate the episode. And Jennie Garth, whom I have not found the best of actresses, does well here with the vulnerability in Kelly. There are also good moments for Andrea and even for David, who gets to be more than the Kelly-stalker he is set up to be.
It's not all plausible, of course, and there are moments that don't quite work. After Andrea bares her soul to Kelly, Kelly's reaction is patronizingly mild -- although I have to admit it is also in character for Kelly. Some of Brenda's snarling at Cindy sounds too much like the Brandon rants that were getting tiresome before this episode. Then there's Brenda's dress for the fashion show -- like something left over from a sword-and-sandals movie.
But the Kelly-Jackie stuff is pretty good by "90210" standards to date, and the broadening of the storytelling beyond Brandon and Brenda is admirable.
-- This is Ann Gillespie's first appearance as Jackie Taylor. In the pilot, Jackie was played by Pamela Galloway.
-- As this episode begins, Jackie is dating Don. When we saw her in the pilot, she was having sleepovers with a guy named Bob.
-- Jackie's friend Nina is played by Linda Thompson. She was a girlfriend of Elvis Presley and the wife of Bruce Jenner and David Foster. With Foster, she co-wrote "I Have Nothing" from "The Bodyguard"; it was nominated for best song, although it lost to "A Whole New World" from "Aladdin."
-- During the fashion show, we see Donna's mother, Nancy, played by Jordana Capra.
-- Jackie grew up in Ohio.