Dylan McKay’s A Dad
Photo Courtesy of The CW
BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL
Thanks to Luke Perry, I am reminded that there is truth in the one-time Loving Care ad slogan: “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better.”
On the CW’s new series “Riverdale”—a “Sugar Sugar”-free version of the Archie comics of my youth—Perry plays the redhead’s father, “Fred Andrews.”
He has put the glitzy Beverly Hills in his rearview for the fictitious small town where life revolves around Archie, Veronica, Betty, Reggie and the rest of the gang. I think it’s a move in the right direction. The actor has also moved up in years, and quite frankly, is better for it.
I remember all too well being glued to the TV when 90210 was on, and how people at work the next day recapped the show. Yes, working people in their 20s and early 30s discussing a program about high school kids. Everyone admired and liked Brandon, but everyone wanted Dylan, the James Dean archetype. Sneering. Sulking. Literally, too cool for school. His jacket collar was always turned up. When he was wearing only a tee shirt, the sleeves were rolled. (If it had been the ‘50s not the ‘90s, a pack of smokes would have been nestled up there for safe keeping.) And not only was he a babe, he was (jackpot!) a trust fund baby.
However, a few years ago, my now 19-year-old daughter, Meg, started watching the show in reruns. I thought it would be fun if we tuned in together, with me sharing my Beverly Hills High knowledge. I believe the word that best describes the experience is “painful.” It was like going to a school reunion, seeing the prom queen and king, and thinking: “I used to be jealous of her? I had a crush on him?”
Dylan in particular made me shake my head. His man-of-few-words/I-am-not-impressed-by-anything demeanor that once played up how above it all he was, now projected to my mature eyes: “I am a drip.” The slicked back pomade hair style and trademark sideburns made him look as though he was wearing his “greaser” Halloween costume 24/7/365. And his anti-Brandon, bad boy schtick was puzzling for no other reason than that he never did anything “bad.”
Truth be told though, a precious few of us can look back at our younger selves and not wince, or question why glitter suspenders and a high, side ponytail seemed like a good idea at the time. Hence, I may have been critizing Dylan & Co., but I was actually cringing at reminiscences of myself.
No, I never had a Fonzi-look-a-like phase, but I had a Madonna one; the Material Girl years circa ’84. I bought “vintage,” aka secondhand stuff, on St. Mark’s Place in Greenwich Village, and wore so many cheap bracelets that if I held my arm straight out, people looked at me as though my next words would be, “Five for a dollar.”
My then-chestnut hair was down my back, and I got a perm so it would be curly and wild like the MTV video vixens who dated members of Whitesnake. It would have been totally reasonable for one to believe that I not only never learned to use a hairbrush, but did not even own one.
And I, as well as my peers, peppered our vocab with slang used by teenagers, in an effort to make clear to everyone over 35 that we were not just hip-trendy-au courant, but much more so than any of them. In other words, we downed our daily shot of arrogance with a smug chaser.
Today, Perry’s character is a nice man, described on the show’s website as “easygoing.” He owns of a successful business and the most important thing to him is maintaining a positive relationship with his son.
The actor can pride himself on the fact that his brooding days are far behind him. Perry’s grown up and comfortable acting like it. And in his own way, he’s still cool.
Hope the same can be said about me,