Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Top Second Banana: AC Slater vs. Dylan McKay

Two years ago I wrote a Blog entry that was the most popular entry I ever wrote. In it I compare 90s titans Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestly) from “Beverly Hills 90210” to Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) from “Saved By The Bell”. We all had a good laugh when Brandon squeaked by with a 8-7 win over Zack. Now we’re going to do this all over again with a sequel that won’t be derivative at all and have the second bananas take center stage as Luke Perry and Mario Lopez will fight over who can be the greatest second-best man.

* My initial thought was to have a girls of 90210 and SBTB battle, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with the 800-pound gorilla in the room, also known as Andrea Zuckerman. If I include her that destroys the 90210 gang because she was a terrible character. But if I don’t include her, then we’re missing something aren’t we? And before you ask, no I will not compare Screech to David Silver because that’s pathetic and there is no comparison to be made to 1990s superman Steve Sanders.

You will notice that there is another really good picture of Tiffani Amber Thiessen at the top of this post because, you know, she’s hot and I’d rather stare at her than Luke Perry or Mario Lopez.

I’m going to use some of the same categories that I used in the previous post, but there will be some surprises. The same rules apply: for the most part these categories will only be judged on stuff that happened to these characters when they were in high school, though I do reserve the right to throw that rule out the window if I have a chance to make a cheap joke.

Height: Do you know that Mario Lopez (AC Slater) is 5’11”? It’s true, at least according to the Internet. And Luke Perry (Dylan McKay) is a Lilliputian 5’9”. Between Perry and Priestly (who was 5’8”) it’s no wonder why the 90210 male leads didn’t go to the Magic Mountain for Senior Skip Day; neither of them could meet the height requirements for the rides. Hey yooooooooo! Point: Slater takes this one easily.

Intelligence: Slater supposedly scored over 1000 on his SATs, however I don’t think that he could spell book if you spotted him the B and the K. Dylan was a stereotypical slacker who had the appearance of not caring about learning, until Brandon found the collected works of Byron* in his car. It took a year or two until he decided to get his shit together and astounded everyone by taking every single tough course at West Bev his senior year. So while Dylan is obviously smarter than Slater, I don’t know how smart it is to take a bunch of difficult classes your senior year. What are you trying to prove? Point: Slater. To quote a sample from Third Bass’ Cactus Cassette: “He is stupid, but he knows that he is stupid, so that makes him smart.”

* No, this wasn’t a collection of Room 19 blog posts, though it’s nice of you to immediately think of that. It was actually the collected works of the English poet Byron. Dylan introduces the poet to Brandon by saying, “He was mad, bad and dangerous to know.” Which is how I introduce myself to strangers.

Car: I don’t think that Slater drove a car, he just walked around Bayside in his tank top and Cavaricci pants. Dylan drove around in a 1961 Porsche 356 Speedster, which is a pretty sweet ride. Point: Dylan.

Girls: Let’s get this out of the way right now, if Slater or Dylan ever went to your school they would be awash in women. Teachers would fuck them in the middle of classes. However on their respective shows, they were always losing girls named Kelly to Brandon and Zack. Even when the girl wasn’t named Kelly, they were always getting stuck with the table scraps. On the rare occasions that they won their dream girl, there was always an asterisk: Brenda Walsh was Brandon’s sister, Jessie Spano was Zack’s best friend. Crap like that. I bet that in real life, Lopez and Perry have some sort of crippling confidence issues that were manifested by their shows’ writers glee in making them the losers.

But let’s focus on the positives: Dylan got a lot of tail in high school. From Kelly to Brenda to women unnamed, the perception was that as long as Brandon didn’t want her, she was Dylan’s property. Slater only dated uptight Jessie and one or two other girls (whom I can’t even remember right now, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt). We do know that Dylan took Brenda’s virginity and since sex with her wasn’t a big deal to him—it was implied that he’s had the sex a few times before.* When Slater and Jessie kissed, the audience had a collective orgasm. He wasn’t getting laid on that show. Ever. Point: Dylan.

* Brenda was such a shrew about it too, “How do I know you don’t have a disease,” she bitchily blubbered. “Because I’ve been tested Bren.” See, Dylan had an answer for everything. Kinda cool because I think most guys would have gotten whiny, angry and desperate. That’s not sexy, guys.

Daddy Issues (their own): Slater’s dad was a bit of a dick. For one thing, he named him Albert Clifford Slater. For another he kept moving him around the country, never letting him establish any roots—I wanted to use the speech Slater gave at the Max from one of the umpteen times when the gang was trying to save the restaurant from closing, but I don’t think it would work here. I don’t have Lopez’ gravitas. He also kept threatening to bounce him to military school. Dylan’s dad was a bit of a dick, but they started reestablished their relationship, getting close (they sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”!) and then he blew up. At least Dylan’s dad lived on a house boat and was rich. Point: Slater.

Daddy Issues (their girlfriends’ fathers): James Eckhouse, who played Walsh patriarch Jim Walsh, could be one of the finest actors ever to grace the stage and he was often on the receiving end of Dylan’s acid-filled rants about how controlling he was. Eventually they became business partners, then friends, perhaps even lovers? I don’t know about the last one, but before they were buddies, Dylan really hated Jim for awhile and it was great. I don’t think Jessie Spano had a father. She was such an over-the-top feminist, I think that she sprang fully-grown from her mother’s forehead like Athena did from Zeus. Though if she did have a dad, I bet he would have been a hen-pecked wuss who drank Scotch by the gallon in a dark basement while pondering how to make his wife and daughter’s deaths look like an accident. Point: Dylan.

Athletics: Slater was all-city in football, track and wrestling. Dylan could barely wear a baseball cap correctly. Check out the episode where his fahter dies and “Dark Dylan” spends the episode trying to coerce the real Dylan into grabbing a drink. Dark Dylan wears a black baseball cap and it looks like he was only made aware of the existence of this article of clothing seconds before the scene was filmed. “You do what with this? You wear it where? Like this? I don’t understand this thing at all.” Point: Slater.

Relationship with the Star: Dylan and Brandon were unusually close for one guy nailing another guy’s twin sister, often when he was in the next room. I don’t think it would be a huge deal if you’re out of college, but in high school Brandon would probably be pissed that some jackass is having sex with his sister and rip on Dylan to Steve. “Brah, that’s so not cool. I’m in the next room!”

But in 90210-land, Brandon was surprisingly okay with it and so they were like brothers. In fact, whenever Dylan got into trouble, Brandon would bail him out. At the same time, Brandon would look to Dylan as the guidepost as to how Californians lived, especially in the early episodes. It was kind of like the Fonz and Richie’s relationship in the first few seasons of “Happy Days”.

Slater was originally written as Zack’s nemesis. But Slater only outsmarted Zack once out of every ten schemes, so it wasn’t much of a rivalry. Then they teamed up and became best friends. Though the relationship wasn’t always so even-keeled. Zack knew that he had the upper hand with Slater, Slater is the one who brokered the truce, so I don’t think that Zack ever really respected him and I bet that ate at Slater every night too. “Fucking Zack, he thinks he’s so cool. Damn him.” Slater was so dysfunctional, he had a lizard for a best friend. Until Zack accidentally killed it. Point: Dylan.

Drugs and Alcohol: One night at a toga party Slater got drunk and wasn’t able to drive. He had his friend, Zack who was also bombed, drive home. They got into a car accident, Slater broke his leg and was unable to play in the big football game. Slater is also on the record as being anti-pot.

Dylan is a former alcoholic, he was going to AA meetings in high school AND is a former heroin addict. I think that he was pro-pot at one point too. You may think that this would tip the scales in Dyl-weed’s (yes, this was a nickname that was used on the show) favor but it doesn’t mainly because Dylan was a bigger asshole drunk than sober. And this doesn’t tip the scales in Slater’s favor either because you know when he got hammered he got all frat bro-y and rape-y. Point: no one.

Family: Slater had a sister who was attracted to Zack (of course) which understandably angered Slater. I don’t recall anything about Slater’s mom. Dylan’s mom was a hippie who used to drive him nuts. As you know, the mafia blew up Dylan’s dad and in the ensuing grieving period, Dylan met his “sister” as well as her mom (supposedly Dylan’s dad former wife) and her boyfriend. For a couple of episodes they formed a nice, tight little family unit. Turns out they were grifters (which Jim Walsh saw a mile away – so smart, that Jim Walsh) and stole every nickle from our hero. This pushed him further down the pit of despair until he went to Mexico, kicked a little ass and got his money back. Point: Dylan.

Work: These two lazy assholes never did an honest day’s work in their life. Dylan lived off his inheritance, Slater lived off his dimples. Point: no one.

Other Talents: Sometimes Slater would play the drums and sing in the Zack Attack or duet on cheesy 80s ballads with his special lady, Jessie or even dance. He was a true triple threat. Aside from complaining and sighing really loud, Dylan didn’t do anything but brood and try to look thoughtfully tortured. If Dylan was James Dean, Slater was Dean Martin. Point: Slater.

Clothes and Fashion: Along with Brandon, Dylan helped usher in a second golden-age of sideburns. As far as I can remember he didn’t wear anything out of the ordinary or embarrassing. Slater had an Eazy-E jheri curled mullet, and Parker Lewis shirts that were opened Larry Dallas style*. Like I said earlier, he wore Cavaricci pants and tank tops everywhere. I bet that he had a closet full of Gibaud jeans and probably wore Cross Colors. In other words, it was as if the MC Hammer’s closet threw up on him. Point: I guess it depends how you dressed, and while I will cop to owning a pair of Cavs, I did not own anything else. Dylan wins this round.

* How about that for a pop culture goulash: NWA’s Easy-E, Corin “Corky” Nemec aka Parker Lewis from TV’s “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” and Larry Dallas from “Three’s Company”? That’s some good eating, folks.

That’s about it folks, but before we get to the final count here’s something: if you were to have told me in 1993 that Mario Lopez would be more famous (and yes, this is debatable) than Luke Perry in 2013, I would have slapped you in the face – mostly because I couldn’t handle my alcohol when I was 19-years-old. But after I apologized and sobered up, I’d be surprised. But take heed Luke Perry, your character won this battle by a 6-5-2 score. Huzzah for you!

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