Being a Broke-Ass is Like Being on a Mid-90s Soap Opera

Legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland once said, “We all need a splash of bad taste; no taste is what I’m against.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement– which is why I am unashamed to do things like: lick the Tapatio-drenched remnants of an exploded on-the-go burrito off of my shirt, or wear orthopedic rain boots when it’s sunny outside. Tackiness is the Tapatio of life, which is actually great for broke-asses since it can be hard to appear “refined and elegant” when you microwave your tea, and dress out of the free box in the lobby of your building. That being said, I’m about to rock your tacky world by introducing you to an unsung hero in the realm of deliciously bad 90s television– the original Melrose Place, which aired from 1992-1999, and coincidentally can be found on Netflix Instant right now.

You’re probably wondering how I unearthed this nugget of tacky television gold. Well, eureka!– fortunately (or unfortunately, you be the judge), my parents let my brother and me watch whatever the hell we wanted as children. By age nine, my favorite movie was Welcome to the Dollhouse. Anyway, I digress– the point is, from ages six through 13, I watched Melrose Place (or, MP) with my mom and was sucked into a magical world of drama, mom jeans, and snap-crotch body suits. Remembering my days as a baby-teethed soap opera addict, I recently decided to re-watch the magic again at age 25, and found out that the first season of the show is totally worth a Netflix marathon.

For those of you who don’t know, MP centers around the lives of a bunch of broke twentysomethings living in an apartment complex in West Hollywood. They all have jobs like “waitress” or “cab driver,” but really want to be writers, actresses, social workers, or big-time advertising execs. They talk regularly about the shitty economy, and worry about how they are going to pay their rent and student loan bills. Sound familiar? Even though it is considered a soap opera, the problems of the characters on MP are totally familiar to me and a lot of my friends. That’s not to say that the show isn’t without its major dramz (it is a soap opera, after all)– I’m talking affairs with older married men, hate crimes, unplanned pregnancies, psychotic stalkers, statutory rape, coke addicted bitches, and alcoholic mothers all within the first half of the first season. Melrose Place: it’s relatable, and makes you feel better about your less-crazy life at the same time! Talk about a self-esteem boost!

One of my favorite things about the show is that these young, attractive, WeHo broke-asses all have each other’s backs. When one of them has a problem (for example, an obsessed horticulturalist stalker breaks into Sandy’s apartment and creepily covers her bed in rose petals), the whole building gets involved, and they all band together around the pool in bikini tops and clogs to solve it. Find out the girl you just started dating has an eight year old kid? Well, no worries– on MP, your neighbors will babysit him so you can get some hot, much-needed alone time with Mamacita. Wouldn’t it be great if real life worked like that? I don’t even know what my neighbors look like! Modern day impoverished twentysomethings should take a note from MP and help thy broke-ass neighbor!

But the best part about MP is, duh, the tacky fashions. Early 90s Los Angeles was filled with so many style gems– from Jane’s bowl-cut-for-a-grown-lady, to Sandy’s ever-exposed midriff, to Billy’s scrunched tube socks, to Rhonda’s jazzercise gear. It’s all so ugly it’s cool.  As an added bonus, the styles on MP can easily be recreated with one single trip to the Salvation Army– mom jeans, long skirts, and cut-off crop tops are all you need to look good, baby!

In short, the original MP should pretty much be an inspiration to broke-asses everywhere. From it, we learn that penniless peeps gotta stick together, and lounge scantily-clad by the pool while doing so. We also learn that broke-ass inspiration can come in the most unlikeliest of places, like a 90s 90210 spinoff starring Heather Locklear. Most importantly, we learn that a little bit of tackiness– both in television show choice and personal attire– can add some spice to a broke-ass’s life. So go grab yourself a burrito, load it with some Tapatio, and get your ass on on Netflix. Also, be prepared to like, not move for the next 6 hours– this picante program sucks ya in and doesn’t let you go until you agree to start wearing chokers and patchwork dresses.

Photo credits: Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Jinni, KMarina

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food, but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends to have a flair for the dramatic.

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