Jennie Garth’s career began as a small role on the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains and eventually evolved into the actress starring as Kelly Taylor on Melrose Place. When it came time for the show’s creators to craft a spin-off program, they immediately brought Garth’s character on board to star in the teenage drama series, Beverly Hills, 90210. Her portrayal of the promiscuous and troubled teen snagged her a Young Artist Award, and when the series came to an end in 2000, it seemed a given that lucrative acting gigs would continue to fall right into her lap, and that’s exactly what happened when she was cast alongside Amanda Bynes in the 2002 WB sitcom, What I Like About You.
But despite her enormous talents, Garth has struggled to maintain the level of success she experienced during her heyday and has fallen off the radar in recent years. Many of her projects have bombed, and she’s been delegated to the role of a guest star on various shows. We’re scratching our heads in confusion while trying to ascertain just what happened to her career. Here are a few theories as to why Hollywood seemingly won’t cast Jennie Garth anymore.
She dissed the 90210 reboot
Those who witnessed the primetime magic that Beverly Hills, 90210 brought to television screens were even more excited when the program was rebooted in 2008. Simply called 90210, the revamped series hired Garth to reprise her role as Kelly Taylor, who’d grown up to be a guidance counselor and a single mom of one.
During an interview with Just Jenny (via E! News), Garth and fellow Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Tori Spelling discussed the reboot’s cast. Garth did not have good things to say about her colleagues. "That’s an example of a cast that really didn’t have that chemistry," she said. "It’s hard to find actors who have that [chemistry]," she said, "It’s like lightning in a bottle, you either have it or you don’t." Maybe she was right, considering the show was canceled after its fifth season due to abysmal ratings, but either way, bashing other actors isn’t the right way to get on the industry’s good side. It’s more like a surefire way to leave a stain on your own reputation.
Her show bombed
We had high hopes for Jennie Garth when she signed on to appear in the ABC Family show Mystery Girls alongside Tori Spelling. The show was a remake of the 1990s program of the same name, and the blonde beauties were cast to play the roles of two detectives. With Spelling as the ditzy Holly Hamilton and Garth as the headstrong Charlie Contour, we had high hopes that the series would be successful. Alas, viewers weren’t impressed.
The show premiered in 2014 with a disappointing opening of 760,000 viewers, and by the last episode, it was evident that Mystery Girls was a flop. TV Line reported the final show only brought in "slightly more than 500K viewers and a .024 demo rating." In layman’s terms: It was a flop and canceled after one season. Clearly, if Garth’s starring vehicle wasn’t compelling viewers to tune in week after week, it’s no wonder Hollywood may be hesitant to sign her to bigger projects.
Reality tv might be more her speed
Perhaps Hollywood isn’t done with Jennie Garth. Maybe she’s is the one who’s done with Hollywood! The actress has parlayed her career into several reality TV stints, including an appearance with her brood on Celebrity Family Feud and an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (She was, BTW). The actress shook her tail feather on Season 5 of Dancing With the Stars, and she even starred in her own CMT series called Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country. On the latter, Garth dealt with the aftermath of her divorce from Peter Facinelli, while raising her children on a farm two hours outside of Los Angeles, far away from the industry that made her a household name.
"I grew up in rural Illinois, so it was sort of like returning to my roots. I just felt like I needed to go back to where I came from. I wanted my girls to experience that sort of childhood," she told Entertainment Weekly. We’re all for getting away from the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown, but if Garth does want to raise her profile in Hollywood, she may need a shorter commute.
She turned into a ‘depressed person’
As her 11-year marriage to Twilight star Peter Facinelli unraveled at the seams, Garth told People, "I spent a couple of years lying in bed and being depressed … It was that ‘I can’t breathe’ pain. Physically I didn’t look my best, and mentally I didn’t feel my best." It wasn’t until her daughters, Luca, Lola, and Fiona, showed her a video that was recorded during the family’s Christmas celebration that Garth realized how bad things had gotten. She said she was absolutely shocked to see the image of the "depressed person" she had turned into.
She decided to put her health first, and she started by taking care of herself from the inside out. In a follow-up interview with People in 2012, the actress revealed that she dropped "30 30 lbs. of dead weight" and a whole lot of negativity. "Even through the ups and downs, I’m happy," she said. "I’m thankful to be alive." These personal struggles likely had a significant impact on Garth’s professional opportunities, but we applaud her for prioritizing her mental and physical health.
Is she a mean girl?
There was a lot of drama happening on the set of of Beverly Hills, 90210, but most of it went undetected while the hit show was on the air. Years later, Garth spilled the tea about friction with co-star Shannen Doherty in her memoir, Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde. "There were times when we loved each other and there were times when we wanted to claw each other’s eyes out," Garth told E! News. "Shannen and I are both Aries women, we’re both very strong, independent women, so we butt heads a lot." Sure, it appears that Garth is shouldering some of the blame for the behind-the-scenes drama, but slamming a colleague years later could be viewed as a play for publicity over professionalism.
Thankfully, the hatchet has been buried. Doherty even made it onto the guest list for Garth’s 40th birthday party. Kelly and Brenda for life! That said, Hollywood has a long memory, and a history of not playing nice may be hindering Garth’s future prospects.
She hates ’99 percent’ of the business
There’s more to being an actress than memorizing lines and looking flawless on set, and it’s the other side of the industry that Jennie Garth does not enjoy. In an interview with Parade, the actress said she loved being in front of the camera, "but it’s all the other moments that I don’t enjoy. The ‘business’ aspect of it, the gossip." To put a fine point on it, Garth said she disliked about "99 percent" of her job as an actress.
As a celebrity, it’s going to be nearly impossible for Garth to work as an actress and dodge everything else that is part and parcel with the profession. We wonder if Hollywood would be more willing to book her for major projects if she scaled back that 99 percent distaste to, let’s say, a solid 75 percent?
Mom life took over
At the time of her 2001 marriage to actor Peter Facinelli, Garth was undeniably the bigger star between the two of them. However, she made the conscious decision to step away from her career to focus on raising their three daughters. Looking back on her failed marriage, Garth told People she had no regrets about leaving the workforce behind to "embrace the stay-at-home-mom role" when Facinelli’s career began to take off.
As he garnered critical acclaim playing Carlisle Cullen in the Twilight series, Garth became his No. 1 fan. "I was so excited for that shift. I was so excited to be on his arm," she said, "It was something I’d wanted for him for a long time." Clearly, this was a conscientious decision that Garth enjoyed, but her deliberate decision helps explain why her relationship with Hollywood shifted dramatically and why she may be struggling to return to the red carpet.
More marital strife
The demise of her marriage to producer Peter Facinelli may have sent her life spiraling out of control, but Jennie Garth did eventually find love again with actor-restaurateur Dave Abrams. The couple met when a mutual friend hooked them up on a blind date in December 2014. "I looked him up online, and he shared a name with a real beefcake-y male stripper, and I was like, ‘Oh no!’ But luckily it wasn’t him," Garth told People. Whew! Crisis averted. Despite Abrams being about nine years her junior, the couple embarked on a whirlwind romance and tied the knot in July 2015. "I’m sure people are like, ‘You guys are insane,’ but when it hits you like that, you know," he said.
Maybe those critics had a point because their union soon showed signs of strain. According to a November 2017 E! News report, the couple agreed to take some time "to work on their relationship." A source told Us Weekly: "They are still trying to make it work, but they haven’t been living together. They love each other, but like every marriage, it takes work. Jennie is taking the time to focus on her girls and herself." Knowing how her divorce from Facinelli caused her to retreat from the public eye, perhaps Garth needs some time to process things with Abrams before she pursues new ventures in the entertainment industry.
How she can turn things around
Jennie Garth is resilient. She has suffered through intense emotional pain but continues to stand tall, and with her megawatt smile and bubbly personality, she’s as recognizable today as she was when she walked the halls of West Beverly Hills High School. Fans are drawn to her for the nostalgia that she fuels, but there is life beyond the reboot or reprisal. Other veteran actresses such as Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies), Robin Wright (House of Cards), and Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) have landed critically-acclaimed roles in TV series in recent years. The right project could breathe new life into Garth’s career too.
She’s appeared in the Fox comedy The Mick, playing a new-age mom who goes by the name of, you guessed it, Jennie Garth, and she stars in a 2019 feature film called April’s Flowers. Let’s hope these low-profile endeavors will prompt Hollywood to cast her in bigger projects in the future because we’re chomping at the bit for more Jennie Garth on our screens.