Everyone uses social media differently. Everyone grieves differently. However, in this age of immediacy, some—or perhaps many—are quick to pass judgment.
Such has been the case with the death of Hollywood actor Luke Perry.
The teen soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210, which began in 1990, launched the careers of several stars, including Perry and Vancouver’s Jason Priestley, who both shot to teen-idol fame.
Unfortunately, Perry, who had returned to teen drama success with a role on Riverdale, died at age 52 in California on March 4 after being hospitalized on February 27 for a massive stroke.
Some of Perry’s costars, however, came under fire for their social media activity (or lack thereof) in the wake of his death.
Perry’s hospitalization happened to coincide on the same day that Fox announced a six-episode revival series, featuring much of the original cast. (Perry could not participate due to scheduling conflicts with the production schedule of Riverdale.)
Although costars Ian Ziering and Shannen Doherty were quick to post about Perry’s passing on social media, some of the show’s other costars remained silent.
On February 27, the day of the revival series announcement, the 48-year-old Priestley had posted an image of himself from his 90210 days alongside a current image.
Social media users soon began to criticize or inquire why Priestley had not posted anything about Perry.
On March 7, Priestley broke his social media silence with a post that explained it had taken him a few days to sort out what he wanted to say, as Perry had been his friend for 29 years.
He paid tribute to Perry, stating that he and many others were in pain because Perry was “one of those truly special people who really cared” and he was “an incredibly bright light that was extinguished far too soon”.
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It’s taken me a couple of days to figure out how to write this... My dear friend of 29 years, Luke Perry, was one of those truly special people who really cared... Luke was not only a star, he was an incredibly bright light that was extinguished far too soon... and that is why I, and so many others, are in so much pain today... If you had the good fortune to know Luke, or to have ever crossed his path, I know you are sad today as well... the candle that burns twice as bright only burns for half as long... you burned oh, so brightly Luke... Goodnight Sweet Prince.
He followed up the post on the next day to thank those who offered support, and went on to explain that Perry was “much more than just a friend to me”, describing him as “my teammate, my teacher, my sounding board, my compass, my brother”.
Jennie Garth, who played Kelly Taylor and whose character had a relationship with Perry’s Dylan on the show, was also criticized for sharing a cheerful photo of herself and her daughters in honour of International Women’s Day on March 8.
She defended herself in the comments by stating "Hey everyone … I chose to post a pic of my girls today. Because they are my life. Because today is a day to celebrate all women," Garth explained. "It took a lot for me to want to celebrate anything. I thought about it and I know that’s the way my dear friend would have wanted it."
Costar Tiffani Thiessen, who also came under fire for posting on Instagram on the day of Perry’s death without commenting on Perry, similarly took a few days to process the loss of Perry.
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My heart has been weighing heavy. The loss of a man who started as my co-star but quickly became my friend. He welcomed me on my very first day of #90210 with open arms. A day that was not an easy one for me. I was coming in to a show, a family really, that had been together for over 4 years. But this man took me under his wing and made me feel at home. Made me feel like I belonged in his TV family. He was sincere, sweet, warm, kind, professional and funny as all heck. And most of all, the definition of a gentleman. Luke, our world has a hole in it now that you aren’t here. But heaven definitely gained you as an angel. #RIP #LukePerry #gonetoosoon
Riverdale executive producers, Warner Bros. Television, and the CW issued a statement on the day of Perry's death.
Riverdale costar Cole Sprouse had previously posted about Perry on Instagram the day after he was hospitalized.
KJ Apa, who plays Archie on Riverdale, didn't post about Perry, who portrayed Archie's father on the Vancouver-filmed TV series, until March 8. He received both criticism and defense from fans for the brevity of his message.
Even Luke Perry’s 18-year-old daughter, Sophie Perry, came under attack for appearing cheerful in an Instagram post with her mother on March 8.
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You all know my dad is a super star, but I just want to share for a moment that I got really fucking lucky in the parental department because this is my mom. Minnie. Who also happens to be my best friend. Wow, how cliche, I know. And she is the rock for everybody grieving in this family right now. She’s the toughest and sweetest and most amazing woman I or anyone else has ever met. How did I get so lucky to have two icons for parents? I love you mom and I could not get through this absolute shit situation without you. None of us could. Oh. And I was just informed it was national women’s day, how fitting for a post on my kick ass mama. #happynationalwomensday
She addressed her critics on March 11 by explaining she was in fact in pain, sad, and crying but she pointed out that she was“not going to sit in my room and cry day in and day out until the internet has deemed it appropriate for me to do otherwise”.
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Since my dad died I have received a lot of attention online. And most of it has been positive but of course, some people just can’t be nice. And I’m here to say that I did not ask for this attention, I did not ask to be thrown into some virtual spotlight, and while I don’t mean to offend anybody, I’m also not going to cater to any one else’s needs and beliefs. I’m 18. I swear like a sailor and sometimes I dress like a hooker. And I support causes and you may not. And most importantly. I am going to laugh and smile and live my normal life. YES I am hurt and sad and crying and beside myself with what happened to my dad. It’s the worst thing to ever happen in my life. And I am torn the fuck up over it. But I’m not going to sit in my room and cry day in and day out until the internet has deemed it appropriate for me to do otherwise. And if you knew my dad you would know he wouldnt want me to. So you shouldn’t either. So to those of you shaming me for my language and my wardrobe and most disgustingly, my grieving process, do us both the favor and just unfollow. It’s a waste of both of our time.