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In the ‘socially evolved’ 21st century there’s a litany of TV shows angled at today’s young adult population; Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Family Guy, what have you. Yes, the girls wear super chic clothes and the guys are totally dreamy, but these shows lack plot continuity, while the characters have very little substance. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few that follow brilliant, engaging story lines propagated by clever dialogue (shout out to Lena Dunham and the rest of the Girls). That being said most of these contemporary shows, whether they’re fiction or ‘reality’, are tailored perfectly for mindless consumption instead of spending time developing a consistent plot and creating memorable characters.
I’ll be the first to admit I watch, like, four different Housewives series and am a sucker for ABC’s Revenge (Emily Thorne is like so totally my current girl crush!). However, it goes without saying that all of these shows pale in comparison to the Immaculate Conception that is The O.C.
I remember the first time I saw the trailer…Ryan’s brooding bad boy ways, Marissa’s self-destructive tendencies, Luke’s pooka-shell necklace. I was hooked! I knew my life would never be the same again. I think it goes without saying; The O.C. is the best fucking show of all time and impacted the crucial developmental years for most of my generation. I mean my best high school memories are with Coop and Sum. I have had a crush on Seth. The New Year’s episode makes me cry without fail as Ryan rushes into the penthouse of the Four Seasons to kiss Marissa at midnight set to Finley Quaye’s ‘Dice’; “Nothingggg can compareee to when you roll the dice and swear your love is for me!”. Furthermore, I will refuse any suitor who does not climb onto a coffee cart in order to proclaim their undying love for me.
That being said, The O.C isn’t just the best fucking show of all time because of how dramatic Marissa’s life is, Kirsten’s alcoholism, or Sandy’s devotion to the common good (though these things are all crucial) The O.C is the best show of all time because both the plot and the characters are structurally sound and the show’s narrative is continuous through and through. Not only does the title of every episode begin with ‘The’, but there are story arcs, running jokes, and recurring images that span not only through each season, but through the entire series. For example, how Kirsten can’t cook (she tries!) and how Ryan carries Marissa’s limp body whether she is passed out, over-dosing, or dead. The well-developed and perfectly executed popular culture references are also a large part of what makes the show so awesome. Not to mention all of this drama is set to an amazing soundtrack.
While some of the running jokes like Sandy’s eyebrows (they’re genetic!) are more obvious, The O.C. also includes some more subtle references. In the episode ‘The Family Ties’ in the second season, Seth gets totally blackout to impress bad-girl-hottie Alex (Olivia Wilde). The next morning as Ryan informs Seth he threw up at the bar, Seth asks if he was vomiting like the “little girl from The Sixth Sense”. While this may seem arbitrary, actress Mischa Barton (Marissa Cooper) actually played that little girl covered in her own vomit alongside Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment. Ironically, this seems to be a foreshadowing of her later role, as Marissa ends up getting #whitegirlwasted and covered in her vom throughout the series.
While The O.C. has been off-air since 2007, the show remains relevant. Among other pop-culture appearances, topical rapper Hoodie Allen recently released his single “Cakeboy” with lyrics that read “I’m more Seth Cohen then you’ll ever be”. Even Six years after the show went off the air Cohen remains a model for contemporary masculinity. Not to mention he is arguably the original (or at least most recognizable) hipster.
Though the show took a turn for the worse after Marissa passed away in a violent motor vehicle accident (which still makes me cry), the thematic foundations present in the first three seasons remained in the fourth season. Though Summer traded in her Jimmy Choo’s for a burlap poncho and they didn’t bring back the pill-popping manic-depressant Oliver Trask (much to my personal dismay), Josh Swartz brought The O.C narrative full circle. Not only do Sandy and Kirsten finally move back to THE Berkeley house, but they buy it from Todd, the waiter from season one (Mushroom-Leek crescent? Crab and Brie filo?) Additionally, in the episode ‘The Christmukk-huh?’ Ryan finds consolation in Marissa’s death when it is explained had he not come to Newport, Marissa would have died following her overdose in Mexico.
I will always cry when Anna leaves Seth in ‘The Goodbye Girl’. I will always secretly resent Theresa for coming between Marissa and Ryan. No matter how much I identify with Hannah from Girls or how dreamy I find Daniel Grayson in Revenge, The O.C. will forever be my all-time favorite show.
By Lauren H