The O.C., as of today, is officially ten years old. Do you remember where you were when its pilot debuted? NEITHER DO I! I was in college and since it was in prime time I’m just gonna assume I’d been drinking.
But while I wasn’t on board initially, by the start of season two it was my favorite show. Hell, it might have been my only show; I didn’t watch much television back then.
There have been a lot of great things written on the show today. Obviously Danger Guerrero at UPROXX was going to have a post. This interview from Alan Sepinwall is huge and great. I managed to score a 32/50 on this quiz at Vulture. The O.C. had a lot of fans back then, and I think it’s only grown in appreciation with time. If you’ve seen the show, you know why: it’s funny, it has heart, it’s filled with outrageous situations and it’s filled with hella attractive people. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend picking up the DVDs. Fuck you, Netflix Watch Instantly.
Even with all the great reading material out there today regarding this great show, I couldn’t let the ten year anniversary pass without sharing some thoughts of my own. I may even have enough for an old school Ten Things:
1 – It made me realize that there’s no shame in liking what you like.
Some people never have to hide their relative embarrassment over their personal tastes. They like what they like and they have no problem if the entire world knows.
I wasn’t one of those people.
Maybe you’re a friend of mine and you’ve long known I have a soft spot for 90s boy bands and 80s hair metal. Maybe you knew me as a college senior when I wouldn’t click past a rom-com on cable (“YOU’VE GOT MAIL” IS CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED). Maybe you’ve seen what’s currently playing in my iTunes via G-Chat when I’ve gone entire afternoons playing Taylor Swift, Prince and Kelly Clarkson and I didn’t care if everyone on my contact list knew about it.
The guy I am now, the one that doesn’t give a shit about what people think, wasn’t who I was in 2003. Nope, back then I listened to my music with the door closed and the speakers down, mindful of what people in the dorms would say or think. Then The O.C. happened and my attitudes about such things started changing.
Like I said above, I don’t remember the exact moment I started to love The O.C. I do know it happened at some point during the summer between my senior and super senior year of college. But I came back to college that fall determined to get my roommates on board, and that’s exactly what happened. I took some shit initially for being hooked on a show whose primary target was teenage girls, but within weeks of playing the show up, every Tuesday night in our college house was was reserved for The OC. We debated the girls, laughed at Seth and bought the DVDs. Nothing to watch? Marathon session of The O.C.
All of the sudden my pop culture interests were less taboo. Other people like the same weird shit as me I relalized. No longer were my tastes in music and TV and movies something to hide, they were a fundamental part of who I was. I wore my interests (the weird and the normal) as a sort of a badge of honor, and have ever since.
2 – The music.
If there was one way to convince your friends to watch The O.C. that didn’t involve the ridiculous looking cast, it was the music they featured during every episode.
Just take a look at this list. I mean, holy shit, right?
I went a good decade-plus having never flipped on FM radio. The music I listened to was a result of friend recommendations, music message boards and soundtracks.
Oh, and TV shows. Nothing, certainly back then and perhaps to this day, has ever had a better soundtrack than The O.C.
The list I linked to speaks for itself. If you’re the kind of person that likes modern rock and pop that you didn’t necessarily hear on the radio (at least that’s how it was in my small college town), you were going to find new tunes you loved during every episode. Not all of it was from complete unknowns, but you did get a lot of new artists looking for exposure. The O.C. helped launch a lot of artists in the music industry.
My top ten favorite songs from the series:
10 – Silversun PIckups – Lazy Eye
9 – Liz Phair – Why Can’t I
8 – The All-American Rejects – Swing Swing
7 – The Alkaline Trio – We’ve Had Enough
6 – Placebo – Running up that Hill
5 – The Killers – Mr. Brightside
4 – Nada Surf – If you Leave
3 – Puddle of Mudd – Away from Me
2 – Ryan Adams – Wonderfwall
1 – Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
3 – It’s legitimately hilarious.
I’ve grown to love some good comedy on TV. Archer, Happy Endings, Cougar Town and The League are among my favorite shows to watch and they’ll have me laughing like a bastard, week in and week out. But those shows all fit the 22 minute sitcom mold. The O.C. was a 44 minute drama that could regularly make you laugh with its crazy good wit.
Honestly, the wit was the best thing about the show. I like smart, quick characters that say the right thing at the right moment more often than not. It’s why I love Sorkin. The O.C. gets it right in the form of characters that make you wish you were a little quicker with your one liners. I’d watch the O.C., and steal just about every line I could remember.
They were usually said by this guy…
4 – Seth is the fucking best.
Seth Cohen is one of my two or three favorite characters in television history. The awkward nerd with the one liners and ability to get the girl in the end was the dude that other awkward dudes wanted to be.
Never change, Seth Cohen.
OH. AND SPEAKING OF…
5 – Anna > Summer.
Anna is better than season one Summer, and THAT’S NOT EVEN REMOTELY FUCKING DISPUTABLE. Sorry, Mr. Guerrero.
Let’s just recap who Summer was and what she did prior to Anna leaving Seth’s life forever:
• she doesn’t even know who Seth is despite his efforts, repeatedly gets his name wrong
• uses Seth’s crush as a way to get invited to a party, ditches him to hit on banker bros
• dumps Seth prior to Cotillion when she thinks she can get a better date
• won’t acknowledge she’s friends with Seth when it actually does happen
• gets hella jealous only when Seth choses Anna, tries to break them up
• generally acts like a spoiled twat for the majority of the season
Ugh, Season One Summer was shitty.
MEANWHILE, Anna is the girl love you to hang out with. She knows all the best bands, likes the same shit you do, helps you out with other girls until you realize that she’s the one who’s totally perfect.
Team freaking Anna forever, man.
6 – You can thank The O.C. for Olivia Wilde, you ungrateful jerks.
That said, Anna didn’t take the title as the top reason for red blooded hetero boys and lesbian gals to turn in. It wasn’t Summer or Marissa either. Nope, that title goes to Alex, a lovely young lady played by total newcomer Olivia Wilde.
Look, I’m not saying it wasn’t easy to get my friends hooked on this show, but I’d be lying if I said having the bisexual Alex as a key cast member in season two hurt the efforts. She was jaw-droppingly hot. She dated both Seth AND Marissa, and it lead to one of the series best moments. You will want to watch this, ya’ll:
Side note, I’ve always found it hilarious that in the video there’s a bottle of J&B just sitting there on a teenage girl’s shelf. Solid choice.
I like to think that it was her role on The O.C. that directly lead to her becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet. Mischa Barton, the other girl in that video, did not go on to superstardom. The reason is obvious now, but back then…
7 – Holy shit, Mischa Barton couldn’t act.
Look, I didn’t watch a lot of TV. I blame my lack of TV viewing experience to explain the fact that back then I didn’t have a problem with Mischa Barton’s character Marissa. It was only after I rewatched the series years later that it was almost painful to watch her try and act. Holy shit she’s awful.
This revelation will be especially noteworthy to my college friends from back then (HI GUYS IF YOU’RE READING THIS LET’S GET DRINKS AND CATCH UP AND STUFF). I, um, had a thing for miss Marissa Cooper. I may or may not have mumbled to myself whenever she’d show up on screen, annoying my friends. She was a damn goddess. Guys, despite the acting issues, she alone makes the show worth watching.
Still can’t act, though.
8 – The fourth season was great.
The first season of The O.C. was amazing.
The second season had some amazing episodes, but signs of erosion were there. Critics opined that they burned through all their ideas too soon.
The third season is where the show went completely off the rails. Good god it was terrible. The audience lost its following, writers stopped doing recaps, people moved on.
Then a weird thing happened: the show got really good again, and nobody watched.
I’m a West Wing nut. I’ve seen the Sorkin era episodes a minimum of ten times over the last ten years. They were spectacular. But when he left the show, the writing got bad by West Wing standards and most people have to add the caveat that when discussing TWW’s greatness, you only speak of the first four seasons.
But those that stuck around know that at the tail-end, in a shortened final season, The West Wing rebounded with some of the best episodes and arcs in series history.
It’s the same story with The O.C.. The last season is legitimately great. They graduated past cliched high school bullshit, gone was the criminal low life element they used in the third season to add drama, the characters were now adults and dealing with more mature plots lines, TAYLOR TOWNSEND DIDN’T SUCK AND WAS TOTALLY ADORABLE.
9 – It was completely ahead of its time.
If there’s a hint of resentment I may have regarding The O.C., its that it came about ten years too early.
TV today is aided greatly by social media. It turns everything you watch live into a social event. Don’t believe me? Log onto Twitter during Mad Men or Game of Thrones or Archer or virtually any sporting event. Appointment TV plus Twitter means you’re never watching anything alone. The world is watching with you (or it seems that way) and you’re able to get real time opinions on everything.
The O.C., in 2003 and 2004, was appointment TV. It was a show loaded with snark and humor and plot twists. It was the kind of show that the Twitter generation could eat up and discuss for days. I can’t even imagine what the online reaction would be to it today.
Guys, what I’m saying is we should all re-watch The O.C. and comment about it on Twitter, basically.
10 – The Best Episodes (according to me)
You have to start from the beginning. You can skip the third episode where Ryan’s mom gets drunk and embarrasses him, but other than that you should watch the whole series. Once you’ve done that, I’m confident you’ll agree with my rankings:
5 – Pilot – Welcome to the O.C., bitch.
4 – The Ties that Bind – Season one finale. CLIFFHANGERS GALORE.
3 – The Countdown – Ryan botches it when Marissa says I love you and it’s totally hilarious. Oliver’s dreams get smashed on New Years. Fuck Oliver, he sucked.
2 – The Dearly Beloved – An important cast member is buried, another one is shot, hella big cliff hanger.
1 – The Rainy Day Women – Seth finds out about Alex and Marissa, Summer makes her choice re: Seth, Lindsey finds out who her father is. It’s pretty much the perfect episode of TV.