Monday, January 28th, 2013

What Made "The O.C." Great, Bitch

"Welcome to the O.C., bitch."
—Luke, "The O.C.," Season 1, Episode 1

Sometimes disorder introduces itself into long-standing order. Such is the plot of almost everything compelling: "Downton Abbey," the evolution of the norovirus, "The Nanny," bedbugs, "Jurassic Park," civil rights, the lineup changes of Foreigner, infidelity. So goes, also, the story of Ryan Atwood, who storms Newport's gated communities with little more than a hoodie, a wrist cuff, a pack of Marlboros and his trademark Chino flair in the pilot episode of "The O.C."

This essay is part of a series about our favorite TV shows past.

Previously: The Joys And Derangement Of "F Troop"

We, perhaps you, and millions of other people of a certain emotional archetype were devoted to "The O.C." We huddled in front of the TV on Tuesday nights with bottles of Boone's Farm and a near-religious fervor. We gasped when Ryan carried Marissa's prone body through the streets of Tijuana ("Tee-hauna," Seth would clarify). We have the orange-and-blue DVD box sets and we will never throw them away no matter how impractical DVDs become. We have described our relationship with the show's first season as both "incredibly, unhealthily obsessive" and also "the best I've ever had."

"It's personal in the deepest possible way," said Ira Glass of his weekly ritual surrounding "The O.C." "I'm 47 years old. I'm a grown-ass man, you know? We're a married couple. Sober. We are sober, singing the theme to a FOX show. And I have got to say, every single week it makes me love my wife, and love TV, and love everything in the world all at once. And last week, when 'The O.C.' went off TV, I cried. And I'm not ashamed to admit it."

The show's fanbase watched so attentively that, years later, IMDB still lists continuity errors like "When Haley is seen at the club dancing, her hair is curled. When she's leaving the club her hair is straightened" (Season 1, Episode 22, "The L.A."). At UC Berkeley, Peter Gallagher's role on the show has been immortalized by the Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship, which supports law students working in the Orange County public defender's office. This is something that exists in real life.

A decade after its first season originally aired, "The O.C." seems both prescient and profoundly of its era. In some ways it's a time capsule of American culture in 2003—Paris Hilton appears as a not-exactly-ironic-but-decidedly-self-referential UCLA-attending version of herself who begs Seth: "Don't tell anyone I'm a grad student, okay?"—but in other ways, the show was groundbreaking. It was the first show to capitalize on the growing popular appetite for indie music, an early champion of nerd culture as default, the first teen soap to be explicitly self-aware. It had a parody of itself (the TV show "The Valley") nested within its universe. The show prompted a resurgence of a golden, West Coast exceptionalist fantasy whose pop-culture descendants have been both regrettable ("The Real Housewives," "The Hills") and terrific (SNL's "The Californians," The Lonely Island's "The Bu").


For those who have never seen "The O.C.": a word.

The ostensible protagonist was Ryan Atwood, a brooding Russell Crowe-lookalike who, when the series begins, is in jail, sitting down with a giant-eyebrowed public defender named Sandy Cohen. Sandy was married to workaholic ice queen Kirsten, whose father Caleb is a real estate mogul who "owns half of Newport." The Cohens' teenage son Seth—picture a young, male, Jewish Liz Lemon, who acts as an audience stand-in and is the real star of the show—becomes Ryan's best friend and confidante when the Cohens decide to install Ryan in their pool house, giving him a shot at a better life.

What this better life looks like for Ryan: a beautiful blonde named Marissa Cooper, the girl next door with sad deer-eyes and prominent collarbones. Marissa's best friend Summer, a travel-sized brunette, has for years been the object of Seth's lifelong unrequited love. Marissa is a secret populist and budding substance abuser whose father is about to commit Madoff-style fraud. Marissa's mother wears Juicy tracksuits and acts as a fierce guardian of her own class anxiety and across-the-tracks background. Marissa's boyfriend Luke is an evil lacrosse stick dipped in grain alcohol (the grain alcohol is also evil).

These ten characters, spanning three generations, meet in six different romantic combinations within the first season. The pilot episode of the show alone covers grand theft auto, cocaine, juvie, white-collar fraud, a seven-figure wealth gap, a threesome in the bathroom of a high school party, brawling, infidelity, alcoholism. Yet the great trick of the show is that it doesn't feel like all that. It feels private, like a diary. It took melodrama and removed the self-importance. It used its carefully engineered exterior of beauty, wealth and scandal to sneak in an interior that was all depth and familiarity and heart.


The appeal of "The O.C." begins (and for some, ends) with the official soundtrack, a billion-footed indie beast that Josh Schwartz, the show's creator, set out to make into a character in its own right. Episodes were often soundtracked before they were scripted. Up-and-coming artists premiered their new songs on "The O.C." and often performed on the show's concert venue The Bait Shop. The audience in turn paid close attention to who was on the roster; when one episode featured the U2 single "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," the reaction was fierce. "Selling out," wrote an Entertainment Weekly columnist, presumably with a straight face. Musically, the show had pulled off a gambit that has since become commonplace; the soundtrack was nominally indie but undeniably popular—stylized and edgy enough for viewers to feel addressed as unique individuals, but approachable and mainstream enough to draw the crowds.

If you compare the music of "The O.C." to other shows of its era, it starts to seem even more remarkable. "Dawson's Creek" ended the same year that "The O.C." began, but the two seem generations apart. Dawson's was all plunky guitar and Alanis Morissette playing over soft-focus, flannel-ridden montages. The same year, "The O.C." featured Röyksopp, LCD Soundsystem, The Pixies, and Tunng, as well as many artists that defined the wave of gloriously sincere early-2000s indie chart-toppers: Feist, Death Cab for Cutie, Wilco, Sufjan Stevens.

Indie-as-middlebrow is standard today, and the "The O.C." doubtlessly played a part in this model's genesis. Were it not for the show, Stephenie Meyer— the most visible force of lowest-common-denominator culture in recent memory—might not now be urging her blog readers to listen to Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective.


"The O.C." drew heavily on one of the most important soap opera conventions: that of erasure, where consequences are few and often impermanent. In the first season of the show, Julie Cooper appears to be happily married, a picture-perfect trophy wife. But by the fifth episode, Julie has filed for divorce; by the tenth, she's dating Kirsten's father. Then, in episode 19, she begins an affair with Luke, her daughter's ex-boyfriend. A few episodes later, Luke is gone and Julie's back with Caleb; the season closes on their wedding and a "Hallelujah" cover.

Luke, who resembled nothing more than a poor man's Casper Van Dien, spent the first season undergoing more character rewrites than anyone else in television history. In the pilot he is a featureless goon in a puka shell necklace, the empty swagger of Newport Beach writ large ("Welcome to the O.C., bitch" is quite rightly the most memorable line from the show, even though Luke is one of its least memorable characters). By the end of episode two, he has displayed a glimmer of self-reflection and at least attempted to save Ryan from a burning model home. By episode seven, he is an unfaithful sociopath, whose public infidelity is largely responsible for Marissa's overdose. From there he confronts his own homophobia after learning his father is gay and in love with another man, sleeps with Marissa's mother Julie, saves Marissa from the wily Oliver, repairs his friendship with the gang, and picks up a guitar and starts dispensing soulful advice. He closes his character arc with perfect equanimity, joking that he'll fall in love with a Portland girl and have to fight her football-captain boyfriend, and will end up on the receiving end of a sucker punch and a "Welcome to Portland, bitch." What other teen drama displayed such self-awareness?

Luke pulls off the ultimate teen dream of self-transformation: he remakes his identity easily and totally, whenever it suits his needs. In the early days of the series, Luke could not make it through a school day without hitting someone; by the time he decamps for Portland, friendly Gay Dad in tow, he practically presses his palms together and murmurs "namaste" at every goodbye. Everything in the world happens to Luke. Nothing does not happen to him. He contains multitudes.


The syllabus for Duke University's course on "The O.C.", titled "California Here We Come: The O.C. and the Self-Aware Culture of 21st-Century America," begins with a quote from Schwartz: "Everybody is hyper self-aware. We live in a post-everything universe."

This "hyper self-awareness" may be what "The O.C." was best at, its desire to stay one ironic step ahead of everything communicated most clearly through one character, the (as described on the Duke syllabus) "nerdy, comic-book reading, plastic-horse-loving, half-Jewish sailor with a keen taste in music named Seth Ezekiel Cohen." With his comic books and Michael Chabon novels in hand, Seth was the reliable, deflationary voice of reason. "You're a Cohen now. Welcome to a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt," he says to Ryan early in the first season. Throughout the show, he does not become more like the other characters, but they become like him, even adopting his hyper-fast and ultra-quirky speech patterns.

Everything that could be criticized about "The O.C." was addressed outright on the show. Benjamin McKenzie, the actor who played Ryan, was frequently called out for looking much older than a teenager; in one episode, Ryan sees the actor who plays his equivalent on a teen soap called "The Valley," and asks, "How does that guy play a high schooler?" Seth sighs. "Hollywood," he says.

As the show progressed, the characters continued voicing their own audience. "I wish I was from the Valley," whines Summer in one episode. "Ugh, they're playing Death Cab on 'The Valley'?" says Marissa's little sister, Kaitlin, in another. "I'm never listening to them again."

The show even addressed its own impending decline in the first holiday episode. "What if it's starting," asks a worried Seth. "The Chrismukkah backlash. What if it's getting too big and commercial. Dude, I knew this would happen, it's like it starts out as this really cool cult holiday, you know, flying beneath the cultural radar, then suddenly it crosses over and there's too much pressure."

In the second season, Marissa embarked on a short-lived lesbian relationship with rebellious club manager Alex Kelly (played by popular fictional lesbian Olivia Wilde) during Sweeps Week. "Hey listen, Alex," Seth tells her when he realizes the two of them are dating. "Thank you. Both of you. For everything. I mean, keep doing what you're doing. I like it."


No other show ascended as high or crashed as hard as "The O.C." When it started airing, it had the highest ratings among 18- to 34-year-olds of any drama on television. The first season was incandescent; the second was wildly uneven (the arrival of Caleb's secret daughter,Kirsten's alcoholism, Marissa's poolside meltdown). But the rest of the show was abysmal and heartless—quick shouts to Taylor Townsend and Trailer Park Julie Cooper, though—and by the time it went off the air in 2007, it had been abandoned by nearly all of its former fanatics.

So what happened? Maybe "The O.C." exhausted the big formulas too quickly; in the classical models of comedy and tragedy, the first season ended with a wedding and the second with a death. Maybe, as with "Gossip Girl," it became impossible for the writers to maintain depth for too long in a setting that was defined by its superficiality. Maybe, as with "Downton Abbey," the initial plot—the outsider becoming the insider, winning hearts, establishing a new and better order—was the only one that carried real urgency.

But probably the real answer is that the show just lost its heart. It happens to most shows. It happens to most things. The relationship a certain kind of young person had with "The O.C." while it lasted was exactly like most of our first relationships, full stop: obsessive, full-throated, and often unrequited. It didn't matter whether your ardor was returned; that person that inspired spirals of conjecture, song lyrics mapped out painstakingly to every twist and turn of behavior. The person was everything, but once you parted ways, you never thought about him or her again.

Previously: The Joys And Derangement Of "F-Troop"

Jia Tolentino lives in Ann Arbor. Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area. Her work has also appeared on The Hairpin, Slacktory and Ecosalon.

52 Comments / Post A Comment

melis (#1,854)

I just want to make it really clear that I never drank Boone's Farm when I watched The O.C. or ever. Jia does not speak for me there.

j-i-a (#241,198)

@melis I'm so glad you didn't edit that part out because that is the most honest sentence in this entire piece for me

petejayhawk (#1,249)

@melis You'll cop to Hawaiian pizza but not Boone's Farm? Your priorities are so out of whack.

jhjhjhj (#7,025)

@j-i-a that was also the absolutely truest part for me as well. and if not boone's farm Mellon Baller, large alcoholic slushies that were sold out of a drive-thru (Missouri!)

karencarrot (#233,871)

@melis I didn't drink Boone's Farm during my weekly viewing of The O.C. either… I made martinis!

keerquie (#3,346)

this was a pitch perfect writeup of my (and my fellow-22-year-olds') relationship with this show. thanks for that.

MattP (#475)

"even though Luke is one of its least memorable characters" What are you, a goldfish?

melis (#1,854)

@MattP yes

we are goldfish with very long institutional memories

my great-grandfish told me tales of the series' original run passed down in song

Elisabeth (#2,540)

Gotta be this guy in this case: ladies, Gilmore Girls, with the character of Rory's best friend, drummer Lane Kim and her boyfriend Dave Rygalski, played by a young Adam Brody, was doing "indie rock on teen TV" quite well, referencing stuff like Belle and Sebastian and whatnot before the O.C. took away Brody and totally mainstreamed it. (And left Lane ALONE, forced to marry Zack. SIGH.) I would also argue that Dave Rgyalski or whatever his name was was the first time the "indie rocker" had been nailed as an archetype. This is obviously the most indie comment in the WORLD.

melis (#1,854)

@Elisabeth It's not even close to the most indie, but it's a good comment nonetheless. While I agree that the Dave/Lane storyline was definitely the genesis of a lot of tropes that would later show up on "The O.C.," you have to take cultural impact into account. GG's highest ratings were just over 5 million around season three; that same year "The O.C." was pulling in 9 million and very nearly reached 10.

Elisabeth (#2,540)

@melis Clearly, the moral is that Adam Brody is magic. (I am waiting for his comeback; he knows how to make something out of wordy dialogue from the likes of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Diablo Cody.)

OnlyBrowsingThanks (#239,542)

@Elisabeth jennifer's body is awesome, i think people were expecting it to be non-camp. but it's camp and it's glorious. adam brody is a doll.

curlysue (#34,091)

@Elisabeth He's still around, just not as popular. I loved him in Damsels in Distress. Witt Stillman is a good outlet for him. Maybe Amy SP could teach him some ballet and feature him in Bunheads.

jhjhjhj (#7,025)

I will defend Season 4 to the death. Taylor Townsend filling in the girlfriend role of Marissa, Kaitlin's rise, Chris Pratt as Summer's college boyfriend "Che," Ryan Atwood suddenly capable of joking…there is everything in the world to love.

phloxx (#13,108)

@Meredith Fay Lovelace I am with you. Season 4 is amazing! Especially because of Taylor Townsend, who is way more interesting than Marissa, and Julie Cooper, with the constantly reinventing herself and yet retaining her core personality.

metoometoo (#230)

@Meredith Fay Lovelace @phloxx Yes, season 4 is fantastically absurd and satisfying and I love it the most!

bnna (#240,111)

@Meredith Fay Lovelace I thought I was the only one with this opinion! Season 4 is the peak of absurdity, satire and self-awareness! Seth smoking weed! The vision quests and spirit animals! Soooo good! I forget everything in season 3, Marissa is the mooooooost boring character ever on TV and I never missed her for a second. I cried too Ira, in the living room of my sophomore dorm building, boons farm in hand.

joshc (#442)

@Meredith Fay Lovelace yessssss. thanks for reassuring me that the later seasons weren't quite so horrible as this celebration of the truly magnificent season one suggested. I was glad to see grown up Taylor Townshend on LAST RESORT, which sadly, only made it for thirteen episodes.

curlysue (#34,091)

@Meredith Fay Lovelace Season 4 definitely had its merits. I read somewhere that once it was determined that S4 would be the last season, Josh S. and company just decided to go all out with it and make it as silly and fun as possible. It's weird to think that the OC only lasted 4 seasons, whereas Gossip Girl dragged out for a few more, and wasn't nearly as good for at least half of its run. Makes you wonder if the show could have lasted longer if online viewing and DVRs were as popular then as they are today.

City_Dater (#2,500)

And Benjamin McKenzie now plays a grown-up rich brat who fled his life of privilege for a blue collar career as a cop.

Music rises: "Circle of Life" from The Lion King.

runaround (#241,250)

You got the cop part right, but not the "grown-up rich brat." Someone from that troubled a background left alone to take care of a seriously needy and damaged mother couldn't possibly be a "brat," not when he was used to taking care of everyone else while he was neglected and left to fend for himself. Sort of like… Ryan both in Chino and once he was in Newport. Deja vu all over again a little?

Mark Waller@twitter (#241,200)

The OC is great, but SEASON 4, Y'ALL! So good and probably the best season of the series as a whole. It did not lose its heart.

theotherginger (#239,519)

@Mark Waller@twitter right?

j-i-a (#241,198)

@theotherginger BEST SEASON OF THE SERIES?? Even with characters named Volchok and Bullitt?? Maybe I just couldn't deal with change well back then. Or Chris Brown as Band Geek:

Don't call it that.

j-i-a (#241,198)

@fondue with cheddar haha I was trying to work that in somehow. Gob WOULD be an O.C. lover

OnlyBrowsingThanks (#239,542)

omg i was obsessed with this show. and as a resident of orange county can i mention that this fucking show was mostly filmed in redondo beach which is in la county? UGH

<3 my baby seth forever and his chemistry with ryan was INSANE.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

I'm pretty sure the O.C. was responsible for my adolescent Marxism lingering on for half a decade longer than it otherwise would have. The self-aware irony just made me hate everything that was being represented even more.

bnna (#240,111)

I haven't read the article yet, but the headline just made my day. I am going to pour a glass of wine, take off my shoes and read the shit out of this.

kulojam (#241,207)

you just validated my 25-year-old self: but it is a really good show! you should watch it!
yeah, thinking about emailing this article to that one particular doubter ("i don't watch teen drama soap operas" with her nose in the air).
and this!: "stylized and edgy enough for viewers to feel addressed as unique individuals, but approachable and mainstream enough to draw the crowds." Melis, you speak to my soul. This show, it knows me! This song is for ME (and holy moly, if i already knew the song/band: confirmation of my cool uniqueness). Vampire Diaries and its soundtrack now fill that void in my heart (ego).

Wow, this couldn't be more relevant to me right now– I've been backpacking alone for five months and I downloaded season 1 of The OC so I had something to pass the time on long bus rides or lonely nights. I never watched the original run (I'm 29, so I was basically the demographic at the time) but I figured since I loved Gossip Girl, the OC would be perfect. These were my observations:

1. Sandy Cohen: great TV dad or GREATEST TV DAD?
2. It's weird watching petulant Marissa Cooper knowing that she will never grow old
3. In 2003 it was an insult to call someone emo
4. Pocketless jeans and reckless layering are rampant (Anna is the biggest perp)
5. Julie Cooper's hair is the worst
6. Never has a show seen so many punches thrown
7. I checked IMDB but it has not satisfied my desire to know what ever happened to Adam Brody?!
8. No one texts but caller ID is a pretty important plot device
9. I was pretty sure Caleb Nichol and Bart Bass were the same actor but apparently they are just the same character
10. Is the theme song in your head now? ♫ doo doo doo doo doooo ♫

Carlos Rubi (#7,331)

@Rachel Anastasia@twitter Regarding #7, he recently made headlines for dating Leighton Meester. Two small-market drama leading actors FOUND LOVE.

I'll give you that most of season three was awful (and even worse to watch, week-to-week–gah, Johnny!), but season four was spectacular. Removing the dead weight of Marissa Cooper did wonders for the show, and the emergence of Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke as the show's MVPs was a sight to behold (as well as Autumn Reeser as Rookie of the Year). The season was wonderful and funny and absurd and felt like Josh Schwartz's love letter to the fans who stuck it out (Ryan and Seth become actual blood brothers!).

I'm almost ready to forgive every Oliver and Johnny and Rebecca Bloom because this show gave me some fabulous montages, from Coldplay's "Fix You" playing when Kirsten finds out Caleb has died to "All My Days" by Alexi Murdoch at the Cohen family Thanksgiving to the greatest ever: "Life Is a Song" by Patrick Park in the series finale's final moments.

As to what caused the fall of The OC… I think the insanely packed first season (27 episodes!) has something to do with it. Network interference in the beginning of the third season (Charlotte – yuck!) and then neglect to promote it in the Thursday 9pm deathslot (up against Grey's Anatomy at the height of its popularity) in the later seasons may have also caused a decline in ratings. Because the fourth season saw a resurgence in quality and consistence that was unmatched the previous two years.

joshc (#442)

@Sara Rogovin@twitter the O.C. plot contrivance that I find hardest to forgive is Kirsten's "alcoholism", and really anything that threatened the beloved bedrock that was the Cohen marriage. Was that also Season Three? Uggh.

@joshc That was season two. I actually thought that was a believable plotline considering Kirsten's backgrounds and all the foreshadowing that led up to it. It was emotionally resonant for me – her intervention in the S2 finale? Wow, the cut to Adam Brody standing there pleading with her to get help.

The problem was once she was sober, there wasn't much left for her to do because she had become fragile. There wasn't really a place for her in the frankly alcohol-soaked Newport world anyway.

I have much more of a problem with Sandy's infidelity with Rebecca in S2, but it was interesting nonetheless to explore the foundations of that core relationship, even if the execution was sometimes muddied.

(Let's just forget about Charlotte, the rehab con artist from hell.)

j-i-a (#241,198)

ok ok guys mallory and i are both going to watch season 4 again, we are open to our human fallibility, there's always room to grow

Leigh @twitter (#241,502)

@j-i-a Season 4 really is a great ride. Wonderfully weird and back to its roots a bit.

Sirius Black (#241,218)

excellent article.

Thank you for writing this post (and not just because I now know of the Sandy Cohen Scholarship and Duke's O.C. Class). You summed wonderfully a lot of what made the show great, but you did neglect one of the things I rank up there with all of the other O.C. glory you have fleshed out. ..How the show deals with death, especially as a teen show. Few teen shows will have a main character die, let alone the initial leading lady…AND really show how the friends, family, and the show itself are dealing with it. I think what makes season 4 work for me, it's really seeing grief fleshed out; grief over Marissa, and the show itself. Death happens in Dawson's Creek, and Beverly HIlls 90210, but not with the serious aftermath the O.C. deals with. Of course Buffy also tackles it, but it goes it's a bit of a different animal of the supernatural pulse of the show. If you're thinking it sure sounds like this girl is thinking about these things a lot, why yes, you are correct. I've done a series of paintings of Marissa :

metoometoo (#230)

@ElizabethGrammaticas@twitter Every week I would hope that this would be the episode where Dawson drowns in his creek, which would then be renamed in his memory, allowing the show to continue indefinitely without having to change the name.

@metoometoo THAT WOULD BE SO GOOD.

Thank you for this. That Ira Glass quote was great. I never heard that episode. So glad to hear that.

alice8ling (#241,170)

Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

runaround (#241,250)

Thanks for some terrific nostalgia. We always said that Ryan's legal name should have been Poor Ryan because his life was one exhausting mess after another, or actually cleaning up everyone else's messes. We loved Ryan and Sandy. What a terrific dynamic and two outstanding actors in Ben and Peter. Seth had the one-liners, but got on our last nerves and shredded them to bits. It was a shame that the slash and burn blitzkrieg storytelling was the show's downfall, that and deviating from the initial premise way too quickly to the perils of Cooperdom. Save us!

The excellent, the good, the bad and the just plain ugly. You've got me wanting to get the gang together somehow and pull out a few DVDs. Ah, memories on screen and goings on off.

curlysue (#34,091)

@runaround agreed! I think there's a strong case to be made that Sandy and Ryan were the show's most significant core relationship, especially considering how the series ends with Ryan encountering a mini-Ryan and potentially taking him under his wing ala Sandy.

I've had many conversations with my 30-something female friends about who is the most crush-worthy male on the show, and many of them always cited Seth. I personally always found him way too similar to the wishy-washy, self-obsessed hipsters I dated at the time. Sandy Cohen may actually have been my first TV dad crush.

curlysue (#34,091)

Loyal OC viewer here for all four seasons. Speaking to your point about the show's self-referential quality, my favorite example of this was in Season 1 after Marissa has OD'd and the gang is plotting to break her out of the hospital so her evil mom doesn't send her to rehab. Several weeks earlier, in real life, Tom Shales, the TV critic for the Washington Post, had slammed the series in his review. So the show's response was to write him into the plot as a patient at the hospital. Summer, posing as a candy striper, says to Seth, "Tom Shales is incontinent." Brilliant.

One word: yogalates.
I kind of feel the headline of this article can be answered simply thus: Peter Gallagher. And Peter Gallagher's eyebrows.

I"m 46 now and still miss this show. I was active on as summerlovin. All four seasons were amazing to me. No show before or since has affected me like this one. The O.C. Made me want to put myself into this show with these people. I wanted to know them. To hang out and be one of them. That's pretty special. Probably once in a lifetime. Who knows why and who cares?

lazylinepainterjane (#241,344)

I first discovered the OC right before the second season premiere, when I watched the entire first season on DVD in two days. I remained a loyal view til the end and even got a DVR when I found out that I had to take a class in college at the same time as the show aired in season three. I'm surprised that Rachel Bilson, Mischa Barton and Adam Brody weren't able to sustain the careers that they seemed set for when the show first became popular.
I don't know why, but the slowed down version of "California Here We Come" used in the carnival episode always makes me cry.

shehadtheworld (#241,606)

Excellent article. The first season of The O.C. was truly fantastic television and I'm really glad to see such an in-depth article about the show, nearly 6 years on. While I do agree that season 2 was uneven, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt the decline of the show came in season 3 with the introduction of Charlotte, Johnny, Volchok etc. I do believe that season 3 did offer some brilliant episodes, the first and last especially. I can see why a lot of viewers did not like Marissa but I actually loved her despite all of her whining and drama. Her relationship with Ryan was always my favourite as well. While Season 4 was really good, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I wished I did. Honestly though, the show never lost its heart, ever. I watched the show since 2004 and it remains my favourite show. Thank you for this article, seriously – brought back a lot of good memories.

lilibyname (#260,916)

I don't know how many articles I've thanked you for Jia, but here is the weightiest one yet: THANK YOU. Thank you for confirming that my teenhood wasn't a total cultural waste of space. LONG LIVE SEASON ONE.

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