YES. This week folks, we revisit the magic that was The OC. It started when I was 16. Channel 4 started airing the show autumn 2003, just as I started sixth form. It was exciting, ridiculous and unlike anything I had ever seen before. So glossy! So beautiful! So rich! So much sun! Let the looking back commence…. (full disclosure: there be spoilers ahead)
It was overblown and dramatic nonsense right from the start. I mean, just watch the first season trailer
Amazing, no? So much action, intensity, brooding and teen trouble crammed into just one minute. Can you imagine how much there was to enjoy in a whole season?
The OC took us into the world of a privileged community most of us had never heard of, all through the eyes of a ‘troubled’ outsider. He – and we, by extension – is trying to get his head around the freedom, the access, the expensive clothes, the never ending parties and enjoying the ride in the process. And boy, what a ride it is.
In season one, we have story lines that included the following: alcoholism, child neglect, prison, juvenile detention, assault, guns, teen alcoholism, suicide attempts, cheating, fraud, therapy, divorce, teen obsession, first loves, sex, hostage situations, wayward siblings, secretly gay dads, realising the school nerd was actually hot, Rooney (whatever happened to them?), alopecia afflicted horses, yogalates, sailing, Julie Cooper – SO MUCH STUFF YOU GUYS. And that was just the first season. There were three more to go! Clearly, some of these topics are more serious than others, but in the glossy world of the OC, no problem ever lingered for too long, however much Marissa Cooper tried to prove us wrong.
Ah, Marissa. I totally loved her (even when it all started to go wrong). When the OC first started we all wanted to be Marissa (even though Summer clearly had more fun). I was still young enough to believe that copious problems = complex and interesting, so I totally bought into all her troubled teen issues. Now there was a genuinely disastrous kid. She was also my style icon for years (and even now, really). I started using blue eyeliner like Marissa, wearing Marissa like headbands and would still wear most of her outfits. I mean, look at how cute this sample is!:
Most people were in one camp or another when it came to their chosen OC dreamboat: Summer or Marissa; Ryan or Seth. All signs pointed to my being a Seth girl, but I was firmly in the Ryan camp. To me, Seth was like your little brother or annoying-but-funny friend. Ryan on the other hand was brooding and serious (making the odd joke he cracked particularly notable) who could always be relied upon to save the day. I also appreciated his general lack of talking…I have always been drawn to taciturn people as I am…umm…the opposite.
However, as much as I was a Ryan fan and loved Marissa’s style, I would argue that Seth and Summer made the show. Ostensibly the show revolved around the Ryan/Marissa dynamic and their various problems, but the comedic skills shown by Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson (thank God they moved Summer out of boring-high-school-bitch mode) and the ongoing banter and chemistry between Seth and Summer were a highlight for me and I’m sure, for many others. Though they got more serious storylines later in the show, there was always something reliable and comforting about their back and forth and series of jokes. Seth and Summer 4eva!
My other favourite dynamic on the show was Ryan and Seth. The original teen show ‘bromance’ (ugh, I hate that word) these two had each other’s backs from the beginning and some of my least favourite times on the show were when they weren’t talking or hanging out for whatever reason. It was always waaaaaay worse than the break-ups with their girlfriends.
I’ve talked about the kids, but we now get to talk about the parents! This was a teen show, so the parents were obviously far too young to have such mature children and impossibly beautiful. Kirsten and Sandy were dream TV parents; taking Ryan in and making him part of their family, letting him live in their ridiculous pool-house, despite the fact that they clearly had an enormous house with plenty of room. They were fun, tried to understand their kids, had some sort of open door policy for waifs and strays and really, didn’t seem to have all that many rules. And Ryan and Seth repaid them by… well, behaving pretty well 90% of the time, actually. They did occasionally screw up, but never irreparably. They were this lovely, cosy family who – let’s face it – we all wanted to be a part of. (Although, AS IF Sandy Cohen would have actually just taken Ryan into his home in real life. AS IF *insert massive eye-roll here*. Kristen is always made to seem like the bad guy, the dream-quasher in those first few episodes when actually, she’s being totally reasonable.)
But alongside Kirsten and Sandy there was the amazing, ridiculous, scheming, manipulative, hilarious Julie Cooper, aka my favourite character. Julie was Marissa’s mom who started out vain, shallow and controlling and generally pretty loathed by her daughter. However, along with the exuberant performance of Melinda Clarke in the role, Julie softened, found extra depths to her character and became a great comedic part. Through the course of the show, Julie marries a man twice her age, becoming even richer and Kirsten’s step-mother in one fell swoop. She conducts an affair with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, has an affair with her ex-husband, starts a match-making business, loses all her money and lives in a trailer, breaks up with her boyfriend while managing to keep his house, asks Ryan to kill Volchek as revenge for Marissa’s death, accidentally starts a prostitution ring, falls in love with Ryan’s ex-con father – all the while dressing impeccably and scheming constantly. She was amazing and I love her.
Honourable mentions for being awesome go to Seth’s other season one love interest, Anna (Samaire Armstrong) who was the coolest gal ever, Luke (Chris Carmack) Marissa’s ex who went from jerk boyfriend to puppy-dog-like-bud of Ryan’s all in the same season (the show’s short term memory is CRAZY, y’all) and my other OC Queen, Taylor Townsend (Autumn Reeser) who was hilarious and a great foil for both Ryan and Seth. Reeser’s presence really invigorated season 4 and I was sorry to get so little of her.
So guys, if you’re not watching or re-watching; what are you waiting for? In this brief run-down, I haven’t even covered season 2 – 4, crazy Oliver, Lindsey (ugh), Alex, Zach, Atomic County and so on and so forth. It’s full of drama, humour, friendship, love and more sunshine than this Brit could ever imagine possible. I leave you with some other great OC links and… yogalates.
*Incidentally, Phantom Planet was the first ‘proper’ gig I ever went to. They were good!