Now, officially, it is two days since the tin anniversary of the magic that was The O.C. – but I post about TV on Wednesdays. Plus, this time ten years ago, people were anxiously anticipating a follow-up to an incredible pilot episode. So it is still very much relevant. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I am fond of this show without any shame. I think it’s smart, funny, and often self aware – three things that I feel can make a show. It’s impeccably well cast, with well-developed characters at its heart and in its extended family. Some storylines – not to name names, but Marissa’s – were often dull and over-dramatic to the point of unwatchable; but I felt that the better ones made up for it. Even before the show descended into the manic, self-reflective mess that was Season Four (which I loved, by the way). I have watched The O.C. all the way through at least three times, and I would again.
But this isn’t a time for defending the show. It’s a time for celebration, reminiscence, and bagels. Never forgetting an absolutely necessary California singalong. For much of today I’ve been reading this article, which I found enlightening and sentimental. In the best way. It is eye-opening to see The O.C. that could have been, with down to the wire choices between Needlemans and Cohens, or Hanimas and Chrismukkah. As a devout yearly celebrator of Chrismukkah, it is unimaginable.
So what do I love about The O.C.? I love everything. Well, that isn’t true. I didn’t like Marissa. I liked her bisexual relationship with Olivia Wilde’s Alex, and I liked her untimely death, but that’s all. I think it could be time for a top five of my favourite things about The O.C. -being it such an important anniversary, I can’t afford to skimp on word count.
1. Family Love
An odd one, but I like the warm feeling that The O.C. gives me. Starting immediately in the pilot episode with Sandy and Kirsten’s kindness and adoption of unfortunate Ryan, and constantly continuing throughout the seasons. The way that the Cohens treat Julie as family, the way that Julie allows Taylor to move in, the incredible parenting techniques of Kirsten and Sandy. I believe that at the very heart of The O.C., underneath class divides and drama, is family.
2. Julie Cooper’s Character Development
First time through, I hated Julie. I thought she was a stone cold bitch – in a bad way. I thought she was selfish and shallow, and a bad parent to boot. Despite being pretty good looking and funny, I didn’t think that any woman who could sleep with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend could be a good person. I was wrong. On further viewings I have learnt to see that Julie not only develops massively from season to season, but is just a good woman at heart. By the finale – when she decides not to marry Bullitt for money and instead goes to college to better herself – it is clear that her family are at the centre of all of her bad decisions. And that is why I will always stand by my love of Julie Cooper.
The O.C. is centered around a collision of cultures and classes, and Chrismukkah is the sweetest representation of this. Everybody is included, and both major December-time religions are encompassed. Chrismukkah is summed up as “many days of presents, followed by one day of many many presents” and this is the epitome of what we all secretly want from Christmas-time. The Chrismukkah episode of season two – “The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t” – is almost the sweetest thing I have ever see on TV. Chrismukkah episodes are a regular feature of Christmas-time at our house, and they give me the fuzziest feeling. Precious.
4. Sandy Cohen
Have you ever seen such a wise and loving Jewish father? Yes, probably. But Sandy is especially wise and especially Jewish. After reading in the HuffPo article that Jeff Goldblum was almost Sandy, I wasn’t sure how I felt. Peter Gallagher and his incredible eyebrows are very close to my heart, as the father figure to all. No matter what his children (and adopted children) do – running away, burning down offices, getting arrested – he is still the wisest man around. Funny, too – in an embarrassing, dad humour kind of way. I will never forget his and Seth’s sex talk, and I will forever be wishing that Sandy Cohen had been my father – perhaps I would have made better choices.
5. Season Four
Who could forget the most ridiculous season in the history of television? After three years of drama, Marissa’s death seemed to free up the writers to go absolutely mental. Coma and alternate reality episodes, Hercules, massive time leaps, earthquake episodes, Taylor. Oh, precious Taylor. After three years of tears and alcoholism, it was nice to laugh. The descent into pure insanity and self-reflexivity was a relief, even if it left me screaming “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING” and tearing my hair out. Themed episodes can either be my favourite or least favourite thing, and season four was full of them.
So that is my O.C. retrospective. It isn’t objective, it isn’t critical – it’s personal. The O.C. is close to my heart and I spent a good couple of hours thinking about it so that we could talk about it. Happy tin anniversary, O.C. xo