Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Eugoogly: The O.C.

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 23, 2007

All things must pass

The O.C.

I made a conscious decision at the end of the last season to stop watching The O.C. The show, which had once been the leading (and for a while, only) light of my primetime TV watching had stagnated–plots were getting redundant (Marissa finds another dude to play nurse to, and is shocked, SHOCKED to find out that he’s actually in love with her–pattern recognition was never a strong suit for the Coopers), new characters were unwelcome (a pox on anyone who ever thought Taylor Townsend was a good idea) and the show’s freshness just wasn’t there anymore. To be fair, this is as much personal as anything else–my happiest O.C. related memories are of watching the show with my friends in high school, and watching it on my own just wasn’t the same. So, when Mischa Barton jumped ship to start a movie career (how’s that going, by the way?) it seemed like as good a time as any for me to take off as well.

And obviously I wasn’t the only one, as ratings for season four of The O.C. were an all-time low for the show, and halfway through the season, FOX made the (probably wise) move to cancel it. So low was the fanfare for the show during its final days that I totally forgot that it was even airing its series finale last night (not that I would’ve watched anyway, I was busy with NBC). But I figured that I owed the show enough for the two-three seasons of joy it gave me to at least give the finale a watch, so I decided to download it.

And though it definitely confirmed that letting go had been the right decision, I gotta say, it was a pretty good series finale. Much has changed since I last left off, most of which I knew about through Wikipedia–Summer temporarily dropped out of school and moved in with Seth, Taylor and Ryan had gotten together for some reason and then broken up, Julie and Kirsten both got pregnant, and an earthquake destroyed the Cohen house, forcing them to move in with the Coopers temporarily. The plots aren’t the only things to change–everyone looks so different from what I remember, way more than a year older–it’s almost eerie how much Caitlin looks like Marissa now, even down to the way she dresses. And Ryan, he actually talks now–even when not being spoken to first. It’s ridiculous.

Still, The O.C. is The O.C., and the finale pretty much trots out the time-honored plots you’d expect–Julie is supposed to get married to another super-rich suitor, but begins to have second thoughts, Taylor and Ryan pretend they don’t want to get back together but hook up anyway, Seth and Summer wonder if they need time apart, Sandy and Kirsten wonder if maybe it’s time to leave Newport, etc. Lots of goodbyes, lots of crying, lots of new beginnings–it’s a finale for certain. It even climaxes with that shot-of-shots for a series finale, where a character looks around a space that holds memories and begins to hear and see those memories as if they were currently happening. It’s cliched, sure, but it’s also exactly what a show as rooted in comfort and tradition as The O.C. calls for.

On the whole, The O.C. will probably go down as one of the definitive shows of the decades, an I Love the 00s first-tierer. People might say it was the Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place of its day, and that’s probably true to an extent, but not completely, since what I always found so interesting about this show is that it had the exact reverse trajectory of those shows. Whereas 90210 or Melrose started out as semi-believable family and freind dramas and just got more and more scandalous and ridiculous as time went on, The O.C. did the opposite, starting out at a scandalous peak–the first episode had threesomes, modeling shows, copious drug and alcohol, and stupid catchphrases and fistfights to spare, all except the last of which were totally gone from the show by halfway through the first season, unless they were being all Very Special Episode about it.

Instead, the show turned out to at its core being a testament to the importance of family and freinds, to Ryan and Seth’s brother-bond and Kirsten and Sandy’s superhero parenting. As such, it was a show that didn’t take kindly to outsiders–outside of the Cohens, the Coopers and Summer (and I suppose Taylor, though I’d like to believe she’d have gotten the axe eventually), no one else lasted on the show for too long, especially those (ex-lovers, shady business partners, other assailants) who threatened the family unit. At heart, The O.C. probably has more in common with The Cosby Show than Laguna Beach, which is why so many people who don’t normally find themselves going for melodrama, teen or otherwise, found themselves so drawn to the show.

Well, that and the indie rock. If there’s another legacy that The O.C. leaves behind, it’ll be in helping to establish the genre as one with certifiable commercial potential, thanks to Seth’s constant namedropping and the bands the cast would regularly see at the show’s fictitious and super-improbable hangout The Bait Shop. Since the show’s premiere, two of the bands in the Seth Cohen Starter Pack, The Shins and Death Cab for Cutie, have had #2 debuts on the album charts, and the other, Bright Eyes, sent two albums to the top 20 simultaneously. Sure, there were other factors at play–a certain life-changing movie obviously one of them–but the importance of The O.C. in establishing these guys, as well as radio breakthroughs like Modest Mouse and The Killers, really can not be understimated.

And perhaps most importantly, The O.C. had a tremendous impact on my life. Not that I started wearing wifebeaters and picking fistfights at random, but before The O.C., I don’t think I had ever really cared about watching a primetime TV show with regularity, at least not a non-animated one. I could probably attribute my current interest in TV, which has continually grown since the show debuted four years ago, to the one fateful night I decided to watch the series premiere with a bunch of kids from my Boston summer program–and though you could argue about whether or not that’s a positive thing on the whole, I certainly don’t regret it.

The O.C. ends with a flash-forward, showing Julie going back to school and Caitlin graduating, Kirsten and Sandy settling into their new Berkley home with their blonde little girl, and Seth and Summer getting married. But the show’s final scene is one of Ryan, now an apparently successful architect, seeing a troubled-looking kid hanging alone by a telephone, an immediate callback to Ryan’s appearance in the show’s first episode. “Hey kid!” he calls out. “Need some help?” California, here we come, right back where we started from…

9 Responses to “Eugoogly: The O.C.”

  1. Anton said

    I turned this episode on in the middle. I couldn’t take it seriously because the first thing I saw on the screen was the face fucking Kevin Sorbo. I knew it was the O.C. and then all of a sudden, Hercules was there. I tried to deal with it – I too, had some nostalgic affinity for this show – but the fact that he was in a suit instead of in that sleeveless v-neck (more like v-chest or even v-stomach, even) was like watching the old Phil Hartman skit, “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.” Who the hell gave Kevin Sorbo a suit?? It’s so out of place. There is a reason that the first thing he did after all those Legendary Journies was Krull. Can’t believe you didn’t chime in on this, man. Has this just been going on for longer than I’ve realized? Have I missed something? Was that just some guy who looked just like Sorbo, but wasn’t? How could that be? I feel like I was lucky to even recognize him without a CG Hydra (Lucy Lawless) on screen with him. And the suit!

  2. Andrew Unterberger said

    I’ve actually never seen a single episode of Hercules (or Xeena, for that matter)–I had to keep checking the dude’s Wikipedia entry to remind myself why that name sounded so familiar. One 90s trend I definitely missed out on.

  3. Anton said

    Oh man, that is really too bad, I was subconsciously looking forward to a blog entry from you about the evolution of the primetime drama with the supernatural twist, with hattips to Hercules and Xena, X-Files, Buffy, all the way through the recent trend that I’ve been curious about but never jumped on, such as Heroes and Supernatural.

  4. Michael Maxvill said

    Your grandmother alerted me to your blog. Nice obituary for a wayward show. I used to love it, recently I just liked it. It didn’t hold as high of a priority on my TIVO as it once did, but it never fell to the level of “I need to watch this show to get it off my TIVO.” (The Office was partly responsible for the OC’s depth chart drop).

    The writers did a decent job of getting past Marissa’s character with Taylor and by making the show more wholesome. The ending did not do justice to Ryan’s relationship with Marissa, more closure or at least more attention was necessary than a picture in a locket and a brief Ryan memory. I bet the writers were still bitter about her departure and decided to short-change her character.

    I’ll miss the OC.

  5. […] Example: I don’t watch much television these days, but I did see the final episode of the OC. So, imagine Seth Cohen writing a few blog entries each week. He talks about indie music, comic books and Summer Roberts. A studio could simply pay a college student to manage the blog and occasionally give him or her a few specific topics or ‘keywords’ to mention. These keywords or events would then appear in future show scripts. The uber fans smile when they catch the references on prime time, because they have a special connection with these characters through sneak peeks into their private lives. […]

  6. Heather said

    Good News!!! THE OC IS BACK!!! It will be airing on SOAPnet on weeknights beginning April 9th at 6pm/5c!!!

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  8. izidkus said

    I heard a pair of pumping final fantasy sex hentai my skirt was slightly ajar and.

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    After a groan. We browsed for the whip horny babe your rear again.

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