As y’all know, being topical is my number-one priority, and today is no exception, for this is no repost! I’ve been rewatching the series with Josh, and have to say that I love it more than ever. I totally expected to loathe this show, yet fell in love with it instead. While it dipped in S2 and 3, it was still entertaining and beyond palatable on DVD, and S1 and 4 ROCK.
So I recommend this show with two thumbs up, and here is why!
1) The Cast
Surprise, I know! It always goes back to the cast, for me. This is how I know about the Gulden’s mustard campaign starring Cindy Crawford from “Picture Perfect.” Anyway, I’ve written about Peter Gallagher’s Sandy before, but the entire cast is pretty amazing. Mischa Barton’s Marissa could be hit or miss, but I’m one of her apologists because she had some amazing moments and I relate to her mood swings and love for wounded men. And on a shallow note, she’s just so heartbreakingly pretty.
Also, Summer loved Marissa, and that is good enough for me, because Rachel Bilson’s Summer is one of my all-time favorite characters, and my favorite on the show, which is saying a lot. Josh said earlier that she is the most dynamic one on the show in terms of character development, and I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s cool that she was only supposed to be on for a handful of episodes, but was so beloved and wonderful that she became part of the core cast.
^^^ Plus! Little Miss Vixen ftw! ^^^
I’m sure you’ve all heard about Adam Brody’s success, and the ensuing backlash. And while I appreciate the hipsterism of not wanting geek to go mainstream, I think Brody’s Seth was an awesome character, and that he was awesome in the role. He was funny, self-deprecating, and I think helped usher in a new wave of television, because sometimes the people with the money need to see the money to know that someone is worth putting on screen. Do you know what I mean? Also I think that Adam Brody did some damn-fine acting on “The O.C.”
Ben McKenzie’s Ryan is great. From an acting standpoint, I think he got one of the more thankless roles, because when he’s not punching people, he mainly plays the straight man, but Ben IMO develops so much as an actor over “The O.C.’s” four seasons, and got a more….thankful…bit of meat to chew on in Season Four, and knocks it out of the park.
“I always had a soft spot for Taylor Townsend,” one of my friends commented recently and WHO CAN BLAME HIM because Autumn Reeser’s Taylor shows up like a firework, and singlehandedly improves the show with her presence. I literally and fittingly started clapping and cheering when she appeared on my television in the S3 DVDs that Josh so kindly bought for us.
There are many other “Youngs” that were so awesome – Luke, a character that I never stopped missing when he left the show to go be on “Smallville,” Alex, my personal ‘ship for Marissa. Anna, who is an awesome part of one of my favorite scenes on the show (Wonder Woman versus comic artist!). The fabulous Trey and Volchok, great Ostensible Villains With Hearts. Caitlin, who must have had so much fun playing that role, and who gets better and better the more she works with the cast around her. Even Johnny and Chili and “Freaks and Geeks” Maureen, though I did not so much enjoy that whole storyline, were good in their roles. Same thing with Zach. The list goes on.
I do not remember whether it was Danny Drennan or Tara Ariano who coined the phrase “The Olds,” in relation to “Beverly Hills 90210,” but it is an awesome way of describing the parents et al., who star in a teen soap yet are not teens. I say this as someone who’s troublingly more in this age bracket than The Youngs, here in 2013. But the gist from the term “The Olds” is that adults are boring, especially when you have pretty teenagers (albeit in their 20s) going to high school in California.
However, The Olds on “The O.C.” are pretty freaking awesome. Alan Howe’s Caleb Nichol (RIP) was the oldest, and instead of being one of those dudes in a blue suit from ‘70s movies, was more slick, “Game of Thrones” meets “Sopranos” patriarch.
Kelly Rowan’s Kirsten, like Ryan, got an often-thankless role, but is perfect in every single scene that she is ever in, and her relationship with Ryan is one of my favorites on the show.
Melinda Clarke’s Julie Cooper is – where to begin. First of all, that woman does not look like a real human person so much as an a feline anime queen, and I mean that as a total compliment. I. Freaking. LOVE Julie Cooper. It’s funny watching the series with Josh because these people show up behaving reprehensibly and I’m all SQUEE because I know how awesome they become, like Taylor and Julie. The evolution of Julie Cooper is reason enough to watch this show. And rewatching the show now is going to finally get me to break down and watch “Vampire Diaries,” because I need my Melinda Clarke fix.
And again, there are many other Olds on the show who I think are great. I have a heart for poor downtrodden Jimmy Cooper, and really liked Hayley, though she’s sort of in between the two age groups, as far as the show goes.
Anyway you get my point: Good Cast, so let’s move on!
2) The Music
I think it’s really cool that Deathcab for Cutie found greater success because of “The O.C.” heavily featuring them, and that it was because Adam Brody loved the band so much, kind of like Moldy Peaches in “Juno.” While I actually knew and loved Deathcab before “The O.C.,” (HIPSTER ALERT!) the show used Deathcab’s music so well that it helped seal them into my musical soul.
I didn’t think Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” could ever mean more to me, until “The O.C.” showed me that it could. Same with Mazzy Starr’s “Into Dust.” “The O.C.” also does an amazing job at featuring awesome covers used really well, from Jem’s “Amazed” to whoever covered a Radiohead song in the last ep we watched (I did not know this; Josh told me). To…something I will discuss in a later bullet point! Also, I was introduced to a lot of awesome new songs, thanks to this show.
The score on this show is either underlying and not noticeable, or it reminds me of Christophe Beck who scored “Buffy” S1-4. Both of these are good things. Even the earworm that is Phantom Planet’s “O.C.” theme song is perfect. I like also that the times this show uses older music (covers notwithstanding) are few, far between, and fitting.
3) The OCD-Level Meta
Back in the day, I wrote a blog wherein I complained about the heavy meta of this show. Upon rewatch, I can understand my former PoV, but especially now with the perspective of having seen the entire series, I find the meta kind of charming, often impressive, and usually comforting.
And then there are things like how – I don’t want to be overly spoilery, so I will just say it was cool how S1 featured “Hallelujah” in the finale after using it in “The Model Home,” then in S2’s finale featured Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek,” then in the S3 finale used Imogen Heap covering “Hallelujah.” Shit like that brings me great joy. Today’s S4 ep usage of an “Into Dust” cover reminded me of just how clever the show can be. I also like all of their references to other teen/women soaps, such as when Dr. Roberts went to work at Seattle Grace, and the time when someone in the background had a sign saying “Marissa Cooper Graduates.” The list of these shoutouts goes on and on and on, and it pleases me to wonder how many are flying right over my head.
Josh is insanely accommodating to my ridiculousness at large. He Netflixed S1 of “The O.C.” because he knew how much I wanted to watch it again. And while I know that he would have humored my desire to watch it with him, it’s always fun to see him get into a show that I like, especially one that could be conceived as girly. He gets a lot of the Seth references about comics, video games, music, and cinema, and hearing him expand on them makes me feel cooler by proxy. Watching it with him has brought not only many a guffaw from me due to Josh’s snarkiness, but also much deeper insight into the characters, including California itself.
5) How They Pulled It Together
TWoP’s summation of this show has always broken my heart a little bit, because it’s spot on, and also true to my experience as a viewer. They said that “The O.C.” started feeling stale in S2 after “a stellar first season,” and that “a strong fourth season wasn’t enough to undo the damage.” In terms of viewership, not quality.
Fair ‘nuff. I wrote rant-y blogs during S2 and S3, and fell out of touch somewhere during S3, due in equal parts to my frustration with the show, and round-the-clock work hours with no DVR.
So I only saw S4 for the first time a few years ago, and man, does it rock. I actually loved rewatching S2 and 3 and as I mentioned before, I don’t hate Marissa like many people do. So I love the entire show, but S4 rivals S1 in terms of greatness. Honestly, I don’t know which season I like better, but 4 has the competitive advantage of the built-up story history and developed characters. The ep we watched today was the last Chrismukkah episode of the series, and that made me very emotional! Then very pleased, as I did not remember much of the episode whatsoever. While I have an insane television memory, as with most things, I need repeated viewings for an ep to stick in my brain. It’s fun seeing “new” “O.C.s.” All of the solidest actors are still doing their thing (Sandy, Kirsten, Julie, Seth), while The (other) Youngs kick ass, now awesome actors in their own right. The presence of Taylor alone makes the show 200% more fantastic, as well.
I don’t remember much about the series finale save for one detail, but I do remember that it was absolutely fabulous. Though I will sob at saying goodbye to this show again, I’m looking forward to it all the same.