Tonight’s the night, kiddies. After 4 years, 92 episodes and countless fist fights, The OC comes to a close. While to some The OC may have just been an indulgent, escapist soap about the lives of rich teens in Orange County, to me it was much more. It was about love, and how it can change a life. It was about friendship, and how it makes life more meaningful. It was about a family who put no strict definition on the word. It was about that family sticking together and standing by each other, no matter what. Over the past 4 years and 92 episodes, the Cohens made me feel like a part of their family. And this is my way of thanking them. I invite you to join me as I pay tribute to my other family: Sandy, Kirsten, Ryan, Seth, Summer, Marissa, Taylor, Anna, Luke, Kaitlin, Jimmy Cooper, Julie Cooper, Caleb, Captain Oats, Princess Sparkle and all those that they’ve befriended (or beat up) over the years. As Sandy Cohen said many moons ago, “You could do worse.”
Not to sound like the FOX promo department or anything, but when The OC began, it truly was a phenomenon. It debuted the summer before my senior year of high school, and everyone watched. Was it because it was the summer and nothing else was on? I don’t know. (My personal attraction was that Adam Brody was my main TV boyfriend at the time because of his stint on Gilmore Girls, but that’s another story.) But it felt magical and it sucked you in. By the time school started, everyone was hooked. School gossip was a thing of the past, all anybody wanted to talk about was the students of Harbor High and was Marissa going to survive her TJ bender? While some tuned in for the hot bodies, cute clothes and scandalous stories, I became increasingly more drawn to the familial aspect of the show. It was no secret then nor is it now that I’m a lonely soul and the love that the Cohens had for each other, and that the Core Four had for each other warmed my cold, cold heart and made me feel less alone.
Sure, some people jumped ship after the Oliver arc, but for the most part, Season 1 was a mighty big deal. Some say the show lost its zing after Season 1, that Season 1 burned through so many storylines and stunts that there was nothing left to see, but I disagree. I don’t know if it’s out of loyalty or sentimentality, but something kept bringing me back. Yes, Season 2 had it’s bumps (namely Alex and Zack. And Billy Campbell and Kim Delaney.) but even through the overwrought love triangles and random lesbianism during sweeps month, the show still maintained its witty banter, its self-deprecating air, and most importantly, its heart. Season 3 brought along some more tests of patience (Johnny, Chili, EvilSandy, EvilJeriRyan and a guy named Volchok) but it also give birth to one Taylor Townsend.
Its the end of Season 4 now, and nobody’s watching, which is fine with me, as it’s been my experience that a show’s best work often happens when only a core audience is left. I personally think Season 4 has definitely been the best season since Season 1, and if I weren’t so emotionally attached to Season 1 and all that it represents in my memory, I might even say it’s been better. The show has gone back to being focused on the family, Autumn Reeser has been a nice addition to the cast, and hey, Ryan smiling? What a novel idea. In my opinion, The OC is going out on top. And if it has to go, I’m glad it’s leaving me wanting more.
Crystal’s Top 5 Musical Moments on The OC
One of the things that made The OC what it was, was the soundtrack. There were shoutouts, there were live performances, but most importantly, there were cool tunes underscoring nearly every pivotal moment that occurred in The OC. And when just the right song was played at just the right moment, it was spinechilling. This is my list of the top 5 times the music matched the moment and it left me floored.
5) “Champagne Supernova” by Matt Pond PA in The Rainy Day Women
We all knew that Sandy and Kirsten would survive the Kim Delaney debacle and that Seth and Summer would eventually get back together, but did we realize how emotional both reunions would be? Add in a faithful Oasis cover and bring on the waterworks! Marissa reaches out to Ryan and Seth and Summer share a Spidey-inspired kiss, but what does me in? What makes Crystal’s heart soar? Kirsten asks “Is it over?” and Sandy responds “I promise you, it never started.” YAY!
4) “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Jem in The Ties That Bind
I moaned and complained along with everybody during the course of this show that the Ryan and Marissa relationship was a wee bit overrated and overwrought, but there are moments when they got to me, and this was one of them. I can’t explain it. It just works.
3) “California” by Phantom Planet in The Pilot
“But Crystal, this song plays in every episode, it’s the THEME song!” Yes, I know, but in the pilot, there are no opening credits, and if I’m recalling correctly this is the first non-original score music cue heard on the show. To go from empty silence to a lively pop song is as effectively jarring as it is to see Sandy and Ryan drive from the graffitied and gray streets of Chino to the lush greens and blues of Newport Beach.
2) “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley in The Ties That Bind
Josh Schwartz tore my heart out and did a little victory dance on it with this entire episode, but particularly this scene. “Hallelujah” had already been established as one of Ryan and Marissa’s ‘songs,’ and to mirror Ryan leaving the OC from the pilot, with this song playing, representing everything that he’s been through since then… oh, it kills me. As if recalling the pilot weren’t enough to do me in, we see everybody else dealing with the loss of Ryan: Marissa, being tucked away in Caleb’s mansion, trusty vodka in hand, Kirsten breaking down in the poolhouse, and Seth, simply choosing not to deal at all, and sailing into the abyss.
1) “Fix You” by Coldplay in The O.Sea
I was completely taken by surprise when this first aired and it’s continued to surprise me every time I’ve seen it since. It’s still as effective now as it was then. It’s not that I didn’t expect Caleb to die, but I didn’t expect how sad his death would actually make me. Earlier in the episode, during an argument, Kirsten had spat at him that he would die alone and to see that actually come to fruition is completely and utterly horrible. Caleb Nichol may not have been a great man, but he didn’t deserve that. If I recall correctly, this episode aired a few weeks before Coldplay’s X&Y was released, so this was actually my first time hearing this song, and it will forever be associated with this moment for me. At the end of the scene, Kirsten learns of her father’s death and somberly stalks off to another room, bottle in hand, and Chris Martin’s words take on a certain poignance, as Sandy realizes that try as he might, as super as he is, he cannot ‘fix’ his wife.
Top 11 Other Songs that will forever be associated with The OC in my memory
“Lack of Color” by Death Cab for Cutie (Oh, Seth and Anna. *sigh* And the basis of Seth’s Chrismukkah carol!)
“Into Dust” by Mazzy Star (The official theme for Ryan carrying a lifeless Marissa)
“Hello Sunshine” by Super Furry Animals (“Whatever you say, Summer”)
“Paint the Silence” by South (Ryan, Marissa and a ferris wheel. Enough to make a then-17 year old cynic swoon.)
“Wonderwall” by Ryan Adams (Seth and Summer, taking it slow)
“Dice” by Finley Quaye and William Orbit (Ryan, Marissa and confetti. Happy new year.)
“Maybe This Christmas” by Ron Sexsmith (Ryan and Marissa frolic and shoplift. Lindsay is welcomed to the family. Good times)
“Ride” by The Vines (Luke, Julie and a cheap motel!)
“The Specialist” by Interpol (Ryan and Theresa hook up, Eric Balfour cries. Hotness and hilarity, respectively, ensue)
“I’m Shakin'” by Rooney (Oh Luke, how I miss thee)
“Night Moves” by Bob Seger (The official theme of hooking up with your daughter’s ex-boyfriend)
The Top 13 OC Moments According to Crystal
Why Top 13? Because I’m too indecisive to make it a Top 10, but too reasonable to stretch it out to 15.
13) Grady Bridges, The L.A.
The OC was always more than a little meta, but it got ultra meta when Summer met her favorite celebrity, Grady Bridges, star of a juicy teen soap called The Valley. Grady, played with spot-on mock intensity by Colin Hanks, is an exaggerated (or is he?) parody of Adam Brody, with his “non-traditional” good looks, awful band side project (Seth: “I heard some really awful music and I knew it could only be self indulgent actors with instruments.”) and a tendency to improvise his lines! The episode takes a mind-boggling turn when Grady hits on Summer, only to be caught red-handed by Seth, and Grady’s co-star, April, whom Grady happens to be dating! Summer worries what a Grady/April breakup might mean for The Valley, and the fans chuckled and are now thanking their stars that the real-life Brody/Bilson romance didn’t end until the final season of The OC.
12) Ryan and Seth spot Julie and Luke kissing, The L.A.
I’m a sucker for Seth/Ryan time, especially when it involves goofy shenanigans (and it usually does). Following a hilarious conversation on when is the appropriate time to remove one’s wristwatch during sex, Seth implements “angst-free Ryan week,” which meets an abrupt end approximately 30 seconds later, when the boys spot Luke and Julie Cooper engaging in a goodbye smooch outside the Mermaid Inn. “Ride” by The Vines kicks in, as the boys duck behind the Range Rover, looking on in disbelief and horror. And the laughs ensue. (Linked above but I will absolutely link it again here.)
11) Summer’s coffee cart confession, The Dawn Patrol
Sethumer broke up a lot. And it was usually irritating, because we knew they were eventually going to get back together, and that we were going to have to listen to them whine until they got back together, and by season 3, it was a tired plot contrivance. But this scene was important to me because it was different. How often did we see Summer, the eternally idealized golden girl of Seth’s dreams, this vulnerable and human? How often did we actually get to see Summer show Seth she loved him? If you recall the episode where Seth originally made his coffee cart confession, (The Telenovela), Summer explains to Anna that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s dating Seth because she’s certain he’ll get bored with her -all boys do- and when he does, she’ll die of embarrassment because she was dumped by Seth Cohen. Watching Summer put herself out there and then be rejected is heartbreaking because we see her realize that her prediction was accurate, except now she’s not upset about the embarrassment she’ll have to face, she’s upset about facing life without the person she loves.
10) Taylor crushes on Seth, The Anger Management
Yes, Taylor Townsend got Marissa thrown out of the Kickoff Carnival and tried to sabotage Sethumer, but Taylor was never evil, she was just misunderstood. I’ve often said that Taylor is essentially what I would be like if I were to magically become a character on The OC. My ‘What I’d like to do in The OC list’ syncs up perfectly with Taylor’s (minus the Dean Hess and Henri Michel chapters): neutralize the threat known as Marissa Cooper, attempt to steal Seth from Summer, induct myself into the Core Four, thus making it the Fab Five, and finally, Ryan. One of the things that make me and Taylor so alike (besides the paralyzing emotional issues) is that she seems to be a fan of the characters as much as I am. Seth gallantly came to her rescue in the previous episode (The Swells) and now Taylor is hellbent on making Seth hers, going so far as to abduct Captain Oats to cause a rift between Seth and Summer. Seth explains to Taylor that he likes her – but as a friend – but for Taylor, that’s enough. As Seth exits the scene, Taylor can barely contain her fangirlishness, squealing “It’s happening!” Adorable.
9) Ryan and Theresa kissed. So what’s the plan? The Goodbye Girl
Another example of one of my favorite installments of Seth/Ryan time. Ryan and Theresa kissed. First Seth needs details. Was there tongue? Wait, he doesn’t really want to know that. Well, what level of kiss was it? A Madonna/Christina peck or a Britney/Madonna smooch or a full-on, Al and Tipper Gore liplock? Ryan’s not giving anything up, so Seth wonders, what’s the plan? Is Theresa staying here? If she is, where’s she gonna live? What’s her credit like? What kind of lease is she looking at: a year, month-to-month, or looking to buy? No lease? Well, then Ryan, when you commute to Chino, whose car are you going to take? Who’s paying for gas? Freeway of choice? 55 to the 5 or 91 to the 71? Ryan tells Seth to just whoa. They just whoa and later Ryan is bombarded with the exact same quiz by Kirsten and Sandy. “I am this way for a reason,” Seth explains. And the laughs ensue.
8) Seth and Anna say goodbye, The Goodbye Girl
Before I was Taylor, I was Anna. Eternally doomed to be “the friend.” After essentially being kicked around by Seth, Anna finally moves on and goes back home to Pittsburgh. Seth feels bad because he thinks it’s because of him, and he rushes to the airport to stop her. Anna insists that she’s leaving because she has to, she simply couldn’t make Newport her home. As a haunting cover of “If You Leave” amps up on the soundtrack, and Anna boards the plane, Seth finally realizes what he’s losing: his best friend. “Who am I gonna play Jenga with? You’re so wise in all your sage wisdom, what am I gonna do without that?” For once, it’s too little, too late, Cohen. She’s gone.
7) Ryan and Marissa kiss, The Heights
Back when the romance was fresh and we thought the smoldering looks couldn’t get any more smoldering. It seems silly now, but back then we were dying for Ryan and Marissa to kiss already, and when they did, it was swoon-inducing. “Paint the Silence” kicks in at just the right time, the ferris wheel spins and the carnival’s lights brighten up the night sky… it’s a genuine OC moment.
6) Seth and Summer’s first time, The Heartbreak
Or as Seth dubbed it “the awful fish sex.” Seth is fresh off his breakup with Anna and decides to once and for all, lay it all on the line with Summer. Not only do we get to meet Princess Sparkle, but we are made to witness the moment Seth has been waiting for his whole life: “It’s always been you, Summer,” he emotes, as Summer melts in front of our eyes and flings Seth onto her bed. The experience isn’t at all what Seth or Summer had envisioned it to be, (“So… that was sex.” Not exactly the greatest pillow talk of all time.) but OC fans get their first taste of Sethumer, and we loved it. Hello Sunshine…
5) Marissa revisits the model home, The Journey
Season 3 may not have been the best, but fans that stuck with it were treated with moments of poignancy such as this one. Marissa and Ryan have both moved on, Ryan with Sadie and Marissa to a flirtation with Volchok. Marissa goes to visit Volchok at a construction site where he’s working, and it looks strangely familiar. As the scene progresses, Marissa gets more and more troubled, trying to place where she’s seen this place before, and then Volchok’s boss reprimands him for smoking in the building: “The place has already burned down once!” and it hits her. It’s the model home where she and Seth hid Ryan. “Paint the Silence” kicks in as the memories come flooding back to her, and both she and the audience long for a simpler time.
4) Seth thought last year was so much better! The Blaze of Glory
Even Seth had an irrationally emotional attachment to Season 1. Seth muses, “We all tried some new things and that was fun. Yard guys, illegitimate daughters, less fighting, more live music…” Ryan counters “Maybe you remember last year as better because it was all new.” Whether or not Seth (and the fans) “sentimentalized the past all out of proportion” is irrelevant in Seth’s eyes, because he remembers life being better when the Core Four were romantically united. He suggests Ryan ask Marissa to the school bonfire. No, Seth. “It would be so last year, though!” Even Summer tries to talk sense into Seth, arguing, “We have lived through enough of their pain and suffering.” “Yeah, and it was awesome!” Were the writers trying to beat the audience to the punch? Saying “please don’t bad-mouth us, we know you’re disappointed?” Maybe so. But it was fun to think that Seth was frustrated with the way things were going in The OC too.
3) The magic of Chrismukkah, The Best Chrismukkah Ever, The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn’t, The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkkuh, The Chrismukk-huh?
Christmas is a magical time of year, and it becomes even more magical in the Cohen household, where “the best that Christianity and Judaism have to offer” are fused together to become Chrismukkah. What does Chrismukkah consist of? Well, besides 8 days of presents followed by one day of many presents, Chinese food and Sylvester Stallone in Over The Top, lots and lots of warm fuzzy-inducing moments.
In Season 1 we had Ryan discovering the magic of Chrismukkah. According to Ryan, an Atwood family Christmas usually consisted of booze and violence, and Christmas in The OC actually doesn’t look much different, except for one thing: this time he has a loving family to help him through it. The shot at the end of the episode, of the Cohen fireplace, with the family’s stockings hung with care, and the family’s Chrismukkah card sitting nearby never fails to reduce me to mush.
Season 2 brought family drama as Caleb’s “error in judgement” leads to an awkward and unexpected family reunion. Chrismukkah is nearly called off until Summer comes to the rescue, and the gang brings Chrismukkah to Lindsay’s home. Warm fuzzies here? Ryan urging Kirsten to reach out to Lindsay, saying that Lindsay needs help realizing that “she’s part of a family that’s pretty good at letting in new members.” (Awww.)
Season 3’s Chrismukkah was tainted by Johnny shenanigans (Oy humbug!), but it concluded with the gang swaying to “That’s What Friends Are For,” creating the Bar Mitzvah memory that Seth always wanted, and it was kinda sweet.
This year’s Chrismukkah took an unusual turn, as Ryan and Taylor spent the episode trying to set things right in an alternate universe, but there was still the usual Chrismukkah magic. In the alternate universe, Ryan learns that since he was not there to intervene, Marissa never survived her Season 1 overdose in Tijuana. Ryan had felt that had it not been for him, Marissa would have lived, but in actuality, it is because of him that she got to live. Cheesy? Sure. Emotionally satisfying? Oh yeah. Ryan (and the segment of the population that still cared about Marissa) finally gets closure and everyone is now ready to experience the magic of Taylor and Ryan together. Chrismukkah. Twice the resistance of your average holiday, bringing people together.
2) Ryan kisses Taylor, Taylor kisses Ryan, The Metamorphosis, The Sleeping Beauty
The idea of Ryan and Taylor as a couple at one time seemed outlandish. Silly. Who would’ve thought their romance would make the show event TV again? Taylor needs Ryan’s help in getting a divorce from her French husband. Ryan needs to pretend to be her lover. He’s not having it. Taylor is resigned to the fact that she’s going to be forced to go back to France and work things out with her husband when all of a sudden, Ryan walks in and plants one on her. And if I saw fireworks and heard bells and I was a mere viewer of this kiss, I can only imagine how Taylor felt. She is head over heels. She explains to Seth that kissing Ryan was like Dorothy landing in Oz. “Everything just popped into technicolor.” Taylor makes it her mission to make Ryan fall in love with her, and the shenanigans ensue (my personal favorites being her delivering Ryan’s morning coffee in an evening gown, pretending to be a sleep therapist to help cure him of insomnia and in her words, “renting a homosexual” to make him jealous). Taylor admits she has a tendency to fall for any guy who’s nice to her, but she knows there’s something between her and Ryan. One kiss, she pleads, and if they don’t feel anything, she swears she’ll leave him alone. He agrees, and is flabbergasted at the results. He’s hooked. And so are we!
1) Ryan defends Seth, The Pilot
Some people are choosing this moment for the “Welcome to The OC, bitch” aspect of it, but not me. To me, this was the moment where Ryan Atwood became a superhero. Kid Chino and his fists of fury, defending those who are near and dear to him. Ryan had no reason to defend Seth. They barely knew each other, and Seth had just humiliated him by announcing to all the party guests within earshot that Ryan was a car thief from Chino (Chino? Ew.) but still, Ryan came to his rescue. Was it because he couldn’t pass up a good fight? Because he didn’t know what else to do? I don’t think so. I think it was because Ryan Atwood is a stand up guy. The unstoppable team of Ryan and Seth was born in this moment, my favorite in the land of The OC.
And thus my OC blog comes to a close. In just a few short minutes, we’ll say goodbye for good. But my dear Cohens and Coopers will forever live on in my heart, and on my DVD player.
The end’s not near
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