If you frequent any sort of pop culture site, you may have received a vague sense that The O.C. is everywhere this week. Ten years ago this week, the show debuted on Fox and became a cultural phenomenon and so now the Internet feels obligated to celebrate its anniversary. It was kind of a flash in the pan as far as quality goes, because although the first season was phenomenal, the show never quite met the bar it set for itself again.
Still, the show gave us many things. Seth Cohen, Christmakuh, the term “asshat,” Ryan Atwood’s arms, and the parental guidance of Sandy Cohen. Though the quality of the show faded, this things never have. On a more serious note, The O.C. taught television how to do the teen soap in a smart, self-aware way. It wasn’t reinventing the wheel–it was really just pointing out how ridiculous the wheel can be sometimes when it’s a metaphor for a teen soap opera.
This smart, judgmental voice mostly came in the form of the two male Cohens, Seth (Adam Brody) and Sandy (Peter Gallagher) respectively. Where Sandy was always preaching about the world outside the Newport bubble (and thus the frivolousness of his own show), Seth narrated the bubble with sarcastic and witty quips. In the pilot alone, here are some of his gems:
“Welcome to the dark side.”
“Wow, I’m sorry, I should really learn to knock. In case there’s a threesome going on in the bathroom.”
I sat down to rewatch the pilot today, mostly because I was feeling nostalgic after seeing the faces of the show everywhere this week. I didn’t watch the show when it aired (I was 12 when it started), but I did pick it up in my late teens, and I was totally addicted to Gossip Girl, the series that The O.C.’s creators brought to life after its cancellation. Gossip Girl is a perfect example of how much these shows borrow from The O.C. nowadays.
But I digress. I watched the pilot today and was reminded of both the show’s heart and its wit. You don’t usually find both. Sure, it had all the dressings of a trash TV, but within the characters’ relationships, especially in the Cohen family unit, The O.C. was a genuinely smart and well-written show that also wasn’t afraid to make fun of itself. In the first season.
And in case you’d like a little nostalgic taste of the show yourself, here are links to a couple of the phenomenal things I’ve seen posted online about The O.C. this week: