But, The O.C. was so much more than ... titties and ... anus. Much, much more.
First, let me just say that The O.C. was like a sandwich, and I'm not just talking about the Steve Sub with my naked lubed-up self sliding between Marissa and Summer on a bed made up of White Castle Hamburgers and Taco Del Mar Jumbo Burritos. Like any good sandwich, you've got two quality slices of bread: in this case, the epic first season and the above-average fourth-and-final season. Except, with the O.C., what you've got is a Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, and Shit sandwich, with said turd dumpling hidden right smack dab in the center. You almost kinda want to forget it's there, because the tops and bottoms are so amazingly awesome, but then you can't help turning green with nausea when you think about it.
We can all just set this down as a given and begin to move on: The First Season Will Never Be Matched By Anyone Else's First Season EVER. The first season of The O.C. had it ALL. Ryan jacks a car with his brother and gets arrested. Sandy takes him in, he meets the fam. There are multiple fights, Ryan wooing Luke's girl, Seth getting Summer to notice him. You've got an overdose in Mexico (TJ!), two girls vying for Seth's affection, Luke's dad coming out of the closet, Ryan possibly being a father, Jimmy losing millions of dollars, Julie Cooper marrying Kirsten's father, Ryan going off to Chino, and Seth sailing away on his boat, possibly never to return again. I know there's like five million things I forgot in there, but if I go on now I'll be at it until next winter.
Anyway, so today I was looking at it, and holy crow did the second season suck! I mean, just looking back on it, season two was probably the worst second season in the history of television! I mean, just putting us through that whole Ryan-Lindsay drama should've been enough to cause me to renounce this show forever. They like each other, they don't, they're going out, they're taking a break, they're officially together, they're officially on a break, and ON, and ON, and ON! I mean, if they didn't throw in Marissa's lesbian fling, I would've hung myself with a sock.
And, as for season three, sure a lot of shit happened, but it was hard to give a rat's ass because by this point we the viewers were already aware of two things: new characters were completely disposable (see: Anna, Oliver, Theresa, D.J., Alex, Zach, Lindsay, Sadie, Charlotte, Johnny, Chili, all of Ryan's family, and apparently anyone of the extended Cooper/Cohen/Nicholl clan). The other thing we knew for a given: all new characters had pre-defined roles for the show and could never deviate from those roles. They were separated into three piles: Love Interest, Villain, or Chili. As soon as their purpose was fulfilled, they were either killed or shipped off to some other part of the world. Therefore, you could see the same pattern in Season 3 as there was in Season 2. In the end, things would have to return to some semblance of normalcy.
So, why did I continue to be an avid viewer of the show in those two sore-thumb years? Because, that's the thing about The O.C. They know how to hook you in early and they know how to draw you back in late. If you were to watch the first two episodes and the last two episodes of any season of the O.C., you'd think it was the greatest show of all time and you'd wonder why they'd ever cancel anything so amazing. Well, if you gaze into the 20 or so episodes in the middle, you'll SEE why they lost 20% of their viewership every year for the last three years.
Granted, the hand of Fox intervened a little too often by forcing script changes, additions, and changing the timeslot repeatedly. If they'd just left well-enough alone as they left it in the timeslot after American Idol, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But, there's two things you need to know about the creators of the O.C. They run through storylines like they're dissolving in boiling water, and they can't shit until they tinker with what ain't broke.
Never was it more apparent than in the series finale when they covered about 3 or 4 years worth of shit in a 60 minute episode. But, take for example the Seth-Anna-Summer triangle. That thing played out in less time than it does for me to rip off a hairy dump. 90210 or Dawson's Creek would've milked 5 seasons out of that mess, and don't get me started about Friends. But, that's what made The O.C. great and what made the first season simply epic. It was the Short-Attention-Span Teenage Drama, and it never disappointed. Because you knew, if you didn't like what was happening this week, keep watching because three weeks later they'll have moved on completely like the last howevermany episodes never happened. Oliver's pointing a gun to your head? You shoot Ryan's brother and put him in a coma? Marissa was rolled in a car down a cliff and died in your arms? Hogwash, that's nothing a few episodes and a tight little tush can't make you forget.
You know what I'd really like to do? I'd like to download the entire first season, the first and final episodes of season two, the first and final episodes of season three, and all of season four and I'd like to package that as The O.C. - The Complete Series Without All Of The Utter Shit In The Middle. Maybe with some extras of Kaitlin and Hailey and anyone else who's really really hot in their bikinis moving in slow motion to the music of The Walkmen or The Killers or Death Cab or something. And, like, an interactive video game: Guess Sandy's Mood By The Super Closeup Position Of His Eyebrows. Maybe a montage of everyone ever punched in the face or every drink Kirsten ever took or every sugardaddy Julie ever slept with for financial security or every time Marissa ever ate something on camera to make it look like she didn't have an eating disorder or every time Seth flopped into a piece of furniture as if the weight of the world hinged on that particular problem of that particular day of that particular moment. How about this for comedy's sake: a documentary of everyone associated with the show and their level of success away from the show (how's that blossoming movie career Mischa Barton? hey Summer, how would you like to come back to my place and do some ... modelling?).
C-man, I don't want to see any responses to this post, because we're still gonna get hammered and record our inebriated feelings on the show's demise. So, save any thoughts until the time comes.
But, I'll close with this: what did I watch The O.C. for? To be honest, for a couple reasons. First of all, I never had much of an exciting high school life. I mostly stayed in the house, had but a few fellows I'd call friends, never dated, never did much of anything. So, you could say I was living vicariously through The O.C. Which is sad because I was 22 years old when it first aired. But, more importantly than that, I never had a Teenage Highschool Drama to call my own. I was never interested in 90210 or Party of Five or any of those shows; I didn't watch My So-Called Life until it was already in re-runs, and besides that it was only on for a half a season. Sure, there was Dawson's Creek and to a lesser extent Gilmore Girls, but those shows were widely considered to be highly lame at the time.
And then The O.C. came around. In the very first scene, you're dropped in medias res of a car-jacking. You've got the heroic tough guy (who I aspire to be) and the nerdy introvert (who I most associate with). There's the land of affluence juxtaposed with common sense beliefs, the clashing of the luxury and hippie cultures. There's drama for your mama to the nines and some happening music to boot.
And, of course, the T & A. I'll never forget those T's and that A on The O.C.