Five Ways ‘The O.C.’ Ruined My Life

As you may or may not know, the television show, The O.C. premiered ten years ago this week. August 5, 2003 to be exact. Now, as a just-under-a-year transplant to the state of California, The O.C. has been on my mind a lot over the past several months. When I first watched it I hadn’t spent much time in Southern California so it was like a completely foreign land to me. Sure, I watched Veronica Mars, 90210, Clueless but The O.C. was a little too real and I really longed for Marissa’s beachy waves so it was a deeper love.

When it first premiered I was about to start my sophomore year of college and one shot of Ryan in a promo reminded me of a guy I had a crush on/sort of thing with freshman year and because I’m very petty I didn’t watch it. And he didn’t even REALLY look like Ryan Atwood so whatever.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2003, back at school, in the film lab (I can picture the moment this conversation happened) that my two friends from Southern California convinced me to start watching it. And then I was hooked. We’d get together and watch it in a group. When we studied abroad in Dublin in the fall of 2004 they just started airing the first season so we watched the first season again a year later. (They had these amazing ads that had an Irish person saying, “Welcome to the O.C., b*tch” that were hilarious)

So here we go, right back where we started from, five ways The O.C. ruined my life (besides the fact that Josh Schwartz was 27 when the show started):

1. Made Me Want a Bonfire on the Beach (And All Those Other SoCal Things)

Let me tell you, in Schenectady, NY, as a teenager we didn’t have a ton of places to hang out. Sure, there was the amusement park, The Great Escape, or a 24-hour Walmart or your friend’s house whose parents are never around – normal teen stuff.  So when I saw The O.C. and these kids hanging out at the beach all the time and having BONFIRES I was like, sign me up for that! (Obviously, being from Upstate NY I’ve had campfires so I am a pro at s’mores but that’s not the same as a beach bonfire.)

Let’s also remember I got into this show from my friends who are from near there and so, whenever we would watch it together I would ask, incredulously, “IS THIS REAL?!?!” Turns out the mansions and beach bonfires are very real and I was very jealous. (Though like Arrested Development, they never called it “the O.C.”)

Sort of because of this bonfire thing we took a drive down to Huntington Beach a couple weekends ago with the intention of a bonfire, but of course due to a million things, ended up making s’mores on a grill in an apartment complex instead.

2. Convinced Me Chrismukkah is the Greatest Holiday In Existence

Both my parents were raised Catholic. I was baptized…and have attended church with extended family off and on but other than one week at Vacation Bible School because my grandmother was teaching a class there, that’s the extent of my religious upbringing.

Oh, and I went with my friend Emily in 5th grade to her Unitarian church which was pretty fun.

But anyway, I remember in 4th grade talking on the playground with another kid and they were asking me “do you belong to the JCC or the YMCA?” because they were confused I didn’t go to church every Sunday. And it was such a definitive thing for this kid. Like this was the simplest way to identify a person.

So anyway, Chrismukkah seemed magical to me because A. Seth Cohen created it and B. it’s just kind of an Everybody Wins sort of holiday. And as someone who views Christmas less as a religious experience and more as a family time it’s just really nice to watch Chrismukkah unfold.

And if you don’t tear up when you see this you are dead inside:

3. So Much Music is Directly Tied to The O.C. In My Brain

Obviously Phantom Planet is top on this list. But freshman year I was listening to a lot of Phantom Planet and Rooney so then when I got to sophomore year and The O.C. I was like, “YES!” See, the thing is, with music, I’m never on the cutting edge. Like I have people whose music I always seek out and I hear stuff on the radio obviously but I mostly rely on my husband to find new music for me to listen to.

Whatever, anyway – I’ve heard enough versions of “Hallelujah” to fill a lifetime but it always brings me back to the model home on The O.C. THAT is the moment for that song for me. And since I already loved Rooney, when they go to the Rooney concert…brilliant. Even more brilliant? When Luke goes crazy at the concert and Seth whispers to himself, “Luke has a gay dad, Luke has a gay dad.”

I think the only time I’ve ever listened to Death Cab for Cutie though is ON The O.C., for whatever that means.

4. I Forever Think of Olivia Wilde As “Marissa’s Girlfriend From The O.C.

Really. This is a real thing. Every single time I look at Olivia Wilde I think about her dating Marissa Cooper. And Seth Cohen. I know she’s a big movie star and I know she’s done tons of stuff but she is always Alex to me. Basically every character she’s ever played is just Alex playing a different character to me. Sorry, girl. It’s like how Lisa Edelstein from House was on Ally McBeal as a transgendered person and I always think of her as “didn’t she used to be a man?”

See also: Caleb Nichol masquerading as “Charles Widmore” on Lost with a (clearly fake) British accent!

But it works the other way too. Like when Sandy is being wooed by the corporate law firm and MONA from Friends tries to pretend she’s someone named “Rachel.” Pfft.

5. Thanks to Summer Roberts I Have A Term To Describe My Most Frequent Emotional State

Let me tell you characters I relate to: they’re mostly feisty brunettes. By the time The O.C. came into my life Dawson’s Creek had just ended and I had a feisty brunette shortage. But when Joey Potter left my life, Summer Roberts quickly took her place.

Summer is sarcastic and brutal and hilarious right from the start and I loved her for that immediately.

But their trip to Tijuana was when she really won me over. Sure, Marissa OD’ing was not fun (but Ryan carrying her out of that alley kind of was) but the Seth/Summer relationship was…perfect in this episode. I love any scene where two people are trying to decide who is sleeping where in a hotel room and they begrudgingly sleep in the same bed (see also: Dawson’s Creek and…everything).

At breakfast (before all the OD’ing) Summer gets a little mean towards Seth and apologizes citing her “rage blackouts.” And thus, Erin has an excuse for every time she maybe, possibly, loses her temper.

Seriously, I talk about my rage blackouts weekly.

Driving down the 101, California here I come…

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