Ask most people my age about their memories of 2003 and they’ll recall a year spent learning the words to Ignition by R. Kelly and deciding which text messages to delete to free up space on their Nokia 3310. But for me, that year mostly involved crying over Seth + Summer, wondering whether Caleb was supposed to be as funny as I found him and wanting to raid Marissa Cooper’s wardrobe. AND THAT WAS JUST SEASON 1. Here are just a few of the occasions when The OC was the best thing ever…
When Luke stopped being a jerk and loved Rooney
Wasn’t this Luke at his absolute finest? When he found out his dad was gay, got beaten up, realised he’d been a right old idiot and then hung out with the Core Four? Yes, it WAS. Bonus points if you can remember this Rooney episode where he embarrassed the rest of the group through shouting so loudly and then played a cringey song on the guitar backstage (“No he didn’t, yes he d-d-d-d-did, WHOOSH!”)
When Marissa smiled at Ryan during the season 1 fashion show
This song was playing (“HEEEYY GIRRRL!”) and you KNEW stuff was gonna get interesting. Go away, early-season-1-Luke. Ryan and Marissa, JUST KISS ON THE FERRIS WHEEL ALREADY *cries*
When the music became your listen-to list
…and theocmusic.co.uk became your go-to website. Thank you, The OC, for showing me Pinback, Modest Mouse and the Dandy Warhols and for leading me to sit by the TV with a notepad every week so I could write down the exact point the songs I liked came on and later Google them.
When people shouted stuff at Seth every time he stood on something to tell Summer he loved her
“That’s not Zach Stevens!” “Seth Cohen’s a tool.” “You’re dating this emo geek?”
When it was raining and no-one wanted to leave the house
Seth tried to tempt Ryan in with bagels. Ryan wanted Seth to come to the poolhouse. In the end they spoke on the phone and it was adorable. PLUS as soon as you re-watch the rainy day episode you know the upside-down-Spidey-kiss is coming soon. HOORAY, Sethummer is BACK ON.
When Atomic County became a real-life thing
Remember Johnny, the guy who broke his leg and loved Marissa a lot (and then died)? His Atomic County character turned out to be called Johnny Tears, which is something I still marvel at all these years later.
When Seth was ‘ill’
As Ryan said, he had a bad case of the Summer flu. Maybe he needed some… ANNA-BIOTICS! Aw. And who said Ryan wasn’t funny?
When the Mallpisode was a thing
Yes, there was an episode called ‘The Mallpisode’ BECAUSE THEY GOT TRAPPED IN A MALL OVERNIGHT BY A PRE-FAME AMBER HEARD AND IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. The Core Four played hockey, The OC’s music supervisor played E-Pro by Beck and it was amazing.
When they didn’t try and pair Ryan + Summer or Seth + Marissa together, ever
Say what you want but this is RARE for teen TV shows. At no point in the entire four seasons did one couple get swapped over – The OC went the other way, making a point of how ever-so-slightly awkward it could be when it was just Ryan and Summer, or vice versa.
When Seth got the comic book club to spy on Summer and Zach
Any time Anna said “Confidence, Cohen”
Sometimes I still think “Confidence, Cohen” in my head when I’m about to do something very brave and scary. Anna was a wise, well-dressed BABE and I missed her when she left.
When George Lucas was a guest star and Zach finally had enough
George didn’t go to prom, because he was too busy drawing ewoks. Did you know that? I’m not sure if that was true or if he was making it up. But Seth didn’t really care in the end, because he needed to go to school ASAP and declare his eternal love for Summer (again. Sorry Zach).
When you realised how different life would’ve been for the characters without Ryan
The season 4 episode that sticks out for me is the one where a still-grieving Ryan gets knocked out and ends up in an alternate universe where he never came to live with the Cohens. Seth’s sad and lonely, and Kirsten and Sandy are divorced. Marissa is still dead – except this time it’s because she successfully overdosed in TJ and Ryan wasn’t there to find her. THAT’S RIGHT, HE GAVE HER TWO MORE YEARS. I’m not crying. You’re crying. Shut up. EVEN MORE BONUS POINTS if you spotted the poster of Johnny Harper, award-winning surfer, in the background.
When Seth’s bedroom was what you truly wanted in life
The posters, mostly. Why couldn’t we be Seth Cohen? Why couldn’t we date Seth Cohen? There were no boys at school with Misfits, Ben Folds Five AND Nirvana posters, or if there were they certainly didn’t also own a plastic horse named Captain Oats.
When Julie Cooper said anything, ever
I LOVE JULIE COOPER. I love her comments to Gus the trailer park man, I love how much she adores Marissa even though it doesn’t always come across and I love that as much as she wants high-speed internet access, it’s not worth Kaitlin becoming suspicious.
When the show referred to itself
The Valley, the time Seth wondered whether it was Oliver at the door, when Lucy Hale (ARIA, IS THAT U?) mentioned a boring, old love triangle during the S3 Anna episode, when Seth noted that Zach ACTUALLY came back (“People never leave and come back…”). And that Bait Shop comment. I am happy-crying just thinking about it.
I’m still only scratching the surface here but I figure I should stop. I SALUTE YOU JOSH SCHWARTZ, this show will never stop being anything short of a masterpiece.