For the month of June, we asked all of our writers to include a video in their piece.
During finals week of my sophomore year of college, I binged watched the first three seasons of The OC instead of studying. My collegiate comrades and I pushed chairs together in the basement of one of the dorm buildings and used cables to connect someone’s laptop to the ancient TV down there. Night after night, we gathered to belt Phantom Planet, mock the terrible layered hair styles and laugh at all of Seth Cohen’s best lines.
I reveled in my first watch of The OC because I wasn’t allowed to watch it in middle and high school. Shows about teenagers having sex were strictly off-limits. (However, watching Jack Bauer torture terrorists was totally fine.) It was 2003, so of course I didn’t have a laptop on which to secretly search online postings of the episode. Instead, I had to endure the mumblings at school the next day, every conversation seeming to be about Ryan and Marissa, and what they could or could not believe went down in Newport Beach. My only respite from the FOMO was that I was able to watch Season One of One Tree Hill in secret because I had a babysitting gig on Tuesday nights (Sorry, Mom). I dropped references to the show the next day at school like a pro. Sometimes, the parents came back before the episode ended. It was heart-breaking.
Part of the fun in re-watching The OC (which I am currently doing now, because it just came to Hulu) is returning to the innocence of high school, no matter how rowdy your high school experience was. The OC was actually pretty tame, and watching it brings me back to when life was about family dinners and wondering whether or not you could sneak out successfully. The OC is especially wholesome when compared to Gossip Girl, which picked up immediately after The OC ended in 2007. Gossip Girl glorifies drinking and drug use while The OC makes sure it’s a huge deal whenever Marissa gets drunk and everyone reminds her that it is indicative of her self-destructive tendencies. Of course, Marissa Cooper is way more iconic than Serena Vanderwoodsen, and her skin-and-bones figure and stick-straight blonde hair are the perfect combination for reminding you why you were never popular in high school. Not being allowed to watch The OC didn’t add to the popularity, either.
The other beautiful thing about The OC is that it mocks itself. In Season Two, Julie Cooper pitches an idea about a magazine called “Newport Living” about the lives of the gorgeous and dysfunctional, claiming it will be something that interests everyone and be a “cultural phenomenon.” Also, there’s the fact that they all watch and talk about the teen drama The Valley, a show about the lives of extravagant teenagers. The fact that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously makes it ahead of its time.
A little less than six years ago, my then boyfriend dropped his phone in a pool. We lived walking distance from each other, so while his phone sat in rice, he would just show up at the door to see if I was around. “It’s just like The OC!” I proclaimed excitedly to my friends. Most of the characters in The OC seem to own cell phones, but they hardly ever use them. They don’t even text! There’s some innocence left.
Caroline Higgins (’11) lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she spends the vast majority of her time teaching English Language Arts. You may also find her at barre exercise classes or playing (and losing) at bar trivia. She continues to be inspired by the energy and diversity of New York City and the beauty of that certain slant of light.