Actually, not “recommends” so much as “begs and pleads with you to watch.”
Yes—bear with me, readers, whoever you are. Maybe you’re my friends, or my relatives, or a random stranger who stumbled across my facebook profile. Maybe you’re someone who checked out SSTS after seeing an excerpt from it in the Globe. Maybe you found me through blogger, or by googling something.
But whoever you are, I am going to try to convince you to start watching The O.C., which is struggling in the ratings this season.
What’s that you say? You stopped watching The O.C. a long time ago when it started to suck? You got sick of Marissa’s whiney drama? You hated annoying new characters like Johnny? You got bored with the whole Sandy-taking-over-the-Newport-Group thing? You didn’t like the focus shifting away from Ryan? You got sick of Seth being self-centered and constantly screwing things up with Summer? And you miss Season 1, when it was more of a dramedy?
Well, you’re in luck, my friend. Everything that drove you away from the show? Gone. Now, granted, I am a latecomer to The O.C., only having begun to watch it last year under the influence of my roommates (one of whom had the DVDs for the first two seasons, which helped me catch up), but the last six episodes have taken it from, “Oh, yeah, it’s on tonight, right?” to the highlight of my TV-viewing week.
Here’s what’s going right with the show this season:
1. Marissa’s dead.
Now, besides the obvious benefits of this development (i.e. no more Marissa being whiney and self-destructive and drinking too much and flirting with other guys while dating Ryan), her death has lead to some fantastic episodes. We’ve gotten to see everyone who was close to Marissa grieving in different ways. The first three episodes had Ryan dealing (badly) with Marissa’s death, first by cage fighting and shutting himself out from the Cohens, then by conspiring with Julie to find and kill Volchok (Marissa’s ex who caused her death by running her and Ryan off the road). Ultimately, his decision not to kill Volchok once he finds him
1 a.) brings him closer to his family, which is a reason to watch in itself. One thing that was sorely missing last season was anything substantial involving Ryan’s relationship with Sandy and Kirsten. This season, we’re seeing them talking more—he runs on the beach while Sandy’s surfing, and Kirsten and Sandy both offered him advice about Taylor. And since Ryan has deferred college for a year, he’ll be in Newport all season.
1 b.) As I mentioned in a previous entry, Melinda Clarke rocked the first three episodes. One of The O.C.’s greatest strengths is its refusal, despite being a prime-time soap, to make characters too one-dimensional, and when you look over the list of things that Julie’s done in the past (sleeping with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, trying to get Ryan arrested, sending Ryan to kill Volchok), it’s amazing that you can still sympathize with her.
1. c.) Summer’s reaction to Marissa’s death isn’t what I would have expected, but it makes sense. She’s the only one of the kids to go to college (although she was just suspended from Brown for freeing bunnies from the science lab), and she takes the change in scenery as a chance to convince herself that she’s moved on. She does this by becoming an activist for environmental and animal rights—a complete 180 from her days as the ditzy, clothes-obsessed California girl who was Marissa’s best friend. Her ultimate acceptance of Marissa’s death is a small but poignant moment—in a voicemail she leaves Seth, she breaks down and says simply, “I miss my friend.”
2. It’s staying close to the main cast.
They’ve introduced a few new characters (Summer’s activist friend Che, Luke’s twin brothers who have become friends with Kaitlin), but they haven’t taken over the show the way characters like Lindsay and Johnny have in the past.
3. Sandy’s a PD again
Seriously, how long ago did we stop caring about the Newport Group?
4. Taylor Townsend
Obviously, I hope this show isn’t cancelled, or I wouldn’t be writing this entry, but if it is, I hope something fantastic comes Autumn Reeser’s way, because she is amazing. She somehow makes Taylor over-the-top and completely relatable at the same time. Even better: she’s funny. She’s lightening up a show that had become too dramatic after being a great dramedy in its first season. And her flirtation with Ryan sounds like a terrible idea on paper, but as it’s played out on the show, it’s become an awesome case of “opposites attract.” Last week’s episode was hysterical—Ryan, after kissing Taylor, starts having ‘80s-music-video fantasies about her that leave him unable to concentrate. High school relationship awkwardness ensues—ironically enough in the first season the kids are out of high school—and they end up having a makeout session in a closet. Plus, she gets Ryan to stop brooding and smile (and Ben McKenzie has a gorgeous smile). Ryan’s relationship with Marissa was full of drama, but Taylor’s loquaciousness and quirkiness play well off Ryan’s quiet, serious nature and bring out a lighter side of him we haven’t seen much of.
Honestly, I didn’t really like her last season. I didn’t quite get why they’d brought her back in with a different actress—back in the first season, she had a pony who got alopecia, and the next season she was shipped off to boarding school with one throwaway line. But this season they’ve developed her character more, and she’s actually proved very entertaining. Marissa was a self-absorbed drama queen who never seemed to think she did anything wrong, but Kaitlin is more like Julie—an unapologetic bitch with a heart. She ended last season wanting to “rule Harbor,” but the most recent episode has her bored and smoking pot behind the bleachers as the bitchy popular girl hands out invitations to her party. Kaitlin responds by throwing her own rager to spite the bitch. In another recent episode, she and Julie are both flirting with the same guy. I read some article the other day where the reviewer called Kaitlin “Jailbaitlin,” which pretty much sums her up.
6. Seth and Summer
Hallelujah. So far this season, the writers have been able to keep them interesting without breaking them up. Seth has stopped being so self-absorbed and lying to Summer all the time. Instead, he’s very sweetly offering to give Summer her space while she adjusts to her new life (“If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I do”) and putting off RISD until Summer’s suspension is over so that they can both go to Providence together. They worked through their rough patch at the beginning, where Seth would leave Summer rambling voicemails that she seldom answered, and they’re now as cute together as ever.
The O.C. this season is in an awful time slot—up against Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. While I have nothing against Grey’s Anatomy, I’m pissed that it’s taking viewers away from The O.C. when the show has finally become just as entertaining as it was in its first season, if not more so.
But you know what? Grey’s is a rerun on Thursday, so your job, my dear readers, is to:
a.) watch the show (which looks awesome, by the way—it’s an It’s A Wonderful Life-type thing that shows what would have happened if Ryan never came to Newport) and
b.) sign this petition.
See you Thursday at 9, on Fox.