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First Impression: The O.C.
The show had what was considered a rather unusual time frame for its premiere. FOX debuted the show in August, showing the first seven episodes before a hiatus for the MLB playoffs and World Series. (Read more about this decision from a FOX executive here.) The goal was to attract a sizeable fan base in the late summer so the show could then hit the ground running after its hiatus. And it worked.
Not only did FOX air the first seven episodes through mid-September, but so did sister network FX, which allowed me to get sucked in and drop my jaw at the cliffhanger of episode 1.07, “The Escape,” like everyone else did. I was hooked.
Once “The O.C.” returned to the airwaves in late October, I faithfully watched live week after week, sometimes joined by mom. I was rooting for Ryan and Marissa from the start and put up with Luke, then Oliver, then Theresa getting in the way. I appreciated the Cohens being an interfaith family and seeing Jewishness represented onscreen (a topic I plan to explore further in December).
As creator Josh Schwartz himself would tell you, the show burned through a lot of plot during its first season, which is partially why it only lasted for four. Let’s not forget “Beverly Hills, 90210” lasted for 10. Notably, though, I didn’t find myself comparing the series, at least not in a negative way, like I initially did with “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Dawson’s Creek.” I knew this was FOX’s attempt at a new “Beverly Hills, 90210” and it didn’t really bother me.
It is interesting, however, that “The O.C.” is often credited with taking the teen drama genre a step further with its development of its adult characters, even though the parents were integral to “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Dawson’s Creek” from the get-go. And “The O.C.” is also widely acclaimed for its association with music (think: Death Cab for Cutie and Rooney), even though in the prior decade, “Beverly Hills, 90210” lay the groundwork for such integration with performances from everyone from The Flaming Lips to Christina Aguilera.
Something we definitely can give “The O.C.” credit for is launching Schwartz’s career, which would go on to impact the teen drama genre even more with a little show called “Gossip Girl.”
THE O.C. (August 5, 2003 - February 22, 2007)
Favorite Seasons: 1-3
Favorite Episodes: “The Escape” (1.07), “The Ties That Bind” (1.27), “The Mallpisode” (2.15), “The Dearly Beloved” (2.24), “The End of Innocence” (3.03), “The Graduates” (3.25), “The Chrismukk-huh?” (4.07), “The End’s Not Near, It’s Here” (4.16)
Favorite Character: Ryan Atwood
Favorite Couple: Marissa and Ryan