California, here we come; California, there it went

By Amy Shaunette

We all remember the beginning of “The OC”. The hot new teen drama centered on the classic story of the boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks who falls in love with the beautiful, wholesome, girl-next-door. Four seasons later we are left with a shred of what once was. With the final episode of the series airing February 22, my heart sinks when I think of empty Thursday nights.

When “The OC” first aired in 2003, it drew nearly ten million viewers, establishing itself as the number one drama among advertiser-favored young adults. But the second season drew only seven million viewers, the third season drew less than six million and now season four has reached a mere four million viewers. Fox only ordered a half season of sixteen episodes, and now time’s up. I hate to say it, but “The OC’s” clock has stopped ticking, and not a moment too soon.

The show started out strong. We were captivated by the brotherly bond between brooding bad boy Ryan and meek, misunderstood Seth. The chemistry between Ryan and Marissa was torture. Who can forget their first kiss at the top of the Ferris wheel? Season one was action-packed: Marissa’s ex-boyfriend Luke slept with her mom, Luke caught his dad making out with a guy, Seth won Summer’s heart by professing his love on a coffee cart in front of the water polo team, and Marissa overdosed in Tijuana. And of course, the first season gave us the famous line, “Welcome to the OC, bitch. This is how it’s done in Orange County.” Yes, in its early days, “The OC” was legitimately a good show. Its contemporary teen dramas did not reach the same caliber of writing, and few shows ever paid so much attention to music or wardrobe. It was high quality television. But oh how that changed.

It’s not that seasons two and three were bad. They weren’t—the plot thickened as the characters wedged their way deeper and deeper in to our hearts. It got harder and harder for me to make it through the week. Would Thursday ever come, I’d wonder, longingly searching the Internet for cute screen caps from recent episodes. But as obsessed as I and the other seven million girls just like me were, no one could deny that “The OC” began to be one long, bad joke. The creators had set up a great premise for a show, but they couldn’t come up with fresh content.
And so, in season two, Grandpa Caleb found his long-lost lovechild, whom Ryan fell for; Seth dated a bad girl who dumped him for Marissa; and yes, Marissa had a brief stint as a lesbian. That is where things got a bit incestuous—Seth and Ryan’s ex-girlfriends dating each other? These people cannot become romantically involved with someone unless they already have at least five connections to that person. The season ends with Marissa shooting Ryan’s brother to save Ryan’s life. But let us not forget the best part of season two: “The Mallpisode”, an episode in which Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Summer get locked inside the mall for a night and go camping in a department store. It is a televisionary gem.

In season three, Marissa was expelled from her exclusive prep school and forced to attend (Gasp! No!) public school. She befriended some surfer guys but when one of them got drunk, fell off a cliff and died, Marissa spiraled out of control. Enter Volchok, Marissa’s creepy, creepy, creepy disgusting drug-dealer boyfriend. Marissa drinks heavily, sleeps in Volchok’s trailer on school nights, does coke, and eventually ditches Volchok. Meanwhile, Seth discovers marijuana and shows up to his college interview high. But when Marissa leaves Volchok for good, tragedy ensues. In a heated car chase, Volchok runs Ryan’s car off the road. Ryan emerges from the wreck carrying a limp Marissa.

Yes, there were great moments in the show’s three-year run. The show explored important teen issues, like alcoholism, drug abuse, shoplifting, and unwanted pregnancy. There was lying, cheating and blackmail. There was deceit and deception; but most of all there was romance. Seth and Summer were a staple of the show, but no one really cared; we knew we could count on them. If they broke up, they’d get back together, and they could always cook up some cute conflict to keep things interesting. What carried the show was Marissa. When she died, “The OC’s” reign went with her.

Season four is hardly worth discussing. Without Marissa’s troubled teenage phases, “The OC” is nothing. Ryan apparently got over Marissa’s death and is dating Taylor, a season three addition who’s literally the most annoying, obnoxious character currently on TV. The entire season has revolved around Taylor intense desire to hear Ryan say those three little words. She can’t understand that he won’t say those words because no, he does not love her. Ryan’s biological dad is with Marissa’s mom, which is sick. In previous seasons I would curse the clock as precious minutes ticked by. “Only fifteen minutes left? No!” I’d lament. Now, time couldn’t go any slower. I watch the episodes in agony, thinking, “Is it over yet?”
And after Thursday’s series finale, it is over. RIP, “OC.” Or should I say, welcome to the graveyard, bitch.