Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Ben McKenzie, and Rachel Bilson in The O.C. (2003)

In Newport Beach, in sunny California, in one of the richest neighborhoods of the city, live the Cohen family, stable, solid, and consistent with themselves. But something is about to change, a boy will soon come to move into their dépendance…

On the notes of California by Phantom Planet, get your surfboard ready: we are at The O.C., in Orange County.

Trouble magnet

The O.C.: The Complete Series [DVD] [2007] [2011]
The O.C.: The Complete Series [DVD] [2007] [2011]
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Who doesn’t know Ryan Atwood yet? Certainly, Marissa Cooper has already met him, right on the driveway. That young man with melancholy eyes who seems to have already seen too much of the world, a magnet for all troubles. He is a guest of the Cohen family, thanks to Sandy‘s kindness, and Seth, the only child, has already begun to haunt him with his talkative chant.

Amid all this wealth he is definitely out of place, surrounded by pomp that is not for him, used to getting by day by day. Is he ready to leave the past behind? Will he be able to start a new life, or will the aftermath of the old one envelops him and suffocate him?

Of course, problems always manage to find him, attracted by the aura of bad luck that seems to surround him, that same “bad boy” aura that seems to intrigue Seth, fascinate Marissa, and make her best friend, Summer Roberts, suspicious. Yet, Ryan is just a boy, a boy with a heart of gold always ready to help.

They couldn’t find a better actor than Benjamin McKenzie to play his role, whose face perfectly matched the facial expression that made Ryan the tormented young man; the ability of expression that subsequently guaranteed him the interpretation of James Gordon in Gotham. Two different characters, who have almost split the actor’s career in half, demonstrating his good qualities.

The girl who had it all

Marissa Cooper: popular, beautiful, and casual. Special talent: giving in to despair by indulging unhealthy impulses. Worthy daughter of Julie Cooper, absent and superficial mother, unfaithful wife.

The inner war that Marissa carries inside, that challenge against the whole world, is a reflection of the problems she chooses to dive into each time. The drugs, the alcohol, the wrong boyfriends. A reality of debauchery, born with hatred towards his mother, and the trauma of the separation of her parents.

Her mischief downgrades her to a spoiled child, the unbearable disenchanted princess who is saved each time by Ryan, a knight in shining armor. He represents one of the few good things in her life, the chance encounter that forever intertwines their destinies. Yet, in the end, not even her young hero manages to lead her away from the deadly storm that has created around her. It will be her stormy fate, in the form of Kevin Volchok, a dangerous troublemaker, to write the word “end”.

Marissa’s curse

Mischa Barton in The O.C. (2003)
Mischa Barton in The O.C. (2003) © IMDb

The restless instability generated by Marissa Cooper seems to have had a bad influence on her interpreter, Mischa Barton. After the end of the television series, she had to deal firsthand with alcohol problems and drug and psychotropic abuse, which led to a nervous breakdown.

The difficult interpretation of the “beautiful and damned” that pushed her to immerse herself in the darker inner side of a human being; the blinding spotlight always focused on her; and the acid rulings of the tabloids regarding her private life, the accusations of being too thin or too fat; the combination of all these factors contributed a lot to the actress’s collapse.

We recall that Mischa was only 20 years old, an age that can still be influenced, in which mistakes are easily made. Having to endure such heavy gossip, to which is also added the natural pressure of the television environment, understandably broke his psyche. Newspapers have always had great power, which most of the time is misused and mercilessly tramples the lives of others. Also guilty is the public that eagerly feeds on misfortunes.

Today, Mischa Barton is emerging from the long period of darkness in which her life had fallen. Having now become part of the “child prodigies” of Hollywood, she has finally finished paying the price that the entertainment world seems to expect from young promises.

The love of ups and downs

Adam Brody in The O.C. (2003)
Adam Brody in The O.C. (2003) © IMDb

What do you remember best about The O.C.? One of the answers that will emerge from the sea of ​​memories is undoubtedly the Spiderman kiss between Seth and Summer.

Their story has marked our adolescence. A game of ups and downs, whims and rants that fully represent the first loves. They were two characters in balance, who compensated and created the right suspense. Their couple was the background buffer that balanced the instability between Ryan and Marissa. Despite their constant push and pull, they worked and remained a guarantee, a real and fun love story.

Seth’s vivacity and Summer’s impetuousness created the perfect second plot; and while appearing to be two simple characters, they too had complexities, such as Seth’s insecurities, the inner despondency he tried to mitigate with sarcasm, or Summer’s feigned sense of dissatisfaction, which served to hide the fear of a broken heart.

Adam Brody was our favorite and had a charm that did not overshadow him, which did not make him the shadow character of Ryan but transformed him into the strength of the story.

For the whole family

The O.C. joins the Old but Gold column not so much for being born in 2003, as for having proved to be a show for the whole family, able to satisfy the tastes of teenagers and parents. Because if Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Summer left the younger ones in suspense, Julie Cooper’s intrigues and the Cohens’ family problems created interest in the older ones.

The O.C. turned out to be a cult series, a teen drama with a world apart, with posters on the walls and sticker albums (yes, I had one, it was almost complete). Everyone talked about it and lived its story. Despite only having four seasons, he remained in our hearts, filled us with emotions, and made us grow.

So, are you all ready? This year we celebrate Chrismukkah together with the Cohens!

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