too soon, cohens and co. too soon.
you guys, i'm sad. i know. usually i'm just level fuschia on the color-coded chart from 'dozing' to 'apocalyptic rage', and i think fuschia is probably one notch below, like, persimmon or something. whatever. opening monologue and i'm already rambling. such as it is- i'm sad. SAD DAMMIT. why, you ask? (or don't, because based on the traffic meter i have so craftily sewn into the html for this page, nobody is reading this drivel. you're all spades healthier for it.) anyway, the answer is this, my friends:
i am weeping inwardly (and soon to be outwardly) on this, the day of the OC series finale. oh, laugh at me if you want, but you know you watched it back in its heyday, if even only in passing. you know the origin of and could repeat with perfect inflection "welcome to the OC, bitch!" and you probably wish for your own Chrismukkuh. hell, you undoubtedly thought mischa barton as marissa 'coop!' cooper was hellaciously pretty as the girl next door and/or hellaciously awful as an actress portraying the girl next door. oh, and you wanted to marry sandy the singular unit of his own upright citizens' brigade. or maybe that was just me.
in any event, you know, even if you never watched seriously, that the OC defined a new era in the nighttime drama; it seamlessly blended adult storylines with teenage pathos, and introduced a seemingly unending stream of emoindiepoprocktronica music into the public's ears every wednesday, then thursday, then thursday earlier, then thursday later, then possibly thursday but might be wednesday but who the eff knows because fox is screwing around with the time slots more than julie cooper screwed every male in newport, nights. yeah i know. i make run-ons. deal.
okay. back to the point- the show was phenomenal when it broke out in its promising storyline of ryan, a bad boy from chino (where they don't even have a pf chang's, ew!) tossed headlong into the glitz, glamour and sun-kissed orange glimmer of monied newport. there was the precious pretty princess of a girl next door marissa and her conniving milfy mom julie, there was eternal indiemo motormouth seth as ryan's foster brother who happened to love summer, the at-first trashy party girl revealed intelligent and driven commander in chief of tanning and the tao of environmentalism. there was caleb, newport's patriarch and mad-libs obsessed father to ryan's foster mother kirsten, the alcoholic ice queen who used to live in a patchouli-infested mail truck at berkley, where she met and then married sandy, the schmear-loving jewish new yorker who served as a great foil for the newpsies (crazy materliastic gossip-mongering marrieds of newport) who eventually became ryan's lawyer and foster father. let's not forget marissa's father jimmy, eventually run out of town by debt, marissa's boyfriend luke (he of the bitch, welcome to OC, the, tagline) who met with many a fisticuff from ryan.
this was the core cast- this was the gold. this was the nearly-all-related, if not via blood then by friendship (and housing situations) that made the OC. when the plotlines focused on familial bonds, on love and loss and the humor that comes from being brothers on a boat, the dialogue sparkled and the stories resonated. the show would later be run into the ground via tertiary characters nobody gave a shit's shit about (just visit televisionwithoutpity.com and say the word 'johnny' and wait for the fireworks of crap to storm the critical barricades), and don't even get the fandom started on crazy oliver, yardguy dj, freaking useless alcoholic squeamy-voiced carter with his stupid stupid ugly beard and zombie!dead!ew-ish rebecca as sandy's long lost love who faked blowing herself up and then tried to destroy the kandy marriage. i'm not even going to mention alex, marissa's catalyst for faux-lesbianism, because, well, the entire world could see 'STUNT FOR SWEEPS' written in curious pink curlicues all over that arc. oh crap, i mentioned it. ah well. alex was still awesome, so okay.
anyway, back to my point- again- the OC was a phenom back when it began, and even through the currents of sludge that the writing pushed it through in the second and third seasons, it has remained sharp with its dialogue and has taught us that even in superficial southern california, you "make your own family." when the show goes off the air tonight, i will raise a glass of merlot (no, kirsten, you may not partake) and toast it with tears and a smile. but before it leaves, i leave you with ten things i will miss most greatly about this wonderful piece of television history. and so, without further ado,
ten things luke ward would totally punch and then yell 'say goodbye to the OC, bitch!' at:
oh, ryan atwood. your father is in jail, your mother is taking up with lamers and your brother is totally forcing you to steal a car. little did you know it was the greatest thing that would ever happen to you- stealing the car landed you in juvie, which plopped you into sandy cohen's case file, and in turn found you being kept in his poolhouse while he was working on your case. you wore wife beaters, you were a man of few words, you carried skinny girls around a lot like a jesus type figure who had much shorter hair and was way more ripped, and you tended to like hilarious things. read: journey and musicals. you were snoopy in a play for crying out loud. also, you were afraid of heights. that's hilarious for a guy who wants to be an architect.
oh, setheleh ezekiel cohen. you nerdy but cute jew-fro sporting, deathcab touting, comic drawing, imax-watching, slow driving, meta-spouting boy, you. your talk of pancakes and superheroes, your co-authored atomic county comic skewering of orange countyturning marissa into cosmo girl whose powers come from her magic flask and of turning your mother into the ice queen and your father into the litigator, your bagging of alex before she decided marissa was more fun, your somehow dragging in of finding nemo into sex, and nature mockumentary featuring blow-up wales in the pool- they will be missed. as will your raging sense of self-doubt and your perfect smile. what? he said 'chiclets' in the gringos and i was all, 'right on. but they're perfectly shaped chiclets, my man.'
3. the music.
say what you will, but a show that can find useful and not out of place ways to use mia, radiohead, death cab, lady sovereign and modest mouse is kind of awesome. the soundtrack always, always fit the mood of the show (try a montage set to cold play's 'fix you', which was the tv premiere of said song- it could be schmaltzy but it was brilliantly done in my not so ever modeset opinion), and never detracted from the story- instead of furthered it and turned bits of dialogue and action into something much more meaningful. south's melancholy but crystal and calm 'nine lives' showcased ryan's torment in juggling marissa and a pregnant former girlfriend theresa in season one, modest mouse's 'the world at large' really did leave the world at large for marissa after her father leaves and she finds family and solace in the cohen's kitchen for a breakfast of bagels, and in perhaps the finest marriage of music to television in the history of ever, imogen heap's acapella 'hide and seek' narrated caleb's funeral and, forty minutes later, revved back up again the moment marissa plugged ryan's brother with two bullets to the torso. the haunting look he gave her as he fell over in a heap of blood was magnified under eerie and beautiful vocals, and the song became a staple of every OC fan's ipod. go youtube the final scene for the season two finale and tell me you don't agree it was amazing. in conclusion, oc + music = win.
4. the meta and callbacks.
this could turn into a seriously ass-long dissertation on meta if i don't control myself, but the show never did so i don't see why i should. the meta was sometimes funny ('was it little girl in the sixth sense barf?', 'if we could've turned this into a body swap we might've gotten two more years out of this comedy') and sometimes useless ('we tried some new things this year...not everybody liked them') and every time The Valley got used to explain a plot (or lack thereof), the collective audience felt like throwing a vase, kirsten style, at the screen. but alas, we didn't, because flat screens are expensive to replace. in any event, the show had a very self-referrential sense of humor ('oh, it would be *so* cliché to punch me'), a very nod-and-a-wink sensibility, and if oliver doesn't get mentioned in tonight's season finale as he has been in every other, well then schwartz and co, you will have some splaining to dooooo.
5. the horses.
seriously- season one had a major horse kick. we had china, marissa's poor, forgotten until the second half of season three sister's pony. it was owned by julie cooper and it had alopecia. the poor poor equine. if there were to be a spinoff of this show, i'd vote for the horsey...it sounds almost like the OC. come on. be phonetic with me. anyway, after poor the poor hairless minihorse went to the wayside of lost storylines, we could still take four-legged comfort in captain oats, seth's breyer model horse. would i be a total nerd if i said i used to have that exact same horse years ago? probably. and in a moment that was meant to show us exactly how meant for each other seth and summer were, we were introduced to summer's confidante of a pink and purple pretty pony with a my little pony comb and everything. come on. the horsey. YOU LOVE IT. admit it. they could play horseshoes and take in games of polo and dressage. it's almost like the people of the oc dammit. you know i'm right.
6. julie cooper.
holy greatest character ever, batman! there's really nothing i can say that hasn't been said about julie cooper, so here's a partial list of her accomplishments: running jimmy out of town, destroying her daughter's faith in maternal units by sleeping with her ex boyfriend, trying to frame ryan for near-murder, sending ryan out to commit actual murder, planning to murder caleb before he actually kicked the bucket and pretty much leaving him to die because she was inside planning his death and not outside to save him (oooh, le twist!), having a tremendously awesome ongoing commentary with invisible gus, enjoying hot pockets and wine coolers in a trailer, rocking out to seger and def leppard, having the prettiest hair ever, smacking people, giving people evil death glares, swanning about making the most vicious but awesome remarks ever, being an actual caring mother deep down, marrying and/or getting engaged to nearly anything with a dingle and a bank account, being in porn, trying to run newport group, being kirsten's only friend, and last but not least, being the only person ryan could relate to once marissa was dead. like i said- greatest thing since sliced bread. very catty, crafty, bitchy and well-written bread.
7. marissa's really bad acting.
this could be taken one of two ways- we could say mischa barton as marissa had some re-heeeally bad acting from the pilot on (go youtube or dvd the season two premiere furniture-throwing scene for a hysterically glorious over the top screaming session) and that you could make a drinking game out of the words she bastardized (drain your cup when she pronounced pregnant like 'prugnant' or take a shot when she says 'but what about *me*?'). she was truly so awful that it was hysterical and you could either bitch and moan about her lack of talent, or just take it in stride and giggle and get blazingly drunk. come on, marissa would be proud of you for drinking. on the flip side of the bad acting, you could read it that marissa herself was awful- and honestly? after a point it got so bad that i loved it. at first i loved that we had a character who was shown to be perfect that we later found out was anything but. nay, she was an alcoholic anorexic lying manipulative clingy five-fingered-discounting drug-abusing school-ditching furniture and laptop-throwing twig dressed in really ugly hats and unflattering shoes. ...then she just turned into a druggie in a slut spiral and died. it. was. awesome.
8. cohens + 1 kitchen scenes
this was the core of the show. 'but i'm mid-schmear!' remains one of the greatest lines ever uttered on the show, as does seth pronouncing tiajuana to his white mom. kirsten's at-first wary but then very loving surrogate mother to ryan paired with gung-ho human rights!ish sandy (who later became private firm sandy, then unemployed sandy, then head of newport group sandy (wtf?), then finally public defender sandy again) provided the parenting, dammit, parenting! that this show was so splendid at doing when it did it right. seth's endless morning banter paired with ryan's monosyllabic responses but all-encompassing stares ('how does he do that?' seth is left to wonder) was pure awesome tied with a bow of super. plus that kitchen was awesome. i've always wanted an island like the one kirsten had and didn't use save for pad thai ordering for pretty much two and a half seasons. the whole 'you make your own family' theme was what the kitchen scenes were. breakfast, dinner, midday snacking...it was all there in glorious technicolor. favorite moment? 'the homecoming', thanksgiving s1- wherein the entire family (save ryan and marissa, being in chino) yells at each other with one liner after one liner one-upping the one before it. fantastic writing, fantastic lighting, fantastic chemistry, and a not-so-fantastic turkey burning in the oven. pure gold.
9. seth-ryan time.
if the cohens + 1 kitchen scenes are the core of this show, then the seth-ryan time is the nucleus of the cells that make the core. or something. i don't know, i passed ap bio but it was 7 years ago, so anyway. seth and ryan being so completely different at the show's start but automatically forging a bond as brothers was what took the show beyond awesome and catapulted it into superawesome. for four years they bantered, mused and pondered in sarcastic and monotone ways, and for this, they were amazing. a sampling:
ryan: sometimes i think you talk just to make sounds.
seth: well sometimes i do.
seth: you know what i mean?
ryan: hardly ever.
seth: so what's the gp, ra?
ryan: i have no idea what you just said.
seth: game plan, ryan atwood.
ryan: you're just using initials now?
seth: yeah, it saves time.
ryan: well, not if you have to translate.
ryan: game plan?
seth: good point.
seth, to his boat: ohhh, i've missed you. it's been too long.
ryan: you're talking to a boat, seth.
seth: yeah, i talk to a plastic horse too but that never worries anyone.
ryan: it worries me.
that is but a sampling, but it's enough to show that their dialogue was awesome, and they totally brought the hilarity. there will be a void in the tv world without them.
10. the bagels.
well duh. i raise a schmeared bagel to you, show. breakfast won't be the same without you. nor will lunch and dinner, but, you know, bagels for dinner is kind of frowned upon by everyone whose name isn't sandy cohen. and in case you think you can offer a substitute, be warned:
kirsten: pumpkin muffin?
sandy: yes, darling?
and i'm out. honorable mention to other things that i and i'm sure others will miss include but are not limited to pancakes the bunny, luke and his gay dad, rosa (i guess the day off kirsten gave her in season one's thanksgiving ep is still going), and The Only Restaurant in Orange County. rest in peace, show. it's been an up and down and thoroughly bumpy and sometimes confuddling ride, but it was awesome none the less. hey, does anybody wonder what ever happened to the bait shop? let's pretend it burned down. ciao!