Last year, The OC instantly became a huge part of our pop culture. The problem this year is that the writers are all too well aware of how they influenced the pop culture and believe that fact gives them license to do whatever they want to with the show and think the viewers won’t notice or care when large portions of the show suck. B-side is going to chime in with a more in-depth analysis of what is wrong with the show and what they can do to fix it. And although there is only about 15 minutes of the show worth watching each week, I’ll still take you through the whole hour.You might have heard that there was a lot of rain in Los Angeles this year. It is already the fourth wettest on record, and you can sense the change in the mood of Angelinos whenever it turns cloudy. I don’t like to say that people in Southern California overreact when it gets a little cold or it starts to rain a little bit, but that is exactly what happens. What those of us who grew up in the northeast know as “sprinkles” people from Los Angeles call “thunderstorms”. What we could consider “showers” is better known as a “downpour” and what we would actually call a thunderstorm would result in stretches of highway to close and people to stay inside for fear of getting their hair wet. (But for those of us who do venture outside, we still wear our sunglasses. It is California after all.)
So with this in mind, we see Ryan and Seth, each sequestering themselves inside their houses. Seth wants to talk, but Ryan doesn’t want to leave the pool house. Seth has bagels, but Ryan says he needs to clean. Now I finally know why Ryan hasn’t moved inside – it would spoil such witty openings such as this one. Seth eventually decides to call Ryan on his phone. Even though Seth’s parents are too cheap to buy him a car, there is still plenty of money left around for the pool house to have its own line. They discuss the rain, and Seth mentions that it’s like the opening scene from Day After Tomorrow, which is kind of funny because that is the term I have picked up to describe all the rain in Los Angeles. Problem is, the opening scene from the movie took place in Antarctica, the rain didn’t come until much later. Some writing assistant should be fired over that mistake.
Let’s not dwell on the minor issues, the large picture is that both Seth and Ryan are having girl problems, and once again, they must complain to each other about their problems before they go out and do anything about it. Sounds as if they are more interested in making sure each other is happy than their (ex)girlfriends. Then again, they are living under the same roof as the master of the conflict of interest – Sandy Cohen. For some reason, Sandy is still more interested in making sure his fugitive felon ex-girlfriend is happy than he is in making sure his wife is OK with it. Kirsten is sad, partly because of the rain, partly because of a hangover, but most likely because her husband has no clue why should she would be a little upset that he’s helping a woman so obviously in love with him. Sandy says he feels like they are strangers, an Kirsten never talks to strangers. But that’s OK. Rebecca calls Sandy, who of course offers to drop everything he is doing and leaves right away to pick her up.
It’s not just the Cohens who are fans of bagels in the OC, the Cooper-Nichols love them as well. Julie is making herself breakfast when Alex and Marissa come down, fresh from their sleep over. It must have been a great morning for Julie. Marissa has found a new friend, and that the new friend isn’t black or Mexican, so why worry? Julie exchanges a little embarrassing conversation with Alex before she leaves, leaving mother and daughter to enjoy a little heart to heart.
Things have been strained between Marissa and Julie for a while. First it was the infamous scream, then there was the whole relationship with the gardener followed by Julie’s affair with Jimmy and a little trip to Europe. But now Marissa wants to be completely honest, sort of a fresh start. She tells her mom that Alex is her girlfriend. She doesn’t just like her, she likes her likes her. She’s not a friend that is a girl, but a girlfriend. Welcome to experimentation, bitch!
The rain is still coming down, but that is not going to stop Ryan or Seth from setting things straight with their girls, even if it means braving the torrential downpour. Sandy and Kirsten have no problem letting Ryan or Seth borrow the Range Rover at anytime, except when it is raining outside, of course. And since nobody in Orange County is smart enough to own umbrellas or waterproof jackets, everybody gets wet.
Ryan is outside of Lindsay’s window while she is playing her oboe. When you are rich in Newport, you calm your nerves by playing Playstation, if you’re poor, you must live with learning classical music on woodwind. Lindsay, who looks much better with her hair down than pulled back, is starting to have second thoughts about her DNA test. What if she really wasn’t Caleb’s father? Ryan, pretended to care and said that he would even go with her to the DNA test, but you knew he was secretly saying “why didn’t you just listen to me when i told you to be careful about Caleb three episodes ago?”. To make matters worse, Lindsay and her mom are thinking about moving to Chicago because they are sick of Newport.
While you can kind of imagine why Ryan wouldn’t have any waterproof clothing, being poor and from Chino, but why doesn’t Seth have anything to protect him from the rain? Up until Ryan came into his life, didn’t he spend every spare moment sailing? I know that sailing doesn’t require you to actually submerge yourself in the water, but you do get wet. And even if he did manage to stay dry while sailing in Southern California, he did decide to move to the Pacific Northwest, you would think he would be smart enough to carry around some more rain protection than a Spiderman mask. Yes, I said a Spiderman mask. If it seems strange now, it gets only dumber later on.
Seth wants to talk to Summer. We have seen this scene a million times and honestly I want it to end. Seth sees Summer with somebody else. Seth becomes jealous/angry. Seth attempts to talk to Summer, but the words don’t come out. Seth makes a joke, but it sounds like he is trying too hard to sound funny and aloof like season 1. Cut to Summer looking sad that Seth didn’t actually say what was on his mind. It’s the same thing over and over, and this time was no different. Seth was unable to convince Summer not to go to Tuscany. Oh how absolutely tragic.
With all of the trouble going on, it makes some strange bedfellows among members of the cast. Julie and Kirsten had never liked each other, but when it comes to complaining about how much their lives suck, housewives are always willing to call for a little détente and be on their gossipy way. Kirsten is at the office, avoiding her family (odd, since none of them are actually in her house), when Julie walks in, also trying to avoid her family. When Julie says they should add some cigars and scotch to the mix, you know that Kirsten isn’t going to complain. Throughout all of the suckiness I have had to endure this season, I still get a laugh anytime Kirsten is going to get drunk.
Their whole conversation wasn’t that great, except for the part when Julie said she had done some lesbian experimentation herself. “It was just a phase”, she said, which means the writers have started thinking of ways to bail on the lesbian Marissa ship should the ratings grab relationship not work out the way they expected.
If there was another theme besides how sucky the rain is, it was 1992 Top 40. We had Blind Melon open the show, and now seth is listening to Boyz II Men, specifically “End of the Road”. If this was 1995, perhaps I would believe that a high school student would be thinking about his lost love while listening to this group, but this is 2005, and kids have moved on. Haven’t they? If somebody has been around long enough to have a greatest hits album, isn’t that not indie enough for Seth? Ryan walks in, also finding the music choice strange, but he does inspire Seth to come up with one more grand romantic gesture. Remember “Summer Breeze”, Seth’s old boat? Seth is going to buy it back, and use that to win over Summer.
So Seth is listening to Boyz II Men, thinking about Summer. I wonder what Summer is doing? Why, wouldn’t you know it, she is also listening to Boyz II Men, and she is thinking about Seth. If you haven’t caught on, this is so we all understand that what they have is true love. It is more than a physical thing, it comes from a higher, more spiritual connection, and it starts with a shared appreciation of the Boomerang Soundtrack. Zach comes in, also wondering what the hell Summer is listening to, and wants to talk to her about how exciting the trip is going to be. I can understand why Summer has legitimate concerns about the trip, since she has known Zach for less than a year, doesn’t know any of his family really, yet is still going to be thrust into the wedding party. But Zach is nice, and Seth hasn’t said anything to her, so why not just go to Italy?
To buy his boat back, Seth needed money, and we know that’s not that hard to come by. His parents are loaded, why not just get some money from them? Well, because Seth can get the money on his own, he just needs his old job back. He goes to ask Alex about working at the Bait Shop, and we now understand why you shouldn’t have a teenager run your club. Not only does she give Seth the job that he has quit from twice already, she advanced him his pay so that he can buy back the “Summer Breeze”. It’s also very convenient that he happened to see Marissa when he was at Alex’s apartment, meaning that he can spread the rumor all over town, meaning Marissa will get nervous and end the relationship within three weeks.
Seth gets his boat, but it is no longer called “Summer Breeze”, it is now entitled “Gimme Sex”. He can’t really take it out on the water, but he believes that if he can just dump it in the pool and and invite Summer over, it will be just as good as if he had been in the ocean. He gives Summer a call, and says he wants just once more chance. In a rare departure from the predictability of the show, Summer tells Seth that he can’t do it to her. He might have thought that what they used to have was good, but “it wasn’t as good as what you had with Ryan”. Slam! That’s what we like to hear – a character with some conviction. And with that, Summer leaves for the airport, and Seth is relegated back to listening to Boyz II Men and watching episodes of “Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley”. I just can’t get enough of these writers. They satire their own show with The Valley, and now satire a reality show based upon their real show. The layers of complexity are just too difficult for my simple mind to comprehend.
Yes, the plot lines are starting to take care of themselves. Sure, it was kind of convoluted, and not entirely believable or entertaining, but at least things are ending, and that includes the sage of Sandy and Rebecca. When she called Sandy, he met her at a diner, and convinced her to come back. While driving back, the road is washed out, forcing them to get a motel room for the night. Ahh, the perfect setting to test one’s marriage. Rebecca tries to make a move on Sandy, and Sandy smartly refuses, although he would have been better off just getting two rooms. As they are driving back the next day, they begin to argue, Sandy runs the car off the road, and a good Samaritan truck driver calls 911 so a tow truck, ambulance, and police are all going to be there soon.
Fearing that she might be caught, and that Sandy might be blamed, Rebecca decides that she is going to run away again. She and Sandy say their goodbyes (again), and she walks off down the road. I am not quite sure how she is planning to avoid the cops pulling her over as she walks down the road, but maybe she can hitchhike quickly. Sandy, who can stand a broken marriage, but not a broken BMW, finally lets her leave.
The results of the big DNA test are in, and Lindsay is indeed Caleb Nichol’s daughter. They tried to make us feel that her mom was a skank, but we all knew that he was probably the father. It doesn’t explain why we have yet another week without mentioning what Theresa is doing with the baby, but at least the whole adoption thing can move along. It would move along that is if Lindsay wanted it to move along. She was so gung-ho about getting adopted last week, but after seeing the true colors of Caleb, she is having second thoughts. Lindsay talked it over with her mom, and she has decided to move with her mom to Chicago. Caleb might bring her more money and a better life, but Lindsay can’t lose the only family she ever had.
God damn! Another girlfriend lost, another lonely flight to the midwest? I love the heartland just as much as anybody else, but was there not one writer who could have come up with something better to get rid of a girl than moving to Chicago? Freak auto accident? Cancer? Something, anything other than this same old routine. If Alex and Marissa break up, and Alex moves to Green Bay, I’m going to have to hit somebody.
Why do I say that? Well, Marissa loves telling everybody all of a sudden. When her mom confronts her about her experimentation, and says she understands why Marissa did it (minus the Motley Crue and Jagermeister), Marissa decides to move out. Alex is also enjoying the new, happy to be out Marissa. She even has her doing chores around the apartment, and paying rent (which she wouldn’t have a problem with if she hadn’t advanced all that money to Seth). Although clearly apprehensive about the situation, Marissa goes along. But when we see her comforting Ryan after she walks Alex to the bait shop (the only people to use an umbrella the entire episode), we start to wonder just how long all of this is going to last.
Summer is at the airport, and there is a delay. We know that Summer doesn’t really mesh well with Zach’s family, but it was funny nonetheless. She is so uncultured and simple, shouldn’t she really be with somebody who is less grown up than she is? Somebody who has parents that read People and Newsweek, and not The Economist and the New Yorker? Somebody like Seth Cohen?
While waiting out the rain delay, and looking for US Weekly, or Glamour, or Cosmo, she listens to Seth’s voice. Zach is a sports star, comes from a good family, and cares about her deeply, but he doesn’t do horse voices, and who could love a man who doesn’t show you that kind of devotion. The last thing she needs now is to be reminded of Seth, but when she sees a young boy wearing Converse, reading comic books, and playing with a toy horse, it is just too much. She tells Zach, who is completely understanding, and runs off to find her love.
Seth had only one request for that evening, and it was to watch “Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley” without interruption. His satellite was out, and while most people in this situation would have simply waited for the DVD, Seth heads up on the roof to fix his Dish Network. He needs protection from the rain, so he wears his Spiderman mask. He also needs protection from his non-athletic, non-handyman self, so he takes extra care to secure the rope around the chimney and his waist in case he falls, which of course happens within two minutes.
Hanging upside down from the roof (the rope broke his fall just enough that he would simply hang several feet off of the ground), Seth is helpless. Luckily, somebody is there to save him. It’s Summer, and when she sees her super hero in that position, she runs up and kisses him. It was quite the hot moment, and was even better when I saw it the first time in “Spiderman”.
The OC has already become a parody of itself. People might love the idea of Seth and Summer, but was getting them back together in the rain, upside down, with a Spiderman mask all that earth shattering that we had to endure months of Zach and Summer in between? Maybe you think so, I don’t. It’s not that I don’t think Seth and Summer don’t make a good couple, or would necessarily be bad for the show, but it seems like they are trying once again to write for a ratings boost and not plot coherence and believability. We have a bunch of nice kids that don’t get into trouble, and sometimes go to school. We have a bunch of adults with uninteresting problems and forced conflict. On any other network, this show might be in trouble for being cancelled, but on the network that brought you seven seasons of “That 70′s Show”, this one still has a lot of legs.