Monday marks the 10-year anniversary of The O.C. That’s right, you really are that old. Ten years ago today, your eyes were glued to the television screen as you watched high school debauchery unfold. Once the immortal words, “Welcome to The O.C., bitch,” were spoken, you were hooked.
The O.C. was everything. It was overdramatic, addictive, and oddly relatable.
1. Seth Cohen was the greatest male character to ever grace our television sets.
Seth Cohen is literally the perfect man. Who could resist this anxiety-prone Chrismukkah celebrating mensch? While the ladies were supposed to love Ryan, Cohen was the real deal. He was hysterical, self-deprecating, had impeccable taste in music, and owned a sailboat. I would expect nothing less from the product of a WASPy alchy and a pair of eyebrows mating.
2. The Bait Shop was the coolest club a teen show has ever seen.
I love how every teen show has a nightclub with ridiculously awesome bands where everyone goes to casually hang out. Do these kids not have homework? I’m sorry, but my hometown didn’t have a tiny teen club where multiplatinum artists just happened to perform regularly, as far as I could tell. The O.C. made indie music cool, with the help of the illustrious Seth Cohen, of course. Sunnydale had the Bronze, and The O.C. had The Bait Shop, because apparently small Orange County towns all have huge artists coming through constantly.
3. The music was incredible.
Maybe you were just a little bit upset at the time that your favorite indie bands were losing whatever cred they had to Fox (or was it just me?), but hopefully you can appreciate their sellout souls now. After all, now that you’re postgrad, you understand the value of a dollar, and your soul is a small price to pay. Death Cab For Cutie, The Thrills, The Subways, The Killers, Rooney, and Modest Mouse all came through the hallowed doors of The Bait Shop. Sadly, Arcade Fire turned down an offer to play at The Bait Shop. I guess they could see into the future, where their Grammy awaited.
4. Marissa Cooper was the original party girl.
Girlfriend had issues and a half. There was the Tijuana incident, which was caused by a multitude of family problems that are soap opera insane. Her dad was an incredibly sketchy prisoner, her mother was a gold-digging ho-bag, and her sister aged a hundred years overnight, turning into kind of a slut. I mean, there’s no overcoming your mom banging your high school boyfriend, I would presume. She even shot a man, which is apparently difficult to explain on college applications.
5. The fashion was fabulous.
Poor Coop could never catch a break. She did, however, have a fabulous closet (I’m sure the shoplifting helped). She and her bestie Summer rocked some of the hottest looks, which is impressive because the show aired at a time when Juicy sweatsuits were considered the pinnacle of fashion. Ahh, the early 2000s.
6. Olivia Wilde made her lesbian debut.
Did you know Olivia Wilde was almost Marissa Cooper? Apparently she was deemed too big of a badass to play the role of poor little rich girl, so they chose her to play Marissa’s lesbian lover. After all, Olivia Wilde is a stunning princess who’s engaged to the hysterical Jason Sudeikis. It’s hard to imagine her OD’ing in TJ.
7. The bad boy wasn’t all that bad.
Ryan Atwood was supposed to be a serious badass, but there was something about that blonde hair and babyface that made it a little bit unfeasible. Ryan may have been from the wrong side of the tracks, but at the end of the day he had his act together far more than that hot mess Marissa.
8. Sandy Cohen’s eyebrows.
9. The characters were surprisingly multi-faceted.
There’s no denying that The O.C. was an addictive tweenybopper dramedy, but like Degrassi, it went there. You thought Summer would be the mega-bitch of the century, but the reality was she had a heart of gold. It looked like Ryan would be that a-hole everybody loves to hate, but he came through in the end. While The O.C. took a few wrong turns in later seasons, it still brings back fond memories. There were some oddball characters—Volchock was so unnecessary, and why was Chris Brown a thing? Oliver Trask was the creepiest, and Marissa going rogue at that public school was uncalled for. Taylor Townsend was a real buzzkill of a situation, and I really wish they stopped trying to make her happen. Despite introducing some real weirdos, the main characters were complex and cool, and you found yourself really rooting for them.
10. The O.C. was smarter than the SoCal faux reality shows it paved the way for.
You don’t have to be too embarrassed about your undying love for this decade-old prime-time soap. Josh Schwartz created characters that were deeply flawed, but entirely lovable. While it was the guiltiest pleasure of all time, it was addictive and incredible, much like the drugs Marissa loved so dearly. So, raise a shot of vodka, Coop-style, to The O.C., and wish it a happy birthday. Don’t feel too old when you realize that you have undying love for a show that premiered a decade ago today, and don’t think too hard about where in life you were at the time. Celebrate by donning a yarmuclaus (they sold out at the time), listening to “California” on repeat, and taking comfort in the fact even if you’re facing a quarter-life crisis, you have your act way more together than Marissa Cooper ever did (RIP).