As someone who celebrated the show’s 20th anniversary last month by watching the first six episodes, I can say I am very excited that you are covering The O.C. I’m also coming off a high today as Ben McKenzie responded to my Tweet, so it’s a joyous day to be an O.C. fan.

I love the point you make about the show having a cultural footprint that shows today seem to lack. I was 16 when the I first discovered the show and from that time, the show forever shaped my music tastes and sensibilities, in a way that few shows of today seem to do. (I am also a huge fan of the original outro credits song, and was gutted when they changed it towards the end of S2 when the show changed composers).

The show had an interesting start in Australia where I’m from, in that it started on one TV network in 2003 and got buried late at night, where I’m pretty sure it got poor ratings. It then got picked up by another network who were probably aware how hot it was in the US and gave it a second chance. At the time, I remember being so put off by the way the second network advertised it, that I didn’t watch and get onboard until The Heartbreak/Valentines Day episode. I then had to try and source the older episodes, which in 2004 was a feat and the show has to now be up there as one of the most formative (best?) TV shows for me.

I’m also looking forward to Alan Sepinwall’s book that comes out this year, it looks like it’s going to be great!

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Channel 10 went all-in on The OC in mid-2004 as I remember it and it paid off with huge dividends.

I'd already seen it all thanks to Limewire and Kazaa at the time (as I'm sure you'll remember well, it was often six months to a year, if ever that we'd get some US shows here).

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Yeah, they really did and I found their advertising at the time so obnoxious as to be off putting. (They would constantly refer to it as a “bitching new show” and it was an instant turn off.)

Yeah, Limewire and Kazaa both came in handy eventually as we were so far behind. The first time I really made use of them was for Season 1 of Lost in 2004/2005, and graduated to The OC around about the second half of Season 2. Definitely remember watching a downloaded version of The Dearly Beloved and how agonisingly slow it was to download. Totally worth the wait though!

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Oh wow yeah that takes me back to those ads. I remember that well.

Channel 10's attempts to corner the youth market at the time were somewhat aggressive but at least they had a stable of shows that were reasonably good at the time. I more or less gave up watching actual network TV by 2006-07, with the exception of Neighbours (which I'm a tragic for) and the news once it was possible to download things quickly.

Oh wow yeah those slow download speeds at the time were an absolute killer. Lost, The OC, Battlestar Galactica and The 4400 were all shows I was downloading at the time but it would take 12 plus hours on the shitty connection we had. And god help you if you got the wrong episode or one with a foreign language audio track.

I remember that day for The Dearly Beloved really well too. That was just near the end of my first semester of uni and it was the same week as both my 18th birthday and the release of Star Wars Episode III. What a time it was.

Plus, the instant meme that was Mmmm watcha say?

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Lol, yeah, I was big in to Neighbours at that time too (although I long since tapped out, but watched the ‘series’ finale last year, and will probably watch the new start this week) along with The Simpsons sandwich-bread of 6pm and 7pm.

I mostly remember Episode III for the George Lucas cameo and the Seth Cohen ad where he introduced one of the first trailers.

What an absolute time for Australian TV.

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Neighbours during era was going through a bit of an Indian summer of sorts. They were getting surprisingly good ratings (occasionally crossing the 1 million viewers barrier) and was getting some renewed critical interest with the whole Karl and Susan get divorced/Paul Robinson returns but that dropped off pretty hard after the 20th anniversary in 2005 to the point where they did that soft reboot in mid-2007.

I'm really curious to see how it is is going to be now that it's fuelled up with Amazon money.

Oh yeah I remember that cameo and that trailer (where Seth was playing with those action figures). Good memories.

If nothing else, The OC was clearly important enough to 10 that it was, if I'm not mistaken, the first show they started "fast-tracking" from the US, initially showing it in the same week and then eventually the same day.

Also, unlike almost anything else they've tried in the past 15 years, they actually showed the entire series to its end.

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Am I a 51 year old man going to rewatch the OC? I'm thinking about it now. Thanks for the recap!

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It really is a brilliant pilot - I rewatch it regularly and it’s impossible to not start watching the second episode. So excited about these recaps!

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I watched at least half of season s1 for the first time a month ago (but then my Max subscription ran out, and I’m not going to have it on rotation for awhile). I am SO excited these reviews will have a “most 2003 moment” plug, hopefully for every episode? Not a spoiler, but there was an episode where I was like, “Wow, a mention of how the house guest has filled up the TiVo. Blast of 2003! Love it!”

Totally agree that Adam Brody did this thing so well, and so immediately, that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s now an archetype. I didn’t watch when I was the right age, but he makes me feel 18 again. I’m moon eyes about Seth, even though I’m way too old now. So even though I know what you mean with the whole “Seth is for girls and Ryan is for women” thing… I sort of feel like it’s both, because watching this show makes feel like both the woman I am and the girl I was.

The one thing that stood out to me as I watched this episode, and the next few, is how unlikeable Summer is. Seth’s obsession with her in the first episodes is the character’s one glaring weak spot. How could a kid this cool be so into such an awful girl? It makes him less cool, honestly. And the obsession itself (even if she had been great) plays a little creepy and entitled Nice Guy in ways that are counter to the rest of his otherwise insanely charming characterization.

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Summer is one that they didn't seem to figure out what they were doing with for four or five episodes. Once we hit the TJ episode, that's where they dramatically change the way they're writing her.

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YES. Seth's character was wildly unique at the time and is now such a starter template for, say, so many of the CW's teen characters over the years.

I'd honestly compare it to how Joss Whedon's dialogue was this super disruptive new way for characters to talk - and now its how every Marvel character and most blockbuster leads talk.

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Hey thanks Latoya & EM (Episodic Medium) for giving me a reason to actually delve into this (for me) missed cultural touchstone.

I was never into 90210 when that aired but watched it because it was something my brothers were into. Same with 21 Jump Street which I didn’t hate, I just didn’t remember it with much reverence. The shows I found myself really embracing were shows like My So Called Life (which is so 90’s, but in the best way), Freaks & Geeks, Everwood and the lesser talked about Jack & Bobby. Oh and Popular! That show was so entertaining but I actually discovered that show after having gotten into Nip/Tuck.

I think I actively avoided The OC thinking it was the new 90210, and I really was disinterested in yet another drama about rich white kids.

The reason I actually felt any interest in possibly watching this series even before this was because I really enjoyed Ben McKenzie in the show Gotham and wanted to see the show that made him a big deal.

I read this review before I watched the episode today and gotta say it hyped me up a bit for it. But now that I’ve seen the premiere episode, I’m honestly not that impressed with the show so far. Yet I do believe that shows need the space and time to grow on you, something we normally don’t allow nowadays as we are in “Peak TV” as it were. There’s too much TV and too many different ways to access shows that the shared experience has become rare. The word of mouth has to be strong for a new show to really get any buzz. And I want to go on this journey and thankfully Latoya’s review gave me more insight than I felt was there in the episode itself.

I’m particularly looking forward to reading Latoya’s next review as I actually went ahead and did the homework of watching that one already.

Here’s a little preview on what I thought of that one: I have actually found the moment upon when I initially watched this show that completely turned me off to it. But I’ll get into that when we get there.

My thing with shows like this, was finding relatable characters or reasons to like them. We are supposed to like Peter Gallagher character because although he’s a rich lawyer guy he has a good heart and sees a kid like Ryan who’s smart and just in a bad situation and thinks the answer is bringing him into a different situation perhaps a better one. I didn’t necessarily get his reasons for doing this, questions like why now and why Ryan kept coming up. The answers are they I think. The reason “why” he wants to help Ryan is because Ryan reminds him of himself, (I don’t know how, but maybe the show will tell us at some point) and “now” because... idk he forgot he has a wife and kid at home that this act of kindness would most definitely disrupt his home life..?

I genuinely enjoyed the scene Ben McKenzie (Ryan) had with Mischa Barton (Marissa) mostly for his performance. I see what I liked about him in Gotham here. He makes choices that I find entertaining. The way he smokes and tilts his head while talking to Marissa just displays a lot of character.

Adam Brody I’ve liked in things like Jennifer’s Body and stuff but here so far I’m getting he’s playing younger than he is. Which I’m guessing he’s actually probably in his late teens early twenties but he’s playing it like a precocious 10 year old and I guess I get why his character has a crush on Rachel Bilsons character because she actually looks like she only just turned 13. Oh and Bilsons character is completely unlikeable. I like Bilson in other things I’ve seen her in, I can’t think of anything right now but the character she plays is truly awful. Yet I will agree her delivery of “eww Chino” is on point and hilarious. I was like “That was you’re takeaway from that reveal?!”

I also thought the emotional conflict between Brody and McKenzie was forced and then the physical fight between Brody-McKenzie and Marissa’s boyfriend and his friends was extremely forced. I think they really should’ve established more of what Brody’s life was like before McKenzie came into it, like would he get bullied or picked on before a lot, or are we to assume that this is the first time a fight has happened to him.

Anyway I’ll just leave off with that ending which shows McKenzie saving Marissa from sleeping on the floor outside her house. I know that we’re supposed to believe the conflict is that Mackenzie’s Ryan wants to hide Marissa’s alcoholism from her parents but really the right thing to do in that situation is to ring the doorbell and bring her into her own house.

Well, I’m looking forward to these reviews and to finding out why this show was such a cultural phenomenon.

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I just want to say, I am so excited for you and the rest of the readers who are watching this for the first time. One thing I'll just say to keep in mind for this first season is character development. And in keeping that in mind, something worth noting is: While I know she's synonymous with the show, Rachel Bilson is actually a guest star until the post-summer episodes. (So starting at episode eight.) Her behavior in this episode is always wild to me, but then I have to remind myself that she's essentially on the same level as Holly (who's pretty tertiary) as a character in this specific episode. (Because when they made this episode, they probably didn't even know if she would be back as a bigger character or as a guest star at all.) Obviously, something I would have context for but not the case for people who have never seen the show before. I'll try to provide even more context for these types of things in my reviews.

I will say, when it comes to Seth's behavior at the party and then Ryan carrying Marissa to the poolhouse boil down to one fact: they're teenagers. For the former, he was a drunk teenager on his Nice Guy, "I'm entitled to Summer" bullshit (which is not a flattering color but still), and for the latter, as the mysterious new kid in town (and one who is actually, technically, a delinquent), if Ryan took Marissa to the front door and brought her to her parents, no doubt he's thinking they'll think he did something to her. (And honestly, I could see the reaction from Julie.) I'll say about The O.C., while things are heightened and there are a lot of "adult" situations these kids are on, the show is well-aware that these are, in fact, kids. And pretty or not, they tend to react like kids. (Without spoiling, despite his maturity, even Ryan's reactions to things are as a result of what he has, unfortunately, seen as a kid.)

Thanks again for reading!

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I noticed that Bilson got guest star billing when I watched recently. And I found it so strange that they would base half of Seth’s initial characterization on his obsession with a guest star. Other than being lonely and wanting to keep Ryan, his crush is basically his entire storyline. Why do that when there was no confirmation that the storyline could go anywhere, based on availability? The times I can think of where that happened are when it’s presented immediately as a Bad Thing that Will End Soon , like the teacher-student romances in the pilots of Dawson’s Creek and Riverdale.

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From memory it was a contractual thing with Bilson. I can't recall the exact details but they had to wait a certain number of episodes before they could add her to the credits.

For the purposes of plotting she was a regular and is in every episode of the first season, even though she's a guest for half of that run.

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My wife and I have been making our way through this for the first time and have nothing but the finale left to watch! Very excited to read your recaps

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Confession not only have I never seen the O.C. before but I'd never even heard of it until Episodic Medium announced plans to covering it. Regardless, looking forward to learning more about the series through these reviews - unless I get so intrigued that I decided to watch-along.

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After a false start last fall, I am diving into this show. I agree on it being a time capsule! I am considerably older than you, and was a mother of a baby and toddler when this show premiered. Which means, of course, there was no chance I could watch this show. TV really went by the wayside during that time. Speaking of: the Bush years!!! It feels so much like that. Are we .... nostalgic for that time now? Completely bizarre how nostalgia works. It is quite twisted. I liked the pilot. I was completely drawn into the story. I admit, though, that the music is what I really liked. I missed it all in real time so it's nice to hear the context to these songs, many of which I caught up on a decade later. I will also cite Greg Kot's (rock critic and hosts the podcast Sound Opinions) book "Ripped". There is a whole chapter on The OC and how it was a way for kids to hear new music that the radio wouldn't play. I am looking forward to all those needle drops!

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May 5·edited May 5Author

Welcome to the party, Lynn! I hope you enjoy the show and the reviews along with it. Would love to know your thoughts as you go along.

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Very excited for these reviews from LaToya! I always love hearing her thoughts on Teen Soaps (I am a proud patron of her podcast The Ampire Diaries about Vampire Diaries).

As to The OC I remember in 2003 (I was in 8th grade so 2 years behind LaToya) it was absolutely the talk at lunch every Thursday (it aired Wdnesday nights after the summer eps). But there was also a divide in if you watched The OC or One Tree Hill and I did OTH. So I never watched The OC until it ended up on HBOMax but I've never been able to make it thru season 3 (I've seen season 1&2 and part of 3 twice). I'm excited to try and get to the end by following along!

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I have never seen this series, and decided to watch along with Latoya...my initial reaction after the pilot is “Fun! When do Ryan and Seth kiss?” Those two have chemistry!

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First all, I hope there are no more uses of the r-word in this show. Otherwise, I'll be dropping off fairly quickly. (I think that word is *never* ok to use in any circumstances)

I'll be working my way through the show for the first time alongside these reviews! Looking forward to more!

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If it helps, I don't think it ever comes up again.

Rewatching it again, it's barely audible at least in this episode. As someone who was constantly called that particular word a lot because of a physical disability, it's a word I hate too, though as someone who was also in high school at the time of this episode's airing, it's also fairly accurate to what teenagers were actually saying then too sadly.

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This show has been most of my personality for 20 years. LET’S GO

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Why did you say "Welcome to the OC bitch" at some point in this?

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