Most people I talk to already know that I like the O.C. , but I feel compelled to explain why.
First of all, it probably isn’t what you think it is. Over the years I have heard a number of 90210 comparisons, but that’s really misleading. Sure, it deals with rich people and their problems, but there is a deeper part to the show that makes it not only watchable, but surprisingly enjoyable.
The creator, Josh Schwartz, has said that he wanted to make a show that paid homage to one of his favorite shows, Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks focused on the outcasts in a high school setting and offered both laughs and emotional depth. The O.C. offers the same thing with an element of the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
This show isn’t perfect. There are moments when the drama reaches oppressive levels and it feels more like a fancy soap opera than a quirky character study with a moral. But fortunately, the positive far outweighs the negative.
What really makes this show for me is the strong moral center, embodied by Sandford “Sandy” Cohen (Peter Gallagher). His character grew up in the Bronx and left home at 17 to pursue his own destiny. This led him to Berkley where he studied to become a public defender. In the first episode he is assigned to be the lawyer of the main character, Ryan Atwood (Ben Mackenzie). Sandy takes Ryan into his home, temporarily at first, but circumstance causes him to become a member of the family. I was truly shocked at how often the writers of this show placed Sandy in difficult moral dilemmas, but even more shocked at how much integrity and wisdom the character showed. This strong moral center makes the debauchery of other characters tolerable since they are shown to be foolish and wrong in comparison. Having such a character earned my trust since I initially believed the show to be aimed at cheap, shallow entertainment. There are legitimate lessons to be learned, and though the show is no model for Christian living, it often emphasizes the value of selflessness, longsuffering, introspection, fidelity, and friendship.
I also want to point out that one of the O.C.’s strongest attributes is the good chemistry between the actors and the characters they play. Seth’s emo, geeky, and sarcastic character meshes well with the tougher, more reserved character of Ryan. Most of the show’s core relationships are believable and cause you to become emotionally attached. I’m not ashamed to say that the death of a core character moved me. And not because I especially liked that character, but because of the pain it caused the other characters. I suppose any good piece of fiction has that power.
I hope you will accept my liking of the O.C. And I hope you’ll give it a chance too someday.