Derek Phillips fills in for Johnny Loftus who is busy hanging with Sebadoh in Detroit and forgot to set his VCR, so unfortunately he couldn’t stay up all night watching it and writing his weekly wrap-up. Let’s chip in and buy the dude a TiVo.
The O.C. from the eyes of a baby
By Derek Phillips
I’m new to “The O.C.” I’ve only seen it twice before last night so forgive me if I don’t get all the nuance and complexities of the show.
First off, I’ve been told this show is the new “Beverly Hills 90210.” I watched “90210” in college and am well versed in the lifestyles of the rich & young in southern California. I followed through with an unhealthy addiction to “Melrose Place” and, therefore, also understand the woes and trials of the slightly older & rich of southern California. “The O.C.” blissfully combines the best and worst of both shows into a tanned and tucked hybrid worthy of the Spelling name.
Last night, our hero Seth Cohen loses his shit trying to impress Summer’s dad and comes across like Tom Hanks on crank at lunch. Dad is less than impressed with the boy’s geeky knowledge of comic books and Summer begins to question their relationship. Dads and daughters have a special relationship and the fact that Summer second guesses Cohen on dad’s disapproval is believable, but Cohen’s handling of the situation is mature beyond his years—hell, it’s mature beyond MY years and I can’t help but wonder if a girl writes his dialog. But it is during these passages that the best lines surface. Remember kids, celery is gay.
Where “The O.C.” diverges from the “90210” formula is with the parents. On the latter show, the parents were mere window dressing; placed on the set to reinforce that the characters were teenagers and occasionally impart wisdom or the moral of the story. “The O.C”‘s parents are almost universally more fucked up than the kids and bare at least as much midriff. Marissa busts her dad Jimmy and new gal Hailey dry humping on the couch; Julie’s sister Cindy shows up from LA just in time to louse up the wedding shower (and to drop knowledge that Julie was into Def Leppard in her youth—how old are they supposed to be?); Jimmy again gets busted making out with Hailey on the Peter Gallagher’s front porch…it goes on and on.
I don’t live in southern California and have only been there twice but how does anyone there ever know who the parents are? It’s fucking freaky how young some of these adults look. No wonder that meathead boned Marissa’s mom a few weeks ago.
I am a Dylan McKay fan. The “90210” anti-hero was second only to Johnny Depp’s character on “21 Jump Street” in angst and brooding and was perfectly played by Luke Perry. “The O.C”‘s anti-hero is Ryan, who tries his little heart out, but where Dylan was based on James Dean, Ryan is based on Sean Penn. The problem being that James Dean was an icon, and therefore easily impersonated, and Sean Penn is an artist. Trying to mimic art ends up looking like that boring shit on the walls of hotels. Sorry, dude.
“The O.C,” like all teenagers, takes itself VERY seriously. It deals in serious issues, including domestic abuse. Theresa, who I am assuming was Ryan’s honey back in Chino, winds up with a black eye courtesy of her boyfriend, Eddie. Knowing that Ryan will go apeshit and kill Eddie if he finds out about the abuse, Peter Gallagher wisely decides to keep it from the boy lest he “fly off the handle, break his probation, and land back in juvie.” Who is this kid and why is everyone so afraid of him? Did he kill someone? Is he a gangbanger? Not even Peter Gallagher could stop him from storming out of Julie’s shower to beat Eddie’s ass, and I am sure Gallagher works out!
Luckily, Ryan wises up and realizes that the person he needs to talk to is Theresa. He finds her in a hotel and tells her she can break the cycle of violence. She says that’s easy for him to say since the richies adopted him in Orange County and she has to go back to shitty Chino. No problem, Ryan says, “You can live with the Cohens too.”
Theresa shows up at the Cohens’ with Ryan and they welcome her with open arms. (That house is becoming a coed Boystown. If they invite anymore ruffians from Chino to live there they’ll have to rezone.) But the deal totally fucks up Ryan’s groove when he loses his bachelor pad in the pool house to her. It was just like when Greg lost that killer opium den in the Brady’s house. Girls ruin everything.
Forced to bunk with the new Tom Hanks, Ryan lumbers upstairs to find his Bosom Buddy moping on the bed, cradling a toy horse. Seriously, the resemblance to Tom Hanks and that other dude from that 80s comedy was unnerving. Poor Tom Hanks was sad as all get out about Summer and doesn’t know what to do (the previews for next week show our boy mashing with a hotty in Vegas—nice!) and Ryan meets up with Marissa in the backyard to reassure her that just because Theresa is sleeping just feet away, his heart belongs to her.
In the end, we learn a valuable lesson in that we should all think about our actions or something. I’m not sure. There weren’t any parents to tell us. My question is, where is Wendy Jo Sperber?