GIF by Bobby Finger
When I watched my first episode of The O.C. in 2007, my friend Joe had already seen them all and been affected in a profound way—as anyone else who’s watched the show will likely confirm. I was, of course, hooked after watching just the pilot. The show possesses a certain casual, understated earnestness and humor that similar shows simply do not. Its predecessors (90210, Dawson’s Creek) took themselves too seriously, and surprisingly, even its successors (like Josh Schwartz’s other creation, Gossip Girl) didn’t capitalize on the self-referential formula that The O.C. did so well. What other soap opera contains a parody of itself within the show’s canon? There’s something about it that just feels right, even a decade later. I don’t know what it says about me, but I’ll be honest with you—the only show I’ve rewatched more times (by a considerable margin, mind you) is Seinfeld.
Naturally, once you get to certain point with a show, you have to find innovative ways to keep it interesting. Because Joe and I began watching O.C. together while in college, the next step was obvious: there should be way more drinking. A simple Google search yielded some results, and our first rendition of the drinking game was based on the list that this Tripod site had created. We quickly discovered, however, that it was lacking in specifics.
Though Joe transferred schools after our freshman year, almost every time we get together, we watch The O.C. and often do it while drinking. Over the years, our version necessarily started to incorporate broader “concepts” than simply taking a drink when Summer says “ew” or Kirsten takes a swig of white wine; instead, we also include characters’ idiosyncrasies and moral principles. From Sandy Cohen’s consistent working class consciousness to practically everyone in Newport wanting to go back to “the way things were,” The O.C. is much more than just a time capsule of a distinct time period in American pop culture. (Although, certainly no-one since Zach has ever said “I’ll send you those jpeg images you wanted” ever since.)
The original version that Joe and I have scrawled on over the years is just a bit illegible, but fortunately we’ve got a cleaner “jpeg image” for y’all to use.
Now, some of you may complain that our list is skewed toward the first two seasons, which is true. But rightfully. I’m sorry, but is there really anything that we need to remember about the third and fourth aside from Seth and Summer’s beautiful wedding? Taylor Townsend and Ryan have their moments, but the show could simply never go back to the “way it was” after Marissa’s untimely death at the end of season three, and let’s just forget about that whole thing with Julie dating literally everyone in Newport and its surrounding area.
By the show’s end, though, you forgive its trespasses. The characters’ basic principles from the first season might’ve become tainted over the years—that is, if they actually managed to survive through the fourth season—but at least we have the ability to go back to when Marissa and Ryan share their first cigarette and Seth still thinks the closest he’ll ever get to Summer is his boat. Unlike them, we can relive things as they were. And what’s better is, we can relive them drunkenly.
Please just try not to end up passed out in an alleyway in Tijuana, okay?