I am a diehard fan of “The O.C.” And while you may not be, I bet you’ve tuned in at least once in the past year to see what all the fuss is about (even my Wall Street-bound brother knows who Summer and Marissa are). So go on — indulge yourself in the eight reasons why this show is my guilty pleasure (and maybe yours too!).

Ellen McGarrity

1) Seth Cohen

This kid is about as dorky as they come — curly hair, super skinny, loves comic books — he’s a walking, talking bundle of witty phrases. He even has a plastic horse named Captain Oats. Logically, I should swoon over handsome, brooding Ryan, but it’s Seth that I secretly wish was my boy toy (too bad castmate Rachel Bilson has already snagged this actor in real life). Summer’s picked up on this too — she’s the hottest girl on the show, and she can’t even move on from old flame Seth to appreciate new and perfect boyfriend Zach. But does anyone ever wonder why no one else has caught “Seth fever” at the O.C. high school now that uber-popular Summer has dated him?

 

2) An unrealistic understanding of what normal mothers look and act like

Okay, I expect the young starlets in these types of shows to have amazing Hollywood bodies and wear a size 0, but the moms? Kirsten Cohen and Julie Cooper have brought new meaning to the acronym “MILF” (Mom I’d Like to F*#k, from the movie “American Pie”). Both women have children in their late teens, yet they themselves look like they could pass for 28. Julie really takes the cake – during the course of the show, she’s divorced her first husband (played by early ’90s heartthrob Tate Donovan), had an affair with her daughter’s ex-boyfriend (Abercrombie poster child Chris Carmack), married Kirsten’s father (a seventy-something man who only cares about money) and recently re-hooked up with Donovan.

 

3) Eww!

Summer’s catchphrase of the first season is not only fun to say, but is also very handy. Try using it around campus in response to these everyday gripes (and don’t forget to scowl!):

“I fell in mud and ruined the bottom of my sorority-monogrammed sweat pants.”

“Eww!”

“Exams this year went until December 23.”

“Eww!”

“There’s a Texas Longhorn fan standing right next to you.”

“Eww!”

It’s just so much cooler than Paris Hilton’s “That’s hot.”

 

4) Milking the fans for all they’re worth

From the beginning, this show has made us wait. During the summer of ’03, Fox teased us with a handful of episodes, then pulled the show off the air for a couple months. It was on and off the air about four more times before the season ended prematurely in March. As if that wasn’t enough, fans had to wait until November of this year to see the first episode of season two. Annoying — but you know this is one of the reasons why fans love this show. It’s never a guarantee that it will be on, so you have to watch when you can. The minds behind “The O.C.” have also cashed in on fan’s devotion by making the first season DVD available (around $70 on the show’s website — I know because I asked Santa for it this Christmas), plus selling CDs of music from the show and charging a monthly fee for access to The O.C. Insider online newsletter.

 

5) Chrismakkah (aka Christmas + Hanukkah)

What other show could combine a Christian and Jewish holiday and still manage not to offend anyone? Seth — whose father is Jewish and mother is Christian — introduced this amazingly inventive concept last December. Menorahs and Christmas trees coexist in the Cohen living room and house guests wear “Yamiclaus” (red yamakas with a white stuffed ball on the top) — how adorable.

 

6) Marissa’s deviant behavior

This girl may look like an angel, but there’s definitely a little devil inside that head of hers. Last year, when she and the gang took a Spring Break trip to ‘TJ’ (Tijuana), she was hospitalized after drinking herself into oblivion. Since then, she’s barely made it through an episode without busting out a bottle or flask of vodka. Summer even caught her spiking her latte at the school coffee shop in the second episode of this season.

And the word on the street is that Marissa moves on from the hunks of Newport in an upcoming episode — she apparently hooks up with wild girl Alex (Seth’s new flame).

 

7) The new allure of Ryan Atwood

It’s no secret that I melt for Seth, but Ryan’s not far behind. During the first season, I couldn’t understand the appeal of the show’s troubled main character — I mean, who could date someone with a brown leather strap permanently affixed to his wrist?!. But now that he’s ditched Marissa and Teresa, and stopped getting in a fight every episode, he’s starting to grow on me. And his budding romance with Lindsay (did they steal this name from look-alike Lohan?) makes my heart flutter — literally. I’m not just using that phrase to be cute.

 

8) The incest factor

Has anyone else noticed that nearly every character in the show is now related? Ryan was adopted in the beginning by the Cohens. After he started dating Marissa, her mom married Ryan’s new grandfather. And now that Ryan’s dating Lindsay, it was discovered she is the illegitimate love child of Ryan’s grandfather.

Confused? Basically, Ryan has been dating two of his “aunts” (Marissa is the step-daughter of his grandfather and Lindsey is the sister of his mom). Yeah, it’s really messed up. I thought they were going to run out of family members to hook up at the end of last season, but they keep surprising me.

 

Ellen wonders if anyone else remembers when Mischa Barton had that bit part opposite Hugh Grant in “Notting Hill.” She welcomes all “The O.C.” fans to write her at emcgarri@umich.edu.

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