Filling the void left by such seminal shows as “Beverly Hills
90210″ and “Melrose Place,” “The O.C.” is the story of a young man,
Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) from a destitute part of town. He becomes
embroiled in trouble with the law and is invited to live with his
lawyer Sandy Cohen’s (Peter Gallagher) rich family. With a
soundtrack that captures the feel of the show, “The O.C.” provides
salacious and campy entertainment in an otherwise mundane
television landscape. This new trashy melodrama, which takes place
in ritzy Newport Beach, Calif., has become a sensation with horny
teenagers and young adults alike.

Mira Levitan
Fuck me, your majesty. (Courtesy of FOX)

To be sure, “The O.C.” is not winning its time slot as a result
of the quality of its scripts, but rather the beautiful young
people who inhabit the beautiful California setting. A show filled
with kids that look like they came straight off the pages of an
Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue provides plenty of eye candy for
both sexes.

College kids enjoy watching the tawdry exploits and sexual
escapades of the pretty boys and prima donnas of Newport Beach.
Since “90210” ended in 2000, there has been a noticeable absence of
inane plots on the air. Last week’s episode featured a scene in
which a boy from the valley partied in Newport and shot someone
because of a verbal spat. Entertainment such as this is unmatched
anywhere else except on FOX’s beacon of trash.

However, a flaw exists in that many of the “high schoolers”
appear to be in their late twenties. Eventually, the cast will face
a “Dawson’s Creek” situation where the actors are so much laughably
older than their characters, specifically in the case of McKenzie
who plays a character eight years younger than his actual age.

While many would consider “The O.C.” to be simply lowbrow
entertainment, it allows a weekly escape from the rigors of life
into a world even more messed up than reality. In contrast to the
crap often shown in reality television, especially FOX’s own
garbage like “Paradise Hotel,” “The O.C.” still has a moral center
and a message to send to its viewers.

In a few years, the toughest challenge for “The O.C.” will come
when the characters are faced with the inevitable growth from their
high school environment which has crippled shows in the past like
“90210” and “Saved by the Bell.” The major test for the writers
will be keeping the plot lines fresh, but not veering too far off
the deep end.

After tonight’s episode, FOX is putting the show on a six-week
hiatus before moving it to Thursdays at the end of October. This
move places it against much more formidable competition than the
reality programs and reruns found during its summer run. The cult
following is slowly growing, but might lose some momentum with all
of the scheduling changes. Nevertheless, for fans of teenage
melodrama, there is nothing better than a trip to “The O.C.”








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