I think the followed dialogue, taken from the transcript of a conference call for college students to discuss “The O.C.: Season 4” with Josh Schwartz, the creator and executive of the Fox TV hit, sets the stage perfectly:
Teleprompter: And next we have a question from?
Joe Aphinyanaphongs: Hey Jason. What’s up?
Josh Schwartz: It’s Josh.
Joe Aphinyanaphongs: Oh…
Joe Aphinyanaphongs: My bad — I didn’t quite get how these teleconferences would work so I didn’t think I’d even get to ask my question, so I was just, uh, dry cleaning. (I meant to say “dusting with a Swiffer,” but that isn’t what came out of my mouth.)
Josh Schwartz: So you say you go to Yale?
Joe Aphinyanaphongs: Yeah.
Josh Schwartz: I don’t believe you.
So perhaps this network sensation does not have the same presence as it used to. At least I know that back in the day, when I was a wee freshman and Pluto was still a planet, “The O.C.” was everyone’s guilty pleasure, especially for my three roommates, all future SAE brahs. Presently, however, mentioning “The O.C.” is immediately followed by confusion with “Old Campus,” before a follow-up of “Oh, I thought they killed Marissa,” signifying some understanding that the show would no longer continue after her martyrdom.
But as per Schwartz, “The O.C.” is alive, well, and ready to get you “whet.”
Schwartz did not reveal any specific plot lines, but took the time to specify the different direction the show will take after Marissa Cooper’s “tragic” death. Those of you wondering if she is really dead should just go ahead and throw away that bottle of lube, because our poor Marissa, having endured more drama than Aleksey Vayner could write on a resume, is deader than a doornail, which actually might make her a better actress (*badum dum!*). Schwartz also whole-heartedly denied all accusations that the show’s starlet, Mischa Barton, was written out of the script for “personal reasons.”
The resonance of her untimely death — “Nam quia nec fato merita nec more peribat!” — will remain forceful for many future episodes. Julie Cooper, mother of Marissa, turns to extreme measures to cope with her daughter’s passing — though I think it would be stretching it to assume she’s going to get involved in the trade of East Asian sex trafficking, as “The O.C.” tackles the greater social issues plaguing America. Kaitlin Cooper, Marissa’s non-existent sibling pre-season 1, will be certain to stir things up in a fit of bringing attention back to herself.
Meanwhile, Marissa’s best friend, Summer, leaves Orange County to matriculate at this Ivy League school that doesn’t even make the top 10 in US News rankings. What is it called again? Oh, right. Brown University. Schwartz, a native of Providence, R.I., said there were many stock shots taken of the area, because of the expensive nature of shooting on campus and having too many hippies in the background. Hopefully, production will follow in the oh-so-realistic footsteps of “Gilmore Girls.”
Leaving her problems behind, Summer’s state of vulnerability leaves her prey to the whims of a tree-hugging “trustafarian,” who causes new “dimensions” of Summer’s character to surface.
Summer and Seth do the long distance-thing. Still the Jew-y comic relief of the show, Seth deals with fewer family issues as the Cohens, Sandy and Kirsten, re-solidify themselves as the voices of reason. As the Cohens reinforce the values of a true American family, complete with AA meetings and legal exploitations, the battle for Ryan’s soul begins. What this battle entails, I am not sure, but I think you can rule out Level 9 mages and exorcising priests, unfortunately.
Schwartz was not lying when he stressed that this breathes life back into “The O.C.,” but only your schedule on Thursday nights and your television habits will be the judge of that. While there are only so many bi-curious incidents, psychotic stalkers and drug addictions that you can pack into one hour-long television drama, it will be a challenge for the writers to give us a reason to watch religiously like we used to. The only way to find out whether the 13-year-old TeenBop connoisseur within all of us is still kicking or drowned at the bottom of a river in New Jersey is to watch and wait.