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Saying farewell to ‘The OC’ hard for fans

Erin McGinn | Thursday, March 1, 2007

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to memorialize the death of a close friend. Last Thursday brought us, as Seth Cohen would say, to the end of an era as “The OC” aired for the final time.

If seniors weren’t nostalgic enough already about life at Notre Dame quickly coming to a close, the end of “The OC” is another brick being laid down on the path to graduation. “The OC” began four years ago, as the senior class entered Notre Dame as freshman. During that year, “OC” watches were held every Thursday in nearly every dorm on campus. A couple of times there were campus-wide watches held in LaFortune. For that precious hour on Thursday, much of the campus was brought together. People instantly bonded over their mutual love for “The OC.”

While “The OC” fell under the teen drama umbrella, it quickly surpassed others of its ilk through its snappy dialogue and well-developed characters. “The OC” began with Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) coming in off the streets and living with the Cohen family – kindhearted public defender Sandy (Peter Gallagher), his loving wife Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) and their son Seth (Adam Brody) – in the posh suburbs of Newport Beach. He quickly learns the perils of party girls, water polo players and the dreaded Newpsies. In the meantime, he falls in love with the girl next door, Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), and Seth with Marissa’s best friend, Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson).

Seth, Summer, Ryan and Marissa quickly became nothing short of pop culture sensations. Seth, a lovable comic book geek, in particular became popular as the poster-child for the emo crowd that was just starting to emerge. His quips and pop-culture references rocketed him to a special place in the hearts of fans. His “Seth Cohen Starter Pack” and invention of “Chrismukkah,” a Christmas and Hanukkah hybrid, were instant classics, and both the starter pack as well as Chrismukkah accessories can be purchased on sites like eBay.

The first season was a great success, and fans eagerly awaited to see what would come next for their beloved Newport crew. The second season brought new faces, with the introductions of Alex and Lindsay, as well as Ryan’s troubled brother Trey. Although fans held high hopes, “The OC” didn’t shine nearly as bright as it used to. Aided by Alex, Marissa experimented with her sexual orientation, Lindsay was (in)conveniently discovered to be related to the Cohens and Trey almost killed Ryan.

With the beginning of the third season, “The OC” was starting to lose the fans that were so enamored with the show’s first season. The charm and character that was such a mainstay of early episodes had greatly diminished. With the death of Marissa at the end of the season, fans left in droves, and the fans that stayed worried about the future of the series.

At the same time, another show was gaining momentum, one that would eventually lead to the death of “The OC” – “Grey’s Anatomy.” While “The OC” was losing ground, “Grey’s Anatomy” was rapidly picking up a large fan base. When “The OC” returned for its fourth season, it was in direct competition with the medical phenomenon.

Although few of their fans remained, the show returned to its roots and produced some of the best episodes to date. It was nice to see “The OC” restore the luster of its brilliant first season. Unfortunately, it couldn’t survive against “Grey’s.” Fox tried to move it to Wednesday, but that placed it against the other titan, “LOST.” Fox isn’t exactly known for its support of promising young shows (see: “Family Guy,” “Arrested Development” and “Firefly”) and early in 2007 they declared that “The OC” would be coming to a close.

The final episode, aired last Thursday, did the show justice, and cemented its legacy. Flashes of scenes from the first season, of Ryan in the Cohen’s house for the first time or of seeing Marissa in the driveway, were heartwrenching and nostalgic for fans.

Although “The OC” might be off the air, it will certainly live forever in the hearts of its fans. Horses named Princess Sparkle and Captain Oats, true love atop a coffee cart and the further adventures of Kid Chino, Little Miss Vixen and The Ironist are unlikely to be forgotten, at least in this television lifetime or the next.