Title: The O.C. S1.E03 “The Gamble”
The O.C. S1.E04 “The Debut”
Released: 2003
Series:  The O.C.

Drinks Taken: 33

Last week, on The O.C.

Welcome to week 2 of The O.C. Rewatch Project! Last week, Meredith asked me one of the toughest questions of my O.C.-loving life: Fuck/Marry/Kill – Sandy Cohen, Seth Cohen, and a bagel. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I think I would obviously kill the bagel with my mouth, I would marry Sandy Cohen because he’s really got his life and eyebrows together, and I would fuck Seth – but only independently from being married to Sandy because otherwise that’s kind of gross, you know?

Now let’s get into the drinking game!

The O.C. Drinking Game

Drink once every time:

The ladies have a convo while primping in front of a mirror
Seth makes a nerdy reference
Someone says “Chino”
Marissa and Ryan stare at each other longingly
Anyone plays a video game

Drink twice every time: 

Someone says “Newpsie”
Fisticuffs occur
Someone grabs a cup of coffee
Ryan and Seth read comic books

Onto the first episode:

1.3 “The Gamble”

Ryan’s in juvie thanks to the model home shenanigans, and surrounded by a bunch of toughies in white tank tops (you would think he would feel right at home, you know?), so it’s Sandy Cohen to the rescue. Sandy and his eyebrows are doing everything they can to get Ryan out, but he needs to be released to a legal guardian. Cue credits, and Californiaaaa here we come!

The deal with Ryan is pretty complicated: his alcoholic mom is MIA, and Sandy and his bleeding heart really want to take him in, but Kirsten fears that Ryan’s a bad influence and will just get her precious, sheltered Seth into trouble – or worse. Live a little, Kiki! Seth wants to sneak away to visit Ryan, and he’s convinced that if Kirsten comes with, maybe he can change her mind about his new friend. Back at juvie, Ryan’s getting shoved around by the other dudes, which is both a nice metaphor for his overall life situation and makes you sort of resent the Newpsie way of living. Seth gets it, and I think Kirsten does, too. These women are obsessing over Casino Night as if it’s the biggest stress in their lives while day-drinking and having their fancy little snacks, and meanwhile this poor, disenfranchised youth is getting his ass kicked in juvie for something that’s not his fault. Now’s Kirsten’s chance to make a real difference in someone’s life instead of just hosting silly charity events that are merely excuses to dress up and have cocktails and schmooze and look like a good person.

Of course Kirsten busts Ryan out and brings him home, but both Kirsten and Sandy are still unsure about what to do with him. In the meantime, while Sandy goes off to work, Kirsten brings the boys to help setup Casino Night with the Newpsies. Marissa and Luke are also helping as penance for their part in the model home fire, which leads to some awkward drama between everyone when Ryan tries to apologize to Marissa and Marissa tries to apologize to Luke, and Seth is just trying to inflate some balloons because shrug. “We’re from two different worlds,” Marissa says, a fact that’s illustrated by that thin leather choker necklace Ryan wears and Luke’s Puka shell necklace. When does Ryan finally ditch that hideous choker? I feel like when that happens, it will be a moment that symbolizes that he’s been accepted into this world.

Speaking of being accepted, Julie gets some rude awakenings in this episode: after Sandy puts her in her place for judging Kirsten, an indignant and wounded Julie goes home to vent to Jimmy, who tells her that without Kirsten, they’d be broke. I’m a huge fan of Julie Cooper’s white trash origin story, and the way she desperately clings to the Newpsie lifestyle to escape it. We’re only getting hints of it now, but I’m already getting so pumped for the future Julie Cooper experience.

Sandy tracks down Dawn, Ryan’s mom, who’s seemingly trying to get her life back on track. She comes over to spend time with Ryan and the pair start to shakily mend their relationship. Of course, things go to hell at the Big Social Event (where else?), where Dawn has a little too much fun and just can’t stay away from all that free booze. There’s some Minor Drama when Sandy finds out about the loan to Jimmy, but Dawn is the main attraction here, and her drunken theatrics also provide another chance for Luke to prove he is actually an OK guy, regardless of his choices in greetings to newcomers/Puka shells/music/general scowling. Luke continues to get better.

It’s clear to everyone that Dawn can’t be the mother that Ryan needs (especially to Dawn herself), and it finally gives Kirsten the final push she’s needed to take Ryan in and give him a proper home and family. Welcome to the Cohen family, Ryan! I can’t wait for you to learn all about Chrismukkah!

How many times did I have to drink? 

17. I’m more drunk than Dawn Atwood.

The social event of the week

Casino Night! Ryan’s mom asks, “All their parties like this?” Pretty much! The neon sign says “Vegas Night,” so clearly these Newpsies never got their shit together when deciding a theme. Too many grapefruit mimosas.

Seth and Summer 4Ever

Or is it Sid? Stanley? Or Rabbit’s Foot? Whatever his name is.

Awkward Seth Cohen moment

Seth tries to get Marissa to tag along to see Ryan in juvie, accidentally spies Summer in her bra, and starts fumbling over his words like an adorable doofus.

He’s Just Sandy from the Bronx

Julie obliviously talks shit about Kirsten’s parenting skills at the coffee shop while Sandy sits nearby and overhears everything, but Sandy is totally classy about the whole thing. He pulls a parental “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed,” while sticking his fingers in Julie’s blueberry muffin, which is not a euphemism, and tells Julie that he expects better from the classy, well-to-do Newpsies.

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

Kirsten tells Julie, “I love your dress!” and Julie responds, “Thanks! It’s yours.” Total passive-aggressive way for Julie to acknowledge that she knows Kirsten owns her ass now. When Kirsten hugs Jimmy and walks away, Julie asks, “How much did you get for the hug?” Damn, Julie.

Seth and Ryan’s most bromantic moment

Ryan is welcomed to the family, and Seth immediately has to gossip about his evening with Summer in great detail. He is the cutest.

Role model of the week

Onto the next episode!

1.4 “The Debut” 

Ryan is officially a Cohen now! Sandy and Kirsten offer to legally adopt him, leaving the decision totally up to him, which shows off their keen parenting skills – it places the responsibility on Ryan’s shoulders to honor and respect them. Smooth move, Cohens. First order of business: Kirsten needs to take Ryan shopping for the basics, like bedding, towels, “underpants” (Seth cringes), and a tuxedo because this week’s Big Social Event is Cotillion! Cotillion is when all the most accomplished young ladies (or debutantes, aka debs) make their formal debut, and the young men escort them and dance with them – which also means Ryan and Seth get to attend dance class! Awkward moments incoming!

Even though Jimmy promised Sandy that everything was OK, Sandy also gets a little surprise this week when the SEC pops by his office to let him know that his neighbor Jimmy is in hot water with his clients – as in, he’s been ripping off the richies of Newport. Sandy’s impulse is to immediately call up everyone they know and warn them about Jimmy’s wrongdoings, but Kirsten makes him promise to hold off until she can hear it from Jimmy himself. Of course, it’s not as simple as just ripping people off – if you’ve met Julie Cooper, you know that she’s not a cheap lady to take care of, and Jimmy basically functions as the household ATM.

Meanwhile, Ryan’s promised to stay out of trouble, but he’s worried that Luke’s presence at these Big Social Events will end in the usual physical drama. His talk with Seth doesn’t do much to convince him to attend Cotillion, but helping Marissa fasten the back of her dress with a little sexual tension totally does.

It’s off to dance class where we meet one of my favorite O.C. characters of all time, Anna Stern! She’s from Pittsburgh (Summer says “ew!”) and she has the coolest style. Anna and Ryan are partnered up, which leaves Summer and Seth together – Summer is annoyed and Seth is thrilled, of course. He’s also got great dance moves:

Marissa tries to teach Ryan how to dance, giving them another moment of gooey tension just as Puka Bro Luke arrives to make a horribly distasteful joke about how Ryan is gay. Stop being the worst, Luke.

We actually get a bonus Big Social Event this week because Holly is throwing a party! As always, it’s an opportunity for Major Drama. Ryan and Marissa can’t even have a conversation without Puka Bro Luke getting insecure and starting a fight with Ryan, who has quickly become Newport’s own human punching bag. Here’s how we know Ryan is officially a Cohen: he doesn’t fight back when Luke punches him, and then he goes home to sit alone in his room and read comic books.

Marissa has second thoughts about Cotillion because she wants to break up with Luke, and Ryan has second thoughts about Cotillion because he’s worried he’ll break Luke’s dumb face, and Sandy has second thoughts about Cotillion because he doesn’t want to pretend Jimmy is a good guy, and Seth has second thoughts about Cotillion because Summer is breaking his little nerdy heart, and Jimmy is having second thoughts about Cotillion because he’s a crook – whew. And Julie is having a breakdown because no one else cares about Cotillion, but then Caitlin is like “I do, Mommy,” because at least one person in that house is not a disappointment. Unless you count China the pony, and I totally do.

Ryan and Sandy bond over their mutual Cotillion-avoidance and play some video games, while Seth and Anna bond over their mutual love of comic books, and we all start to develop a mega crush on Anna (or at least I do, and I hope you will join me and we can all be sister wives and share Big Love). Marissa ditches Cotillion, and Summer takes the opportunity to ditch Seth and trade up (down, it’s down) for Luke. But of course all it takes is a little visit from Marissa to convince Ryan to go to Cotillion after all.

And we’re off to Cotillion, the Biggest Social Event, which turns into the Biggest Clusterfuck of Drama. As soon as Marissa walks in with Ryan, Luke ends their relationship on the spot, which is probably (definitely) for the best. Summer went from having three dates to having zero and practically begs Seth for a date, but he’s not having it because Super Cool Anna is his date now. Holly’s dad beats the crap out of Jimmy for losing his money, Sandy gets a sucker punch to the face for trying to break it up, and Ryan has to intervene. Luke shows up to apologize and Marissa goes home alone, leaving Ryan and Luke unsure of where they stand.

But hey! At least there’s one happy ending! Let’s talk about Super Cool Anna, who teaches Seth how to be a confident dude. She loves comics, superheroes, and sailing, and she has great style and hair. She’s also really laidback and doesn’t let boy drama bother her at all, like when Ryan showed up with Marissa – she just shrugged her shoulders because she’s a confident, independent lady who doesn’t need a dude to validate her existence. Anna always made me wish that there was a spinoff show about her character or that there were more shows about girls like her. Marissa and Summer could learn so much from Anna Stern, and obviously so can Seth.

How many times did I have to drink? 


The social event of the week

Cotillion, obviously, where even a total mensch like Sandy Cohen can get punched in the face. I was under the impression that debutante balls were a southern thing, but I guess when you have that much money and free time and you need a Big Social Event every week, you start running out of ideas pretty quickly. Maybe next week they’ll celebrate Chinese New Year!

Seth and Ryan’s most bromantic moment

Ryan happily gives up his date and tells Seth to go ahead and walk home alone with Anna. CUTIES. Sure, there’s a little something selfish (her name is Marissa) behind Ryan’s reasoning, but you know he wants Seth to be happy too.

Most recognizable song of the episode

“Why Can’t I?” by Liz Phair, playing while Summer and Marissa shop for Cotillion dresses!

Best Seth Cohen line

Seth: “Wow. You’re a really good barbecutionist.”

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

Julie: “Marissa, do you want to end up like your Aunt Cindy with four kids in a trailer park? She broke my mother’s heart. I will not let you break mine!”

Yo, I want to go party with Aunt Cindy. I bet she’s got all the booze.

Super Cool Anna Moment

When Ryan finally shows up to Cotillion and she sasses him about ditching her. “Don’t worry, your hitmen already took care of it for you.” Anna refers to Marissa as Princess Mononoke (!) and when he asks if she’s OK, she’s all, “Oh, so now you care? Go.” Psh. She doesn’t need this. She’s cool drinking soda and talking about graphic novels with Seth Cohen.

Hangin’ With Sandy Cohen

We’ve made it through the first four episodes! So I want to hear from you guys: What are your feelings about Anna? Revisiting these first episodes, I had forgotten how shady and shallow early Season 1 Summer was, and how little I connected with the character. So what are your current feelings about Anna-Summer-Seth, especially if you’ve never seen the series before?

And a question for Meredith: Which is worse – Luke’s Puka shell necklace or Ryan’s stringy leather choker necklace? I know how much you hate it when men wear necklaces.

Join Meredith next Wednesday morning as she covers “The Outsider” and “The Girlfriend”!

Contributor Britt Hayes

About the Contributor:

Britt Hayes is a writer and sensible sweater enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She loves movies, watches too much television, and her diet consists mostly of fruit snacks and revenge.


This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.