The O.C. S1.E20 “The Telenovela”
Drinks Taken: 18
I am so glad that whole Oliver mess is over, and I’m even more glad that Meredith covered it because I was Done with a capital D with that foolishness. Last week, Meredith asked me how I feel about Julie and Luke’s blossoming relationship, and I am totally on board. It’s such a wacky pairing! I mean, so often on television shows we watch as the writers rotate single characters into and out of relationships, like, “Who’s single? OK, let’s pair them up.” And this is totally that, but in the most delightfully bonkers way. Luke and Julie are all alone, so let’s just put them together and see what happens. It feels almost satirical. Almost.
Let’s drink to Luke and Julie, or Juke, as I will call them.
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”
Anyone plays a video game
Summer says “ew”
Anyone eats a bagel
Drink twice every time:
Someone says “Newpsie”
Someone grabs a cup of coffee
Ryan and Seth read comic books
Someone reminds us that Kaitlin Cooper exists
1.19 “The Heartbreak”
It’s Valentine’s Day in the O.C., and rather than make the episode into a nauseatingly smoochy love fest, Josh Schwartz & Co. take the opportunity to explore the drama of the holiday. Not even the amazing Kirsten and Sandy are immune to the drama, as they kick the episode off bickering about the holiday. Everyone’s sort of fragmented in “The Heartbreak,” but let’s start with Seth and Summer.
Seth loses his virginity to Summer after he assures her that the reason he and Anna broke up was because Summer is his one and only, but things don’t go very well, which is to be expected (though no one usually realizes it’s to be expected until much later). The first time you have sex (not just the first time ever, but usually the first time with someone new), things can be pretty bumpy. It takes patience to find a mutual rhythm, but the most important thing is to have a good time, which Seth and Summer just aren’t doing. Marissa and Ryan give the best, most appropriate advice, which is just to try again, but the second time around isn’t much better, either. Seth and Summer spend much of the episode trying to figure out if their sex troubles are indicative of something worse – it’s super endearing watching them fumble their way through this whole situation.
Meanwhile, Ryan and Marissa aren’t on the best of terms. Usually Marissa is the one manufacturing Major Drama, but this week it’s Ryan, who ridiculously refuses to forgive Marissa and acts like this whole Oliver thing was the most egregious offense she could have committed. How can he trust her now? How can he be sure they won’t let someone come between them again? When Theresa shows up as a caterer for the Valentine’s Day Singles Dance Gala, it’s a comfort to the wounded Ryan. Theresa and Ryan share a similar background, so she understands him in a way that his friends in Newport just can’t, and with Theresa around, it’s reaffirming Ryan’s need to distance himself from Marissa.
Look, I think Ryan and Marissa could use some distance, but the Oliver situation isn’t the reason (or the only reason) why. Ryan is being insanely melodramatic about this whole thing, and while it’s understandable to an extent, it’s also the most annoying thing about this episode. Ugh, children.
Even Jimmy gets in on V-Day with some secret admirer cookies from Hayley, who – surprise! – hasn’t left Newport after all, and is just chillin’ on a boat at the dock with her wino friend. These two make a cute couple (Jimmy and Hayley, but I guess Hayley and the wino girl are fun, too.)
And then there’s Julie, who’s all alone and has decided to sit Valentine’s Day out to chill at home with some wine and Bob Seger instead. This is the best idea Julie has ever had.
But Luke isn’t letting that look from last week go so quickly, so he keeps adorably showing up at the Cooper house like a needy little puppy. It’s just the sort of flattery that Julie is craving – some hot young dude totally wants her just after some old rich dude kicked her to the curb. This is great for her self-esteem, though ethically (and legally?) questionable. If I may, I’m gonna get a bit serious for a sec: if the genders were reversed here, we’d find this incredibly unseemly and kind of repulsive. If a teen girl were showing up at some grown man’s door all, “Me and my friends always play the ultimatum game, like whose dad do you want to bone, and you always win,” and just throwing herself at an older adult, it would be kind of sad. We’d think the young girl has some emotional and psychological issues, and if the older man were to give in to her appeals, we’d find him disgusting and his actions morally reprehensible. But this whole Luke and Julie situation plays into the fantasy of the younger man and the older woman, or the hot teacher and the virile young student. It’s reflective of some seriously sexist societal issues.
THAT ASIDE – because The O.C. is a fun teen melodrama, and the idea of Luke and Julie is kind of awesomely bonkers, and because this is all fiction, we let it slide. Or I do, anyway. Just as long as I (and maybe you) remain aware of the implications.
And speaking of the grown-ups, Sandy and Kirsten get into a major fight this week over Valentine’s Day because Sandy hates the manufactured BS holiday, but Kirsten can’t help but love the idea of sharing a day with your sweetheart and doing special things together just because. I see both sides of this argument because I (like many people) am of two minds about the holiday: yes, it’s a made-up consumer holiday, and if you aren’t with anyone, you feel bad like Julie and just want to drink wine until it’s over. But if you’re with someone, it can be a fun excuse to go out to dinner and treat each other to little heart-shaped gifts and shower each other with additional affection because why not?
Of course, by episode’s end, Sandy is the MVP: not only has he had a (painfully awkward and hilarious) sex talk with Seth, but he’s also given Marissa a very kind talk about Ryan’s fear of abandonment and his emotional issues, which encourages Marissa to not give up on Ryan just because of some crazy dude with a gun (who hasn’t been there, right?). Sandy’s kind heart reminds Kirsten how much she loves this man, and when they go home, she’s surprised to find that he’s covered their bedroom with flowers and chocolates and all kinds of heart-shaped goodness. If you love someone, you don’t scoff at the things that are important to them, no matter how silly you think they are – you indulge them because you want them to be happy, and you want to share in that happiness. I know, I just vomited a little too, but we’ll get through this together.
As for Marissa and Ryan – Marissa refuses to give up on him, but he makes it abundantly clear that he’s not letting this stupid drama go anytime soon. Poor Marissa leaves the pool house in tears, forced to give up on Ryan because he’s left her with no other choice.
And as for Seth and Summer – Summer admits that although she has something of a mature reputation, she was also a virgin, and the pair decide to take things nice and slow. Captain Oats and Princess Sparkles approve.
How many times did I have to drink?
The social event of the week
Valentine’s Day Singles Dance Gala charity event for the Newport hospital – it just sounds like such a high maintenance event. Describing it seems exhausting.
Summer may have feelings for Seth, but she’s smartly not going to date him just because Anna dumped him, as if she’s just been waiting around for him to be single (she kind of has, but girl’s got integrity and a sweet sense of self-worth). Summer totally shuts him down: “I’m not gonna be your sloppy seconds, ass-face.”
Best pop culture reference
Seth, describing awkward sex with Summer: “I was like a fish flopping around on dry land. Ryan, I was Nemo and I just wanted to go home.”
How we know Seth and Sandy are related
Oh man, that entire awkward sex talk between Seth and Sandy is a beautiful thing to behold. It’s so painful for them, and they both keep hilariously cringing away from details like it’s just too horrendous to really talk about it, but they kind of have to. I also love when they form an alliance against poor Kirsten in the opening scene, assuring her that Chrismukkah is a legit holiday, but Valentine’s Day is totally stupid.
Most recognizable song
Two! Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” (and this is not the only time we’ll hear it on the show – it comes into play at least two more times), and Ryan Adams’ lovely cover of “Wonderwall” by Oasis.
Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows say
On to the next episode!
1.20 “The Telenovela”
We have to keep this drama train moving, right? Theresa has taken a semester off to work at the Mermaid Inn in the O.C. and earn some cash, so she’s going to be around for a while. Marissa and Ryan try to go back to being friends, but – as everyone is quick to remind them -they were never friends to begin with, so being friends isn’t going to be easy… especially when Marissa is still in love with Ryan, and Ryan is distracted by Theresa. As it turns out, Eddie, Theresa’s boyfriend from back home, has asked her to marry him, but instead of answering him, she ran off to the O.C. What a convenient location!
Now that Jimmy’s doing OK for himself, he gives Marissa some quality advice about Ryan (though I imagine his advice would be different if he knew the whole story), so she invites herself over to the Cohens’ family dinner, where Theresa is already a guest. This made me shout “MARISSA” in all-caps because it’s such a cringe-inducing and inappropriate thing to do. You don’t just show up to your ex-boyfriend’s house, see his old girlfriend/BFF happily enjoying dinner with him and his family, and decide to join them. NOPE. NOT OK.
I feel Marissa’s pain, I really do, but this is simply improper. She is acting crazy. It’s never cool when a dude is making you act like a crazy person. But the whole Theresa situation brings about the reason for the episode’s title, as Seth points out that it’s just like watching a telenovela – so much heightened drama to enjoy from a safe distance! And although Ryan finds out about Theresa’s sort-of-engagement to Eddie, that doesn’t keep him from making the moves on her… after he spends a good chunk of time doing that whole super serious brooding face thing. Hardly surprising. I think we’ll be in for some good old fashioned fisticuffs pretty soon because Eddie seems like the kind of dude who punches his way through obstacles.
And Seth isn’t immune from the drama, as Summer keeps ignoring him at school – naturally, Seth’s first assumption is that she’s ashamed to be seen with him or admit that they’re together. Anna reluctantly advises Seth to stop being a coward and put his foot down, but that doesn’t work for very long because Summer just can’t stay away. Eventually, she comes clean to Anna and heartbreakingly explains that she’s terrified that, because Seth is so much smarter than her and they have so little in common, he’s going to get bored and leave her like every other dude eventually does. It’s such an honest moment that cuts to the heart of our insecurities in relationships – as Anna points out, once you get what you want, you’ve now got something to lose. Gah. My heart.
This also leads to one of the all-time greatest O.C. moments, as Seth goes to the kissing booth, where Summer is about to let a bunch of lame high school dudes make out with her in exchange for a donation to charity. Seth jumps up on the booth and, in front of a lot of their peers, declares his love for Summer, and promises he’s not going anywhere. All the dudes hate it, but all the ladies think this is the sweetest thing ever and wish they had a Cohen of their own. Nailed it.
As for Julie and Luke, they’ve been busy shacking up at the Mermaid Inn (SO CONVENIENT), but Julie is having second thoughts because she’s a mom and a grown-up, and she has responsibilities Luke cannot even begin to understand because he’s worried about making it to homeroom while she’s fretting over Kaitlin’s diorama (oh hey, remember Kaitlin?). Julie reminds us that Luke is 18 years old so we can feel better about it or something, but he’s still in high school – you’re basically a child until you’re 25, anyway.
Caleb re-enters the picture, asking Sandy for help getting his colleague and longtime friend Sean out of trouble after he “accidentally” stumbles into someone’s hotel room while drunk. Sandy takes the opportunity to show Caleb how awesome he is and agrees to help if he can, but as it turns out, ol’ Uncle Sean isn’t exactly the most morally upright dude – he was in that hotel room on purpose to steal some paperwork that would help Caleb, and Caleb friggin’ knew about it, of course.
But now that he’s back around, Caleb pops over to Julie’s with some flowers and tells her how much he misses her, but she quickly recognizes this as nothing more than a booty call – I mean, Julie Cooper probably invented the booty call, so she knows one when she sees one, and she is not even having it. Good for her. But then she calls Luke for a booty call (while wearing a hideous hat and sunglasses combo, as if she needs to be incognito on the phone), so… good for her? Sure.
How many times did I have to drink?
Eric Balfour plays Theresa’s boyfriend, Eddie. You know him from episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Six Feet Under, and more recently from Haven. He also played the hippie dude in Can’t Hardly Wait (who wasn’t in that movie, right?), and starred in What Women Want and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake, obvi).
Caleb has no idea what a booty call is. He’s so out of touch with the times. Get with it, man.
Friendship I’d like to see more of
I know Caleb can be super awful and ethically questionable, but I really enjoyed seeing him and Sandy together. I especially loved Caleb asking if there was any more of Sandy’s mother’s meatloaf lying around. I do want him and Julie to reunite soon because she makes him such a better guy.
There are so many hideous outfits this week, I can hardly stand it. Not only is Marissa wearing a long-sleeved white shirt under a tube dress, but she’s also wearing jeans. Hey, remember when we used to wear jeans under skirts? That was a time. Then there’s Anna, wearing a silky blouse over a striped shirt, which, just, no. And finally, Julie’s hilarious pink incognito nightmare ensemble, like she’s some trophy wife on a Real Housewives of The O.C. reality show who leads a double life as a spy.
Best pop culture reference
Seth explaining to Summer that they are not famous, though some day she could have have “a series of MTV-driven radio hits, and then, you know, a little moderately priced teen clothing line,” while he could be offered $20 million to play “a blind superhero in a red leather unitard.” You know, just like Ben Affleck and J.Lo.
So that’s it for this week, but here’s my question for you guys: what do you think of the Julie and Luke affair plot? Do you think it’s totally gross, or are you loving the trashy and delightful drama?
And for Meredith: what do you think of the whole Ryan/Marissa/Theresa/Eddie romantic rhombus? Are you Team Theresa or Team Marissa? JK, no one is ever Team Marissa.
We’ll see you guys back here next Wednesday morning as Meredith covers “The Goodbye Girl” and “The L.A.”
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.