The O.C. S1.E12 “The Secret”
Drinks Taken: 22
Welcome to another edition of The O.C. Rewatch Project! Last week, Meredith asked me how I feel about Julie and Caleb together. Knowing where their story goes, I love it so much. It’s not just that they’re both considered to be not exactly nice people that makes their pairing work, but that Caleb and Julie have so much they can teach each other – Caleb can learn to be more affectionate and empathetic through the demanding and high maintenance Julie, while Julie can learn to act a little more proper and a little less like a major Drama Queen (JK, Julie will always be Queen of Drama).
Time to get our drink on!
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
Now let’s get into these episodes.
1.11 “The Homecoming”
It’s Thanksgiving time in the O.C., and Kirsten is determined to make dinner on her own this year, but the fellas are not even having it – they refuse to let Kiki try out some kitchen experiments on what Seth claims is his favorite holiday (lies! Chrismukkah is his favorite!), so the guys take over the cooking. But Ryan gets a call from his brother, Trey, who asks Ryan to come visit him in prison. Marissa insists on coming along because if there’s potential trouble or drama involved, Marissa just has to be a part of it.
While Ryan and Marissa head to Chino to visit Trey, Sandy and Kirsten attempt to play matchmaker with Jimmy and Rachel, and the results are charmingly awkward. Seth has Anna over, who impresses Sandy with her elegant vocabulary and offers to help with dinner. Seth and Anna are being adorable, and Jimmy and Rachel are bonding over football, and everything is going suspiciously well. But just as Sandy and Kirsten clink their wine glasses together to congratulate themselves for a successful gathering, Caleb and Julie invite themselves over for dinner because the catering truck carrying their food broke down and they’re in need of a back-up plan.
To make matters worse, Summer drops in unannounced. Seth has gone from having zero prospects to having two women interested in him at the same time, so he stows Summer in the empty pool house and keeps Anna hidden upstairs in his room. There’s absolutely no way in hell that Seth is smooth enough to pull this classic sitcom dilemma off, and it’s hilarious watching him try. He bounces between Summer and Anna, engaging both ladies in some horizontal make-out sessions, which totally makes me cringe. In the language of Summer, ew!
Over in Chino, Ryan has to juggle two ladies as well when he goes to pick up a stolen car and deliver it for his brother to clear a debt. Ryan takes Marissa to the home of his childhood friend and on again/off again girlfriend Theresa, where he needs to retrieve the car from Teresa’s brother, Arturo. And even Arturo thinks that Trey is bad news for Ryan. While Ryan is busy dealing with the car business, Theresa and Marissa spend some QT together, and Marissa learns that Ryan used to be really into school musicals until he got to high school and Trey started getting him into trouble. She also learns that he had an entire life that he left behind in Chino, without even telling Theresa goodbye.
Seth calls Ryan for some advice regarding his douchey predicament, but Ryan is too preoccupied with his own lady problems, so Seth goes to good ol’ Sandy Cohen and his eyebrows for some no-nonsense advice. Meanwhile, Julie is making a scene with Jimmy and fretting over Marissa’s absence, and Caleb is being passive-aggressive to Sandy, and Kirsten is like FUCK THIS I AM DRINKING ALL OF THE BOOZE. Excellent coping skills, Kiki.
Before Seth can take Sandy’s advice and be honest with Anna and Summer, the ladies run into each other and Seth is busted. Seth stutters through the ordeal, and in his attempt to not hurt anyone’s feelings, he makes both ladies upset. Back in Chino, Trey realizes what a poor influence he’s been on Ryan and tells him never to come back. When Marissa and Ryan get back to the Cohen home, Julie is pissed because Marissa actually didn’t tell her she was going to Chino, but Marissa’s already been berated enough by Ryan for lying about it, and Caleb tells Julie to back off because it’s Thanksgiving.
In the midst of all of this drama, the turkey was ruined in the oven, and everyone ends the evening eating some tasty Chinese takeout instead – except for Kirsten, who drunkenly passed out after like, a dozen drinks.
How many times did I have to drink?
The social event of the week
Thanksgiving, obviously. Nothing like a big social event/holiday gathering to get everyone bickering. Except for Captain Oats. He’s a total gentleman.
Most bromantic moment
I really like when Seth dismisses with the sarcasm and knows when to take things seriously, like when he encourages Ryan to visit Trey. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have enough common sense to avoid the whole Anna/Summer drama.
The great Anna Stern debate
I think Anna is pretty great in this episode, from her polite manners as a guest in the Cohen home, to when she confidently hits Caleb with questions about his non-eco-friendly developments. And instead of making Summer and Anna hate each other even more because of what Seth did, it’s great to see them mutually directing their anger at Seth for being such an a-hole – however good his intentions might have been.
Best Julie Cooper bitchery
This moment. For real.
Best Seth Cohen line
“I dream about eating so much deliciousness that all the blood rushes to my stomach and I pass out at the table.” Seth really gets the point of Thanksgiving. Also, this:
Summer: “There was no way I was eating with my stepmom. Why does she need tryptophan, ’cause she’s on valium.”
1.12 “The Secret”
I am going to be real upfront about this episode: I like half of it, or at least 70% of it. That other portion of it is kind of homophobic and tone deaf, and that’s something that I’ve only realized now, having not watched this episode in years. But first things first: Summer, Anna, and Seth.
Anna and Summer are bonding over their mutual disappointment in Seth, which makes for some really cute moments: they go to the library to study together, they plan on going shopping, and the best part is that their new friendship is making Seth squirm. We also see more of Ryan’s newfound humor, as he teases Seth about trying to play hooky:
Ryan’s making puns! Now if we could just get him to let go of that damn leather cuff on his wrist… Ryan, you do not look tough.
Seth eventually apologizes sincerely to Summer and Anna, and it’s very sweet and thoughtful – of course, as soon as he apologizes, the ladies don’t think they need to hang out so much anymore and that’s a bit of a bummer (but it’s not the last of their friendship!). Summer asks Seth to take her on a date on Saturday night, and when Seth decides to stay honest and tell Anna about this, Anna gets kind of devious and asks Seth to hang out with her Friday night. Oy vey.
Julie and Kirsten overcome a bit of shady business when Julie tells everyone in their Yogalates class that Kirsten was drunk on Thanksgiving – but Julie’s having some troubles because Caleb got cold feet about their relationship and bailed on Julie when she needed him most. Jimmy has to sell their house to make restitution to the victims of his white collar crime, and Caleb could help, but taking his relationship with Julie – or any woman – to the next level is terrifying. After some beers and fried food and insight on Caleb’s inner workings with Kirsten, Julie puts her foot down and Caleb decides to stay with her and buy her house as an “investment.” These people are seriously pushing Kirsten into having a legit drinking problem. I do not blame her.
So here’s what I don’t like about this episode: Ryan and Luke are paired up for a class project and Luke takes Ryan to his dad’s car dealership to use his awesome computer. There, they stumble upon Luke’s dad, Carter, and his secret male lover. Carter has been lying to Luke and their family about all his trips out of town for work, and not only is he having an affair, but he’s having an affair with a man. When you introduce a story like this, you have a responsibility to be empathetic, considerate, and thoughtful, especially when you have a show that many young people are watching. This episode does not treat this subject matter responsibly, and instead we get “jokes” like Seth saying that Luke can’t really call him gay anymore, or the rival school bros who come up and call Luke a “fag” for hanging out with Ryan. There’s also the knee-jerk reaction from pretty much everyone (save for role models Kirsten and Sandy) that Carter’s sexuality is both laughable and off-putting.
On the one hand, yes, guys like Luke and these other bros would be the sort of guys who use “gay” in a derogatory manner, and who toss the word “fag” around carelessly. These are also the kinds of guys who would freely use the word “bitch” to insinuate that someone is acting like a girl. They are young, they are ignorant, and they willfully refuse to know better. It’s actually sort of an accurate representation of a specific young male mindset, however unpleasant.
On the other hand, the episode doesn’t really clarify that Luke or Seth have grown more accepting or mature from this experience. If they had perhaps written in a teaching moment -with Luke saying something to the effect of, “I don’t care that he’s gay, I’m just hurt that he lied to me,” or having Seth or Ryan tell Luke not to judge his father for his sexuality, but that it’s OK to be hurt because he lied – then you could get away with the bros being jerks or Luke cringing at his father’s affair. Instead, the episode remains a bit vague about Luke’s specific feelings, and he sounds like a broken record. “He lied! You lied! He lied!” Yes, OK, his dad lied, and that’s definitely the ultimate transgression, but this episode needs to make its characters feelings more clear, and express to its audience that the problem isn’t with Carter being gay, the problem is that he lied about it for a long, long time.
Okay, now that that’s off my chest, I did enjoy some bromantic moments between Ryan and Luke, as the former tries to help the latter realize that his dad is still a good dad, even if he hurt his family. But my eyeballs continue to roll in Marissa and Ryan’s general direction with all their romantic drama and their cutesy moments. It’s so soapy that I feel like I should be super squeaky clean by the end of each episode, and yet these two make me feel gross.
How many times did I have to drink?
Most recognizable song
The episode opens with “We Used To Be Friends” by The Dandy Warhols, which is also the theme song to one of Meredith’s favorite shows of all time, Veronica Mars.
Seth’s dorkiest moment
A friendship I’d like to see more of
Summer and Anna! They bond this week over Seth’s inconsiderate and disrespectful shenanigans. I love how instead of disliking each other and fighting over a boy – which is super cliche and predictable – they rightfully blame Seth and come together over his douchey behavior. Whatever your feelings on Anna’s characterization, I think we can all agree that this is the appropriate way to handle a love triangle situation.
Sandy Cohen’s eyebrows say
Best Kiki diss
When she realizes Julie told all the women at Yogalates that Kirsten has a drinking problem (FORESHADOWING!), she confronts Julie – Julie cheerfully brushes it off like, “We’re all friends here!” but Kiki is not even having it and replies, “Well if we’re all friends, why don’t you start acting like one?”
Sandy and Kirsten 4Ever
Jimmy tells Sandy about his kiss with Kirsten, which leads to Kirsten and Sandy having some Issues with a capital I. But later, Sandy and Kirsten make up and agree that you can’t possibly know everything about a person, but they should still trust and be honest with each other. Also, Kirsten and Sandy joke that she knows about Sandy’s porn stash on the computer BUT I DO NOT THINK IT IS A JOKE. Thinking about Sandy looking at porn kind of weirds me out though because he’s like, a dad.
That’s all for this week, but I have a question for all of you: How did you feel about “The Secret”? Did you feel as though it handled the subject matter responsibly, or do you agree with me? I know it’s sort of a product of its time, but I also feel as though this show originally aired in a time when it should have known better.
And a question for Meredith: Team Theresa or Team Marissa? I think I already know the answer to this question, so I will throw in a bonus: We all know how you feel about necklaces on men, but how do you feel about Ryan’s Chino Kid uniform with his wife beaters and his ridiculous leather cuff? It is super not tough.
Join Meredith back here next week for one of my favorite episodes, “The Best Chrismukkah Ever” and “The Countdown”!
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.