Title: The O.C. S1.E01 “Pilot”
The O.C. S1.E02 “The Model Home”
Released: 2003
Series:  The O.C.

Drinks Taken: 28

Welcome to the very first edition of The O.C. Rewatch Project! Britt Hayes and I will be taking turns tackling two eps a week, and we very much hope that you will join along with us, Chino, the Cohens, the Coopers, Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows and all of those delicious-looking bagels. 

Now, let’s get this party started the way all parties should start: with a drinking game!

The O.C. Drinking Game

Drink once every time:

Ryan wears a white tank top
Someone calls Ryan “Chino”
Summer says “ew”
Anyone eats a bagel
Ryan gives Marissa A Tough, Sexy Look
Kirsten’s cooking is mocked
Anyone plays a video game
Seth and Ryan’s bromance makes you swoon

Drink twice every time: 

Fisticuffs occur
There’s a reference to “The Valley”
Someone says “Newpsie”
Anyone mentions The Nana

On to the episodes!

1.1 “Pilot”

Meet Ryan Atwood, teenage Chino toughie and muscled wearer of white tank tops! He and his brother Trey (not the Trey we’ll meet later, it’s worth noting) open our beloved series by stealing a car rather poorly. Ryan gets locked up, and who comes to his rescue but Sandy Cohen, Public Defender To The Punks, and also his heroic eyebrows. Sandy is impressed by Ryan’s SAT scores, erudite vocabulary and sensitive brooding properties, so he gives Ryan his home number in case Ryan ever needs it. Ryan immediately needs it because his drunk of a mom and abusive a-hole of a mom’s boyfriend kick him out of the house, so Sandy brings Ryan home to his Newport mansion. 

Meet the Cohens! Kirsten is the source of Sandy’s money: polished and pristine and not entirely pleased that Sandy has brought home one of his hooligan charity cases, but she’ll replace the sheets in the pool house anyway because that is what happens when you’re married to A Mensch. Seth, the Cohens’ son, is a bumbly, stuttery, nerdy DREAMBOAT and the holder of all of our hearts. Early Season One Seth Cohen is the perfect man, before he gets a little too, well, Seth

And here, at 13 minutes in, is where I first fell in love with The O.C. Make no mistake: the story of The O.C. is that of two teen boys meeting and falling in heterosexual, platonic love. When I first watched the pilot, I fully expected the Tough Chino Delinquent and Sensitive Jewish Nerd to lock horns; that The O.C. has them immediately bonding over video games and then confiding their hopes and dreams to one another on a sailboat is why The O.C. is the absolute greatest. 

Meet Marissa Cooper! She’s fashionable, she’s rebellious, she’s mumblemouthed, she likes to party. She and Ryan immediately share broody sparks and both act like they’re much tougher and scarier than either of them will prove to be in the future. Marissa’s best friend is The Coolest, one Miss Summer Roberts, and as Britt said to me last week, this exchange pretty accurately sums up their friendship and their individual approaches to vice: 

Summer: “Look what I stole!”
Marissa: “Look what I stole!”
GIFS from ocgifs

Seth is in love with Summer and has named his boat after her, but she literally does not know he exists. Summer’s a great friend but also leaves Marissa’s drunk, unconscious ass on the driveway for Ryan to rescue for the first of hundreds of times, but once we get to know Marissa better we will totally understand where Summer is coming from here.

Meet Marissa’s parents! Julie Cooper is The Fucking Best. She is kind of evil and totally wonderful and probably hates Marissa. Jimmy Cooper is Tate Donovan and basically a drag. The SEC is awfully interested in Jimmy and he’s having panic attacks at social events, so we can all assume that Jimmy Is A Crook. We also learn that Jimmy and Kirsten almost got married once upon a time and that Sandy doesn’t enjoy hearing that fact acknowledged. 

Meet The Newpsies! Newport Beach is a long way from Chino, and Ryan has far to go to fit into this posh, superficial community, even though he looks totally baller in a suit, a fact that both Marissa and Summer cannot fail to notice. Newport Beach has tony charity events every single week and the high school parties are INSANE, with champagne and cocaine to go along with the kegs because these kids are way too rich. The pilot episode is directed by Doug Liman of Go fame, so homeboy knows from teenage debauchery.

Meet Luke! He’s Marissa’s meathead water polo boyfriend who immediately cottons on to the fact that Marissa is eyeballin’ Ryan. He starts throwing wayward punches and we get this classic moment of television history: 

Also Seth sees Summer hitting on Ryan and gets his little feelings hurt, but when Luke tries to beat up Seth, as well (Early Luke beats up everyone), Ryan saves him and Seth swoons a little, as do we all. But when Kirsten sees that after one day of hanging with Ryan Atwood, her precious little nerd has a black eye and is suffering his first hangover, she tells Ryan he has to hit the road. Stop salting Seth’s game, Kirsten. Ryan, who’s in the midst of cooking a big breakfast for his new family, instantly accepts that he has to leave, because he’s used to moms kicking him out. “It’s okay, I get it. You have a really nice family.” GAH, tears.

More tears: Sandy takes Ryan home, only for them to discover that Drunk Mom and Abusive A-Hole Mom’s Boyfriend have moved out and abandoned him. Ryan looks stunned, and Sandy just gently tells him, “Come on, let’s go.” Credits!

How many times did I have to drink? 


The social event of the week

Marissa organizes a fashion charity show to benefit the battered women’s shelter. You should know that I love fictional fashion shows.

Guess who?

YA everywoman Shailene Woodley shows up as Marissa’s younger sister Caitlin, who will (spoiler!) later disappear and then reappear as Willa Holland, currently playing the EXACT SAME CHARACTER on Arrow

Truest thing anyone said this week

Ryan, telling Marissa at the coke-fueled Newport rager: “I think I can get into less trouble where I’m from.” 

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

To her gorgeous size 0 daughter, “Are you going to wear the Donna Karan tonight, Mariss? I thought it was very forgiving.”

The worst dress of the fashion show

Poor Summer was stuck in this gaudy Pucci wrap dress with eyeshadow to match. She still rocked it, however, because she is Summer. 

Best Seth Cohen line

As he stumbles onto three teens going at it in a Jacuzzi tub at the party, “Wow, sorry! I really should learn to knock…in case there’s a threesome going on in the bathroom.”

Most bromantic moment

Seth and Ryan’s goodbye at the end of the episode. Seth’s going to visit Ryan in Chino! He gives him a map of the Pacific Ocean and they hug <3

Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows say

Sandy: “Come on, let’s go.”

1.2 “The Model Home” 

So Sandy brings Ryan back to the pool house for a night while they try to find his mother or turn him over to the state, a fact about which only Seth is brave enough to say: “But we have all this extra room, right? We have a pool house. Yet you guys are going to ship him off to a group home. Am I the only one who gets how much that sucks?” Ryan assures everyone that it’s okay, but Kirsten (the only person standing in the way of Ryan and his Pool House) is clearly feeling pretty guilty about all of this. She’s also super stressed at work, because of her father, Caleb, whom we don’t meet yet, but we get the impression that he’s a handful (and then some, we’ll find). She’s got a model home she’s trying to finish in order to sell a bunch of Newpsies on an expensive housing development, but the contractor’s disappeared while the model home is in disarray. 

This comes in useful when Ryan decides to run away, and Seth has the bright idea to stow him at the model home until they can come up with a more permanent plan. Marissa, who spends the first few episodes of this series living at the foot of her driveway, catches them and insists on helping. They deck out the model home with a tent (Seth) and some cucumber Kiehl’s (Marissa), but then quickly blow Ryan’s cover by enjoying a fun-loving montage at the Balboa Pier. The hijinks are interrupted when they run into Luke and his water polo pals, and Luke continues to be a meathead and Ryan continues to be fairly awesome, if alarmingly pugilistic.

Meanwhile, Sandy and Kirsten are still looking frantically for Ryan, suspecting that Seth knows something but unable to confirm it. They come close to uncovering the kids’ scheme when Kirsten and Jimmy head to the model home for some light flirting and a safe place for Jimmy to ask-not-ask-but-really-he’s-asking Kirsten for ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS to get him out of his financial troubles. Kirsten shrugs, “I’ll write you a check,” because she is very, very rich and also still has feelings for Jimmy, feelings that do not negate the fact that she is in The Best Marriage Ever. Marissa, Ryan and Seth overhear this exchange, by the way, because at least half of the drama that ensues on The O.C. is instigated when someone lurks around a corner and overhears something they shouldn’t. 

Marissa, Seth and Ryan grow pretty close in this episode as they’re literally playing house, and I love seeing the seeds of their friendship germinate. I can’t wait until Summer gets in on this action.

But at the moment, Summer and Luke are growing mistrustful of Marissa’s newfound independence from the rich kid group, and Luke suspects it’s Chino-related. So he grabs a bunch of jocks and follows Marissa as she heads to the model home and tries to stay the night, but Ryan gets all Tough Guy and tells her to go because he knows he won’t be able to leave Newport if he gets wrapped up in Marissa’s shit. Marissa runs off, crying (get used to that sight), and Luke and the Water Polo Pack start beating up Ryan and knock over the dozens of candles he’s lit even though he didn’t intend to seduce anyone. So yeah, the model home burns down. Luke, at first, leaves an unconscious Ryan for dead, but we get our initial glimpse that he’s not entirely evil when he goes back to check on him and drives him to the Cohens’ house, where the police are waiting. Luke even cops to his part of the blame, and they both get cuffed as the credits roll. 

How many times did I have to drink? 


The social event of the week

It’s Summer’s birthday! Actually, as Seth hastens to correct Marissa, Summer’s birthday is Wednesday, but her party is this weekend. Poor sad Seth.

Seth and Ryan’s most bromantic moment

It’s either when they’re floating lazily catty-corner to one another in the pool, or when Seth tells Ryan he wants to run away with him and go on a pancake tour of North America. 

Most recognizable song of the episode

“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley – part of the Model Home Mix Marissa made for Ryan. 

Ryan’s toughest moment

He’s super tough this week! It could be the “rich kids” PUNCHline above, or when he’s doing pull-ups on the model home’s scaffolding, but I’m inclined to go with when he tells a threatening Luke: “Then kill me and quit talking about it.” 

Best Seth Cohen line

Marissa, not inaccurately, tells Seth that he thinks he’s better than everyone, and Seth replies, “If you’re talking about Luke, you’re right, because that guy shaves his chest.” 

Best Julie Cooper bitchery

Jimmy tries multiple times to confide in her about his troubles, but she refuses to hear him because he bores her, and also she’s very busy dealing with the fact that Caitlin’s pony China has alopecia. 

Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows say

Sandy: “The minute you were born I knew that I’d never take an easy breath again without knowing you were safe.”

We did it! We kicked off The O.C.! It feels GREAT, doesn’t it? I have a question for you, FYA readers: did you see the pilot when it first aired? Were you a fan right off the bat, or did you come to the party later? 

And Britt, I have a question for you, when you take over next week: fuck/marry/kill – Sandy Cohen, Seth Cohen, A Bagel.

Meet Britt here next Wednesday morning as she discusses “The Gamble” and “The Debut”! 

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.