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FOX (ended 2007)

Today marks the tenth—yes, tenth—anniversary of Fox's melodramatic teen soap The O.C.
I know, it's hard to believe it's been that long since Seth Cohen entered our lives, but it definitely has. And though the series floundered in its later seasons, the first season is still a crowning achievement of television.

In the decade since its premiere, many have tried to replicate The O.C.'s initial success—you get an A for effort, Gossip Girl—but doing so has proved rather hard. The O.C. burst on to the scene in the doldrums of August 2003, and was successful because it was the first show of its kind. Teen soaps were hardly new by any means—Dawson's Creek had ended only a few months earlier—but exploring the world of the rich through the eyes of an outsider from Chino, California served up a new spin on the genre. 

The O.C. was compelling drama, and not just because Ben McKenzie happened to look good rocking a tank top. The show changed the face of television—and popular culture—in a lot of ways. So in honor of this momentous occasion, we give you ten of the most important things The O.C. gave us during its four-season run.


10. An Alternate "Reality" for MTV

Soon after The O.C. premiered, MTV had the bright idea to explore the "real" version of Orange County, California. Enter Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, the "reality" show that followed the so-called true-to-life versions of the rich and privileged children of the area. The show became an instant hit among teenagers, and even birthed a spin-off by following Lauren Conrad to Los Angeles for The Hills.

 

9. Paul Wesley


Before he was Stefan Salvatore, and before he took the stage name Paul Wesley, he was Paul Wasilewski and he played Donnie, Ryan's new friend from Corona who shot Luke.  


8. Chrismukkah


You can't make a list of the wonderful things The O.C. contributed to this world without including the Seth Cohen-invented Chrismukkah holiday that meshed the magic of Christmas with the spirit of Hanukkah. 


7. TV Parents Who Matter

The O.C. wasn't like Beverly Hills, 90210, where the parents existed solely to provide an infrequent sounding board for their childrennor was it Dawson's Creek, where the parental storylines were important only as they affected the lives of Dawson, Joey, Pacey, and Jen. No, The O.C. popularized the concept that a youth-centric television series can be as much about the kids as it can be about the adult figures in their lives. Nearly every teen soap to come after The O.C. would try this same approach, but let's face it: No TV dad is as cool as Sandy Cohen was. No one.


6. 'Shipping


The idea of 'shipping characters has been around for a long, long time; it's just that there was never really a word for it until recently. But Seth and Summer definitely helped to usher in the more widespread 'shipping movement. Fans of The O.C. loved Seth and Summer—Sethummer—to the extent that they'd take to the internet to discuss the relationship, and they hated anyone who came between the two characters... a pretty big deal in the early aughts, when talking about TV on the internet wasn't nearly as common as it is today. Now, you can't Google the title of a teen drama without encountering fans vocally 'shipping various match-ups. Just be careful, because it's easy to get caught in the crossfire between warring fan factions, and we wouldn't have it any other way. (Fun fact: Yes, that is Wilson Bethel, Rachel Bilson's current Hart of Dixie co-starwith the long hair in the clip above.)


5. Meta Before It Was Cool

If you were to ask a bunch of current TV fan which show does meta the best, Community and Supernatural would likely earn multiple mentions. But before the Greendale Community College and the Winchesters hit the small screen, The O.C. featured The Valley, an on-screen parody of The O.C. itself. You see, The O.C. premiered right at the beginning of the social media craze, and therefore had firsthand access to the critiques and comments the show's fans made online. The writers and producers had no problem parodying their work for laughs, so The Valley became Summer's favorite TV show. And later, when Laguna Beach premiered, Josh Schwartz and Co. invented a reality version of The Valley called Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley.


4. More Drama = More Fun

Revenge is known for blowing through storylines like they're going out of style, but it was hardly the first series to run through a season's worth of story in about seven episodes. The O.C. was successful in its first season because it lived life in the fast lane in addition to amping up the drama to 11. Unfortunately, the show moved so quickly that it eventually ran out of stories to tell for Mischa Barton's Marissa Cooper (drugs, alcohol, sexual experimentation, kleptomania, parental issues, etc.) and was forced to take the drastic measure of killing her off because there was no place left for her to go. There was also that thing where she had become completely insufferable, too.


3. Revenge of the Nerds


I still don't necessarily buy that anyone ever looked at Adam Brody and found him unattractive or nerdy, but this is Hollywood we're talking about, so we'll just ignore that fact for now. Seth Cohen introduced the world to the good-looking, comic book-loving nerd who survived the hell of being rich, privileged, and white in Newport, California with his charming humor and biting wit. He was responsible for making The O.C. so quotable; if you need an example, watch this compilation of some of his greatest one-liners from Season 1.


2. The Modern Bromance


Sure, today's television landscape is littered with bromances, from Damon and Alaric on The Vampire Diaries to Shawn and Gus on Psych to Troy and Abed on Community, but Seth and Ryan's relationship was one of the first to really deserve the label—and it's still one of TV's best. The Ryan and Seth bromance blossomed because of—not in spite of—their opposite personalities. While Seth talked too much and too quickly, Ryan was quiet and pensive, making it possible for their relationship to exist. While Seth lived in his own world, Ryan lived in the real world. While Seth preferred indie music (more on that below), Ryan preferred Journey (before they were cool, again). They were best friends as well as brothers. 


1. A Damn Good Soundtrack


If you can name another show that influenced music—or rather, that was influenced by the music—in a way that is comparable to The O.C., then I'll eat my words, but there's no denying that the series' greatest impact on popular culture was the way it introduced the world to, and explored, indie music. From Death Cab For Cutie to Rooney to Imogen Heap, from Patrick Park to Joseph Arthur to Jem, The O.C. was as much about coming-of-age in Southern California as it was about the soundtrack to that life. The music was almost another character, it mattered that much to the story. 

(Related reading: Alexandra Patsavas, the music supervisor on The O.C.recently discussed the series' impact on the music industry, and it's worth a read.)


What are your favorite memories of The O.C.?

146 Comments
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Honestly guys.... THANKS FOR THIS ARTICLE!
I didn't know of this show until you guys posted this article. I'm currently in season 3 and apart from the silly storylines sometimes, I love the show!
Sethummer is amazing!
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I just finished my series rewatch. All the seasons are pretty much as I expected, except one...

Maybe its because I am older and a more experienced TV viewer but, I actually really enjoyed season 3. Was it perfect? No. But it was a hell of a lot better than I remember it being, and dare I say it was better than season 2.

Once I realized that Ryan and Marissa were a doomed and tragic love story from the start, season 3 made a lot of sense. The Johnny story line happened organically and the fallout because of it was true to the characters. Ryan and Marissa were never going to work and season 3 was a very natural way for both characters to come to this conclusion.

For anybody that felt the same way as I did about season 3, go back and watch it now. Maybe it won't be as bad as you remember it.
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I have to say, never has a show had me hooked in the first 30 seconds and kept my attention like this one. Even though I'm ashamed to admit it I absolutely loved this show.
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Your first 2 arguments are invalid:
Ryan and Seth did not define the modern BroMance, Joey and Chandler did.
Supernatural defines and is defined by its awesome soundtrack a thousandfold times better than OC ever did.

Anyway, I really liked OC, it was a guilty pleasure of mine
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The first thing I thought after watching the pilo: Wow, this is a "cool" 90210. I really liked the OC but after the 2nd season, it became one of these shows, it lost most its charm, but the music stayed cool.I will still remember this show fondly. I never liked or cared about OTH, stopped watching it after 10 episodes. It was a bad show right from the start.
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And if we're just talking great soundtrack - the list of shows I could give would take me about a dozen capacity long posts so I won't even try but because I want to tie my disagreement on another point I'll say Castle has a pretty great soundtrack and the single coolest TV dad in existence, and speaking of .. .Meta - How about the Nikki Heat series being actually published in real life and characters from the show actually being active on social media, how's that for meta. Yeah The O.C. was pretty good but some of the praise you're giving it here is either over the top or a few years too late - take your pick.
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Another show that was influenced by and influenced music - One Tree Hill.. specifically the first 4-6 seasons (I'm iffy about 5 and 6 but they are passable after that however that show was so bad it was dead to me).
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AH. well, couldn't argue about the whole insufferable barton comment... I think she was one of the reasons I stopped looking at it, and her going away, the main reasons I returned.
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The soundtrack was great, but it doesn't top Scrubs. Not even close.
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The OC was the first show that I was really invested in and loved. I would watch every episode at least twice and sometimes 3 or 4 times. Even watching the clips above, I was reciting the lines like I watched the episodes this morning (and I haven't watched the OC in probably 4 or 5 years).

Season 1 was probably one of the best seasons of TV I have ever seen. Specifically though, the pilot through to the Tijuana episode, might be the best consecutive string of TV episodes of all time.

While in the opinion of many people, the quality started to steadily decline after season 1, I think that season 2 is very underrated and had one of the best end of season cliffhangers to date. Season 4 was also very underrated and once TPTB knew it was the end of the series the last 4 or 5 episodes were fantastic. Then there is season 3, which had its moments, but for the most part was not so good.

Even though there have been shows since the OC which I like more, The OC will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was my first.

ps. This has got me all nostalgic. Now I think its time to dust off my DVDs and have a marathon.
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The O.C. was definitely one of a kind and marked an era concerning tv shows. And yes, there was nothing like it after. Maybe the one who got closer was One Tree Hill, I think, in terms of overall quality. Though I feel that the show was cancelled when it was having a nice momentum.

And Alexandra Patsavas is also the mastermind behind the excellent music choices in Grey's Anatomy.
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the wife and i loved this show (well we werent married when it started).
also loved a lot of the music
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supernatural has the best soundtrack though.
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It had great song and awsome first season,but that's all it had. Then it just went downhill and I stopped watching,did hear or saw few clips of what happened to rest of gang.
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nostalgia!
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I'm moving in with my friend pretty much solely because she owns all 4 seasons on dvd.

Also, I can't believe no one's mentioned "If the mail truck's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'"! I still use this as a euphemism.
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Aw I feel like I should re-watch The O.C. I feel so nostalgic about my teen years now =( Gossip Girl ain't got nothing on the O.C.

Music on the O.C. was amazing, but just the cast - phenomenal. I don't think any other foursome can compare to the friendship that existed between Seth, Ryan, Summer and Marissa. Awwwww so sad now. Gotta go watch some O.C.!

Also, Julie Cooper will always be the ultimate MILF.
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"If you can name another show that influenced music—or rather, that was influenced by the music—in a way that is comparable to The O.C., then I'll eat my words"

One Tree Hill was also very influenced by indie music and rock music in general. I love the O.C but actually when I think about a teen-drama about music I think of OTH in which music was even often part of the storylines and in which the soundtrack was one of the best heard on TV.

I do however think that using only cover bands for season 4 was one great choice in The O.C.
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Yep OTH...though it went to hell,when it lost Lucas and Peyton.
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That's where I stopped. I didn't watch the rest of it. To me it was a good ending.
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I watched first 2 episodes of season 7 and stopped. I did watch that episode,where Lucas returned,but it sucked as well.
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I thought season 2 was better than most people gave it credit for. People always say that the show tanked after season 1, but season 2 at least was quite good. And season 3 has Volchek! And season 4, bless it's heart, had Kevin Sorbo!

Sorbo: (adjective) Of middling quality. Just good enough to get by.
Season 4 of the O.C. was so Sorbo.
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Atomic County
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Oooooh fuck, going to rewatch all the OC!
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Favourite memories? Way too many...but Seth in his little boat at the end of the first season was fantastic...as dramatic and sad as it was. Also, when Ryan and Marissa's sister at the airport finding out Marissa was gone, underscored by Sia's Radiohead cover. Singlehandedly the best song choice for a scene EVER! And i don't even like emo indie music.
But that first season of The O.C. is still one of the best seasons of any show, EVER! Thinking about it, i actually miss it! But i bought the whole series on DVD so it'll always be there!
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I must say that One Tree Hill takes the spot of having damn great soundtracks.
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While I agree with most of the points I have to comment that One Tree Hill had an even bigger influence music wise. The OC was great with it, but you can't name it without mentioning One Tree Hill. Same with the parental story-lines. One Tree Hill and even Gilmore Girls did it aswell, maybe even more.
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Will always be one of my top favourites, the best thing this show did for the later seasons was getting rid of Merissa...
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The OC was my Family, i loved each and everyone of them, its by far, my number 1 show, only to be followed by One Tree Hill
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This list was awesome. Reminded me of everything I loved bout The OC. Seth was the original lovable Nerd, and that soundtrack was killer. I think it may be time for an OC-athon...
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The OC will always be one of the best shows on tv
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The first season of The O.C. is the best memory.
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Wow, for a 'teen drama' that only lasted four seasons, reading this certainly did remind me just how much it influenced popular-culture.

I really hated Sandy when the show was on, perhaps because I was a teenager, but watching it again years later I realised what a fun character he was. And you're totally right, if you think about current teen dramas today there is virtually none with a heavy focus of parent/ adult storylines, which is a shame, because The O.C. showed that they can be intertwined with those of the teenagers successfully.

Wow, I forgot how funny and sarcastic Seth was! Have to admit I laughed out loud at some of those lines. While I think the idea of 'The Nerd' was obviously around before The O.C. I think Seth was a part of the era that brought about the notion that nerdy characters can be fun, entertaining and cool, and not just in a way where the audience can laugh at how misfortune they are. I wish there was more characters like him on television nowadays.

While I think shipping was around before The O.C., I'll give you the bromance one too. Good to see that current television shows aren't afraid to have to male characters share a close bond today and not have audiences think its weird. And yeah, Ryan and Seth's, was a classic.

I still think it would have gone on much longer had it been on UPN or The WB (and then later The CW) instead on Fox.

And also, because she's one of my favourite characters of all time and you didn't mention her in the article I have to give Julie Cooper a shout out! One of the best things about The O.C.
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Loved the OC, and loved the music, although arguably the music on One Tree Hill also had a similar effect, even if the show itself wasn't as popular.
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i religiously watch it. no DVD's back then. no internet catch tv. JUST GOOD OLD RE-RUN AND ENCORE IF YOU MISSED IT
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Season 4 was actually a terrific season, right there qualitywise with season 1 (storylines where different and it hit comedic high points). Its a shame season 3 ruined the ratings and audience for a show that should have had some more time
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Wow! Ten years now, that's a surprise. The show was good times. They also influenced fashion. Ballet flats became popular because of it, I believe.
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YES!! Best line WAS "Welcome to the O.C. BITCH!" Great title Kaitlin!

When I was going down the list I was thinking to myself, "If she doesn't have the soundtrack as number 1, Im gonna FLIP!" So great job a proving your O.C fanness :)

I was in love with this show when it first aired and now own all the seasons(yes, I even love the later seasons) I got so many of friends addicted to this show lol

sooo.. i was extremely sad for Ryan when Marisa died.... but Taylor was a much better character! Any Taylor Townsend fans?

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Loved Taylor! She was one of my favourite parts of season 4! So funny!
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I've only seen a little bit of the show so I can't specifically comment on that, but I did want to mention One Tree Hill as far as music goes. Of course, I was beaten to the punch by several other people. Good to know others thought of it as well.
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This lame show is the reason Arrested Development was cancelled.
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Go watch the new season on Netflix to make up for it.
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Its great. Awesome I had to wait this long to see a new season of it... thanks to the OC.
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Really? More info please?
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www.google.com
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You're not wrong. You're just an A**Hole.
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My mom passed away during season 1. Losing her put me in a really bad depression and I hardly left my bedroom when I got home from work. I bought the box set for season 1 and started rewatching it, before I knew it I was pulling myself out of my funk. Watching the women in the show gave me strength I didn't know I had. I finally felt like a new person and someone my husband was proud of. I finally came out of my shell and discovered a new world outside of my normal everyday boundries and found a new exciting side with my marriage that my husband greatly appreciates.
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On music: Also see One Tree Hill. You can't talk about The OC being influential without talking about how equally influential OTH was, given their equal indie mixes.
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Agreed. I was going to mention One Tree Hill.
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Awww. That was a nice stroll down memory lane. I used to love The OC but somewhere after season 2 I just kind of stopped watching. I do recall loving the music at the time and I think Nada Surf's cover of If You Leave was what turned a young me onto new wave but in my opinion Bunheads had one of the best soundtracks in it's short life of any TV show ever. I mean They Might Be Giants AND Tom Waits in one show?!?! Awesome!
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I don't remember if I watched all of season two, but I only own the first season.
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I cried when Marissa died! And Imogen Heap's version of Hallelujah did not help. Tearing up now.
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Definitely the music. I watched it mostly because of the music. And I remember a Seth 'monologue' where he discusses if Bright Eyes could still be considered indie and cool now that it was famous. The O.C. also brought on the beginnings of the hipsters. Before it was cool.
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Yes! Seth was a total hipster before anyone knew what a hipster was. I love it!
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I've got plenty of good OC memories, but the one that stands out most often can be broken down with one word, "Ewww!". Simple and snarktastic.

That it was uttered by Rachel Bilson only makes it better.
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What are your favorite memories of The O.C.?

*blam !
Hmmmm, whatcha saaaaayy.....

Had no idea that it will become a giant meme
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I've only seen the first season. I'm well aware of that meme, so I find it frustrating to think, that when the time comes and I'm watching the end of season 2, that it will play and I'll burst out laughing during what's supposed to be a serious and emotional moment.
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lolololol young Wilson Bethel
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I loved The O.C. mostly cause Seth was so much fun (and hot it was really difficult to see him as a nerd...), also he had the coolest dad (loved Sandy and his awesome eyebrows) and he got the girl ... I know there was also Ryan... but he was so quiet so he wasn't the most exciting character BUT I admit I did liked his muscles (eye candy).
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How was it difficult to see Adam Brody as a nerd? He was still hot...
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just cause in my head I had the prejudice stereotype of nerd. he was funny as hell but not 100% nerd.
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Wow, after just watching those clips I just realised I find Seth to be remarkably similar to Stiles in TW, well I guess it is stiles that acts like Seth given Seth came first.
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You know who they both act like? Chandler Bing. I don't see it as much with Seth, but with Stiles, he's just so Chandler sometimes.
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I became instantly addicted wayyyy back in 2003, but then I became annoyingly high-brow about teen soaps for years until my college roommate rescued me from my pretensions with a dvd marathon. And HEY, don't diss all the later seasons! Season 4 is pretty damn amazing. I actually still haven't seen the last two or three episodes of the show because I don't want it to end :(

When I watch Southland I pretend it's an extension of The O.C. and around my house it's called Officer Ryan's Show.
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"I became annoyingly high-brow about teen soaps for years until my college roommate rescued me from my pretensions with a dvd marathon." Haha, this sounds very familiar. :)
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Definitely loved the show when it came out, had such a great soundtrack that got me introduced to a ton of bands I otherwise would've never heard about. The first 2 seasons were some of the best TV ever.

Hope Ben McKenzie picks up a new gig now that Southland is over.
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I heard he was cast in a new pilot, so hopefully it gets picked up. The deets are in one of Tim's old News Briefs from March or April, if you can be arsed to go back that far to look. Or you could just google it, I suppose. :)
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Unfortunately, The Advocates (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2392006/) wasn't picked up to series and also had no luck when it was shopped to other networks.
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While the show's theme song is one of my favorites (it somehow gives me that kind of end-of-summer, both happy and sad feeling), I think One Tree Hill got a better overall soundtrack.

But I still liked The OC more because of Seth's fun and witty character. OTH had too much emos for me to take.
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I didn't watch The OC, I had better taste than that.

*walks out or room with nose in the air*
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Don't let the door smack you on the way out...
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UGH! now that he's gone... DRINKS FOR EVERYONE!
O.C. PARTY TIME!!!!!!!!
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*slams the door as soon as you walk out*
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