When it comes to teen dramas, let’s be honest. Nothing that is currently on TV can even come close to the glory days of “The OC.” There were so many reasons to love this show – the soundtrack, the pop-culture laden dialogue, and, of course, Seth Cohen. “The OC” also offered extensive character development of the adult characters – something that many teen-driven shows neglect.
But the heart and soul of “The OC” was more than its soundtrack and script-writing – it was comprised of love. Family love, platonic love, romantic love – all of these emotions were woven throughout every episode and sub-plot.
We watched “The OC” because it made us laugh, and it made us cry. But most importantly, it made us think about our own relationships – with our friends, our significant others, and with our parents.
Here are 8 important lessons to be learned from this gem of a show. California, here we come.
1. Trust can be rebuilt.
Throughout the first half of the series, Sandy and Kirsten Cohen seem to be the ideal couple. They are nauseatingly cute with their breakfast routines (OJ, cereal, and bagels) and it’s clear that they know how to keep the romance alive.
That is, until the second half of the series where both Sandy and Kirsten get involved in some shady behavior. (Carter and Rebecca, I’m looking at you.)
While neither Sandy nor Kirsten engage in an all-out physical affair, both of them are guilty of emotionally cheating – which one might argue is worse. Some couples may not be able to bounce back after trust is broken, but Sandy and Kirsten are able to use the foundation of their marriage as a springboard for a second chance.
We tend to view cheating as the ultimate betrayal in a relationship – the point of no return. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes, there is a way back.
2. Geeky boys make great boyfriends.
Oh, Seth Cohen. Generation Y’s version of Prince Charming. This fictional character has literally ruined hundreds of lives by raising the expectations of girls everywhere and simultaneously setting the bar very high for our actual boyfriends.
However, if you take off the rose-colored glasses, it’s important to note that Cohen was not entirely flawless. Remember the time he sailed away, leaving Summer alone?
Regardless, the hotness of Cohen paved the way for all those other nerdy and quirky dudes to come forward and shine as the real-life version. Comic books? Plastic horses? Video games? Yeah, we’re into it. And you can thank Adam Brody for that.
3. Being in love sometimes means taking a step back to let the other person grow.
Perhaps one of the most swoon-worthy moments of the entire series occurred in the final episode. Summer has the opportunity to tour the country with an activist group, but would have to leave Seth behind. Seth, in turn, urges her to go, with a smile and the parting words: “Go save the world, Summer Roberts.” (Cue sobs from women around the world.)
It takes a strong person who is secure in his relationship to encourage a significant other to pursue a passion that would physically separate them as much as Seth and Summer were separated.
Ultimately though, it’s important to support the interests of the person you love – and sometimes that support is in direct conflict with what would make you the happiest. When someone is truly able to put their partner’s feelings above their own – now that is love.
4. Witty banter is the highest form of flirtation.
There is nothing sexier than someone who knows how to flirt using his or her brain. Somewhere between teasing and debating – therein lies the art of the witty banter. It’s playful, it’s fun, and it keeps you on your toes.
Of course, Seth and Summer were the king and queen of banter, but Ryan and Marissa weren’t too shabby at it either. I mean, who could forget the “Who are you?” / “Whoever you want me to be” exchange that occurred when they first met?
When someone can make your pulse race and challenge your brain at the same time – it’s a surefire recipe to get the sparks flying.
5. Sometimes you have to shout your emotions from the rooftops. Or the coffee cart.
There are moments in a relationship that call for grand gestures. It’s when you need to pull out all the stops, lay all your cards on the table, and bring out the big guns. One of the most memorable scenes in the series is Season One’s infamous coffee cart scene, where Seth professes his love to Summer atop the school’s coffee cart.
It would be hard to talk about the coffee cart without mentioning Summer’s recreation of the Spider-Man kiss later in the series, which can be considered her version of the coffee cart declaration.
Both scenes show us the importance of love – reminders of love, rekindling of love, and declarations of love. Sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you need comic book characters. Or coffee.
6. It is possible to love more than once, but never in identical ways.
There’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote that goes, “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” The characters in “The OC” epitomize this idea throughout the series.
Seth and Summer find new relationships in Anna and Zach, respectively, and while it’s clear they care about them, there continues to be something missing.
After Marissa’s death, Ryan is reluctant to let anyone into his heart, but finds himself eventually falling for Taylor. Humans are capable of loving multiple people, but no two loves are the same. Just when we think our hearts have reached capacity, we find more room. There’s always more room.
7. You can’t control the family you are born into.
So many characters on this show have been dealt a crappy hand in the family department. Ryan’s dysfunctional family is the catalyst for the entire series – the only reason he is taken in by the Cohens to begin with is because he didn’t have a family to go home to. And let’s not even get into the whole Trey thing (although – sidebar – Trey was kinda hot, wasn’t he?)
Marissa Cooper is continually let down by both of her parents. Despite being a loving father, Jimmy Cooper engages in criminal activity in the first season, stealing money from his clients, unbeknownst to his family. Marissa’s mother, Julie, is no saint either (remember when she hooks up with Marissa’s ex-boyfriend Luke?)
However, both Marissa and Ryan demonstrate loyalty to their families even at the lowest moments. Like it or not, you can’t control the makeup of your family tree.
8. But ultimately, your friends are the family you choose.
The word “family” is much more about the emotions associated with it than blood relations. “The OC” shows, time and again, that sometimes the bonds between friends can be stronger than bonds made by shared DNA.
After being taken in by the Cohens, Ryan isn’t sure that he will ever truly fit into the Newport lifestyle. His history has taught him to believe that love isn’t real, that parents give up on their children, and that he isn’t worthy of love. He ultimately learns the opposite to be true. Though not by birth, Ryan and Seth aren’t anything less than brothers.
Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have amazing family members, but we end up being the luckiest people in the world if we find the friends who become the family we’ve always dreamed of.