The OC has been one of my favorite shows since its inception in 2003. As a twelve-year-old, I became obsessed with the fictional lives of those who lived in Newport Beach. And since its end almost nine years ago, I have watched and rewatched every episode nearly every year. It’s a little tradition of mine that started in high school - when the summer begins, and I have time to dedicate to my TV, I start the DVDs I received for Christmas long ago. But every time I do this, no matter what, I hit a serious road bump in season 3, and it’s like work trying to get through the rest of 3 and all of season 4.
It’s a shame that it is that bad with The OC. This show was a sensation when it started, and one that we still talk about thirteen years after it first aired. So why do I hate these seasons so much? Easy - the plots of the episodes are garbage. It feels as if the writers are just messing with you during season 3, and ultimately gave up during season 4. Let’s take a look at the absolute worst of the worst.
17 Ryan And Sadie
Sadie seems like a nice enough girl when we first meet her after the death of Johnny, her cousin. But Ryan and Marissa, at this point, had been through so much. So you're telling me that he just gives up on that when Johnny dies? I call bullsh*t. He knows how Marissa cared for Johnny; Ryan also knows that she chose him in the end - so why would he just abandon her after Johnny dies?
I can’t imagine that Ryan, being the person that we saw for years, would just leave Marissa when she is going through something like this. And I don't think I would have been that mad about their relationship if they actually kept Sadie on the show. Instead, they break up before prom because the thought of going to Berkeley together is just too much for them. They could have easily kept her on if Marissa was out of the picture. I just think it's garbage. Like if they are going to give Ryan a serious girlfriend, that the Cohens’ really like, then keep her, or don’t give him that relationship at all.
16 Marissa And Volchok
This is one of my least favorite relationships of all time, in any show, ever. Why would Marissa start even talking to Volchok? He was CRAZY. They said that multiple times. I think I would have preferred her to hookup with Chili at this point, rather than this psychopath. And I get it, I do, she is going through some stuff. All teenagers go through phases, especially when someone they cared for passes away. But her dating Volchok is easily the worst idea I have ever seen.
Johnny and Volchok were enemies at the beginning of season 3. Marissa had to bribe Volchok just to stay away from Ryan because she heard he threw a sink on a kid who stole his wave. Like Marissa, what are you doing? I need answers for this because it is just ridiculous. I get dating a bad boy, but why would you choose someone who was not only a dick to your ex but the friend who you are mourning too? I will never understand this relationship, and I never want to.
15 Seth Not Getting Into College/Only Applying To Brown
Okay, who only applies to one school? And that one school is an Ivy League school which, by the way, only takes like one person from your high school. This is setting him up for failure. I don't even understand this thought process. I didn't know anyone who just applied to one school.
In reality, he would have applied other places, and he would have gone to college somewhere else, even if he was disappointed that he didn’t get into his dream school. It can't be Brown or bust; what parent allows that? How come no one said anything to him about only applying to one school? And I think I get why the writers kept him in Newport, so at least they would have someone still at home, but there’s no way this kid, who was easily the smartest of the group, wouldn’t go to college.
14 Sandy Taking Over The Newport Group
When we first meet Sandy Cohen in the pilot, we see him working as a public defender, taking in a wayward teenager, surfing, and being self-righteous. And we've seen him progress as a character, from the private sector, to troubles with Kristen, to helping Caleb - we see a lot of change from that first episode. But through all of that change, there is nothing that could make me believe he would want to be CEO of the Newport Group.
At first, I get it; Kirsten is in rehab, there is no one to take it over in the wake of Caleb's death. That to me makes sense. But as soon as Kirsten says she doesn't want to work there anymore, and that they should sell it, that to me is when Sandy should leave it behind. The fact that he holds on, and tries to be this mogul that he isn't, it changes him as a person. The whole thing is so unbelievable to me.
13 Senior Prom
Every teen drama needs a prom episode - it's a mandatory episode for such a genre. But the senior prom at Harbor is the WORST. Why is Taylor Townsend invited to take pictures at the Cohen house? Why would Marissa think bringing Volchok is a good idea? Why is Summer with a K-Pop superstar? And that's just the beginning of the hot mess that is the prom episode.
Summer gets drunk, which we haven't seen on the show since the first season; so this seems kind of out of the character. Volchok makes out with a random, which honestly is to be expected; as is his stealing the money from Taylor. Ryan beating the life out of Volchok after prom isn't all that surprising, but I kind of wish he didn't put him in the hospital. I get that Ryan is trying to be good, therefore not trying to fight anymore. And that's okay. But I feel like he tries to suppress this angry side of himself so much in season 3, that it just blows up when he fights Volchok until he almost kills him. Like dude, beat him up, but make sure he is breathing, ya know?
12 Marissa’s Spiral
Season 3 for Marissa is unlike anything we have ever seen on the show, and I feel as though that is saying a lot for a girl who overdosed in Tijuana in season 1. All season you can kind of feel this shift coming. First dealing with shooting Trey, then getting kicked out of Harbor, her dad leaving - all of this weighs on her. Until Johnny dies. Then everything begins to break down, and rightfully so.
Honestly, I think the spiral is justified, considering all that has happened, but I think what she does in the spiral and how she deals with everything is pretty pi*s poor. She's drinking, pretty much constantly, she's being a b*tch to Summer who is her only friend at this point, she's messing around with Volchok who is possibly her worst decision, and they show her doing cocaine. I know in season 1 we see drugs at the parties, but this is the first time we see one of the main characters doing hard drugs. Marissa is arguably one of the worst characters on the show, but during season 3 she is absolutely at her worst.
11 Marissa’s Death
I haven't been a fan of Marissa Cooper since, probably, as far back as season 1. She does make Ryan's life terrible. She is narcissistic. She is whiny. But she does shake things up. Life in The OC is never boring because of her. So, for me, it's not so much that she died. That sounds weird, let me explain. They easily could have written her off the show. It was all planned that she was going to live with Jimmy for a year on a boat. So why did they kill her? According to Josh Schwartz, the show's creator, it was a creative decision, to shake up the show in the fourth season.
He isn't wrong - it did shake things up; but the characters spent so much time mourning, and then it was all decided that everyone would be done with their grieving, and never talk about Marissa again. And their mourning was drastic too, not just being upset, but personality changes. The fallout of the death of Marissa might be my least favorite part of the whole scenario, but we'll get to all of those soon.
10 What Happened To College?
Before season 3 ended, everyone seemed to have a plan, and they were all going to go their separate ways. Summer was going to Brown. Ryan was going to Berkeley. Seth was, well Seth was going to hang out until the Spring. But still, they had plans. And then Marissa dies, and Ryan is still in Orange County. Taylor (who I am still mad comes into the main cast in season 4), was definitely supposed to go to some school at the end of season 3 - and yet there she is, not in school in the fall.
As if all of that wasn't bad enough, Summer gets kicked out of Brown, and then Seth decides that he'll wait even longer to go to school because she is home. I totally understand that the show is The OC, and takes place in Newport Beach, but like, why could no one go to college? This seems totally unrealistic to me. And I get some of them not being in school, but not everyone.
9 Taylor And Ryan
It isn't that I loved Marissa, and am mad about Taylor and Ryan because I was all for team Marissa. I do however think the chemistry that Ryan and Marissa had was undeniable; they always seemed inevitable to me. She had times when she was god awful, but for some reason, I always wanted them together, or at least for Ryan to be with someone who deserved him. Enter Taylor.
In the previous season, Taylor and Ryan hardly even talked to one another. Their personalities are completely incompatible; he is the brooding boy who was dealt a bad hand, but with a heart of gold, and she is just an annoying perfectionist who loves too easily. I think what I'm maddest about during this is that Ryan is dating during this season. I'm just saying, he goes from working at a bar, and being in a fight club, to dating perfect little Taylor Townsend? Again, this is completely out of character. I know that he always is in a relationship, but I highly doubt that he would jump into another serious thing after the only girl he really, truly loved, died.
8 Summer Becoming A Hippie
At first, I buy into this. I get staying busy while mourning. Why would you want to be stagnant, when all you would do is deal with your feelings, and thinking of memories? But what I don't get is Summer staying like this. The episode where she sees the therapist and goes through her stages of grief really shows just why she has changed so much. But after that, we don’t see her going back to normal. We see her try and then continue with her hippie ways.
This is totally out of character from everything we have known about her in the past three seasons. I get that college changes you - but not that much. I feel like they could have changed her in a smaller way, one that could have seemed huge to Seth, but microscopic to her. The change she makes is huge, life-changing even, and a total 180 to the person she was just a couple months ago. I just think this huge jump is unrealistic, and not a type of jump that even makes that much sense.
7 Seth Proposing To Summer
I am not into this one at all. I get the drama in a pregnancy scare, I mean, who doesn't? That is terrifying. However, Seth proposing seemed pretty old school for me. I didn't want them getting married just because they had a kid together. That sounds bad, but they were 18, and it was 2007. Of course, I wanted them to get married - one day. It all just felt kind of rushed to me. And the way that he did it, ugh.
I will be the first to say, I am absolutely a snob when it comes to proposals; I love creative proposals that involve elaborate plans. And then we have the fact that neither want to be engaged, and play chicken with it for so long. It’s just ridiculous. This, to me, is another one of those things the writers just threw in during season 4 that doesn’t fit well at all.
6 The Bullit
I hate everything about The Bullit. He is easily one of the most annoying characters on any show ever. He is loud, he is obnoxious, he thinks he can buy his way to what he wants, and he just doesn't know when to shut his stupid mouth. He spends a lot of his time on the show offending people.
Yes, there are moments when he is genuinely sweet to Julie. But for god's sake, they are completely incompatible. Had Julie and Bullit been a thing sooner, before her character really developed and we got to see a real and human side of her, I would have been fine - she was just in it for the money. But that wasn't who she was by season 4. I think they added him for some more humor to the show, but to be honest, they had a really good thing going with Seth and Sandy, so why try and fix something that isn’t broken?
5 Kaitlin Cooper And Chris Brown
To be honest I forget what Chris Brown's character's name was because he was only on the show for a short time. But who thought it was a good idea to have Chris Brown play the band geek? Seriously, I need to know the name of the genius that thought this was believable. What's happening with his lisp too? Kaitlin is the worst (even more unbearable than Marissa); she doesn't deserve someone who is caring, and just like a good guy. Was he a little boring? Yes. But he was still a sweet guy. And Kaitlin just wanted to smoke weed and ruin lives, so who thought that would be a good match-up?
I feel like this was an attempt to put the focus on Harbor, and a younger generation; an attempt that totally fell flat. I think the writers knew that this show wouldn’t work with the main cast going to college; the whole point of the show being about the characters in Newport Beach, and when they leave, the show loses something. I think they were trying to keep the show in The OC, but I also believe that they should have worked harder for this transition, not just throwing us a successful pop star as a band geek.
4 Ryan’s Dad
I'm not mad that Ryan's dad made an appearance on the show. We see the rest of his messed up family, so why wouldn't we meet the elusive Frank Atwood? It makes sense. What I hate about the Frank plotline is that he isn't what we were expecting at all. He is charming. He seems like a white collar criminal, rather than the man we had heard about in the previous seasons. And yeah, a man who has spent so much time in prison can totally change their lives, and finally turn it around - but it all just seems too easy for Frank.
In the first three seasons, he is totally elusive, completely out of the picture in Ryan's life - all we know is that he is in jail and has been for a while. When we meet him in season 4, he is well put together and seems like he has it all together, rather than trying hard to keep it together like everyone else in Ryan's family. I need him to be a bit shakier in order for me to buy into this.
3 Frank Atwood And Julie Cooper
I totally get their connection because they come from similar backgrounds. But Julie has been this Newport Beach socialite for a long time, rather than the life she left behind years ago. And yes, over the seasons we have really seen Julie come into her own, rather than just the gold-digging woman we saw in season 1. So I don’t think it is too farfetched to see her fall for someone who doesn’t have a huge fortune. And I know that Ryan and Julie have come a long way since their rivalry in season 1, but it is very hard for me to believe that he is just suddenly A-Okay with her boning his dad - even trying to get them together.
I think it would take him a while to be okay with this adjustment. Julie and Frank meet like two times before they are together, again, totally unrealistic. It all just feels very inauthentic to me.
2 Kirsten Getting Pregnant
You're telling me that Kirsten finds out she is pregnant on her fortieth birthday? I'm not saying that can't happen, I'm just saying it's ridiculous. Are Sandy and Kirsten really that unreliable with birth control after all these years? I doubt it. And if they wanted more children after Seth, don’t you think they would have tried when they were younger? It seemed like it was just thrown in here to try and create more drama.
I wonder if the writers were sitting around one day, and were like, "You know who hasn't had anything shocking happen to them in a while? Sandy and Kirsten. Let's give them a baby in their forties, that's a good idea." It always seemed to me like this was just thrown in, as if the writers weren't even trying by this point in the season, like they knew they weren't coming back for a fifth season.
1 Julie Getting Pregnant
Did they do this just because Kirsten was pregnant? So they could both have babies together? Again, this seems like they didn't even care, just adding new twists and turns to try and confuse the audience, rather than plotting well thought out and believable story-lines. Yes, adding a pregnancy automatically adds more drama, but when you're in your forties it really isn't like they are going to give it up for adoption or have an abortion.
Really, the only drama was about how they were going to be parents at an older age than when they had their first children. And yes, there is the question of is it Bullit’s or Frank’s? Yeah, I guess that’s drama, but it isn’t well thought out. I feel like they could have easily had drama with the adult love triangle that didn’t involve pregnancy. Honestly, I hate this pregnancy more than Kirsten’s just because it seems even less necessary - if that's even possible.