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February 24, 2005


Spelling Lessons for The O.C.

Earlier, we briefly discussed our lack of posts on the second season of The O.C. Frankly, as a once-guilty pleasure becomes - well, no longer even a pleasure, there hasn't been much for us to say. But last Thursday's episode, which had the nerve to feature an extravagant party without a single fist-fight, was clearly a cry for help. It is time for us to step in and get this show back on track.

Since I've been watching a lot of Melrose Place lately, inarguably the best television show in the history of time, I've found myself wondering how a show that rode that perfect Melrose/90210 divide for 27 glorious episodes could go so terribly, terribly wrong.

I think the issue goes back to network television's inevitable reaction to success. Producers and writers have no idea why viewers watch their shows. Beloved shows, and characters, often catch on by accident, and when writers try to emphasize or recreate that spark they just end up throwing subtlety to the wind and shoving your face in what they assume you want. So now, rather than a charmingly geeky Seth Cohen, we are faced with a shrill, mumbly, paranoic stalker who's not even fun to watch. Even more disappointing is the producers' disingenuous insistence that Marissa's sweeps-timed girl-on-girl action is not a stunt(as even the NYT points out, February has been National Women-Kissing-Women-on-TV Month for some time). Listen to me, producers: wearing each other's tiny t-shirts and exchanging kisses on the cheek does not a lesbian relationship make. (ps - also, wearing eyeliner and reading "Please Kill Me" does not a punk make.)

What it all comes down to, O.C. staff, is that your show is a drag. I don't watch television so I can see actors moping, or playing video games, or eating dinner, or actually watching television themselves. That is bullshit. You can't have it both ways. You are either a prime-time soap, or you are a teen drama. And considering your audience is primarily in the 20-30 age range, I think the choice is clear. So, drawing on my advanced degree in Aaron Spelling studies, I offer the following advice to save The O.C.:

1) First, and most importantly, eliminate all "serious" or "sentimental" plot lines and go full-on Melrose. Unrequited puppy love? Boring. Forgetting your anniversary? Boring. Studying for the physics exam? Oh my God, am I still even awake? Go back to the glory days of overdosing on prescription meds and passing out in a Tijuana alley already.

2) Eliminate every adolescent character on the show.

Or, if that's not feasible due to contract issues:

3) Tell them to speak up and take the goddamm marbles out of their mouths. So far this season, I've heard approximately a quarter of the dialogue. And what's the best way to change that? 175% more fights! It's hard to mumble when you're calling someone a money-hungry whore and pushing them into a pool!

4) Death to the "teen" story lines. Good kids who do well in school and love their parents? Ugh. How much better would it be if Lindsay's sweet exterior hid a conniving, gold-digging bitch who's only after Caleb's money? What if Summer was secretly running a private-school prostitution ring? What if Seth died in a fiery car crash and was replaced by his evil, non-mumbly cousin? Or what if everyone just thought he was dead, but then he showed up and pretended to be fine, but had really gone totally mental and made collages on his bedroom wall of all the other characters with their eyes all scratched out and heads cut off and "DIE" scrawled over them, and then had sex with Jack Wagner, and ended up blowing up the whole apartment complex?! Or - you know, something like that. You get the idea, anyway.

5) 85% fewer shirts on Benjamin Mackenzie.

6) 400% more scheming, particularly on the adult side. Kirsten is a tough-as-nails businesswoman, so let's see more of that scrappy conniving - particularly when Julie Cooper's sister, played by Heather Locklear, comes to town to take control of the Newport Group!

7) 130% more intoxication, on everyone's part. Always a recipe for fun - and disaster! (see #3)

Take my advice, O.C. Your show could be wonderful again - just give it a chance. And a few more cocktails thrown in people's faces. Please.

categories: TV
posted by Emily at 11:37 AM | #

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