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Friday, January 20, 2006

Rant of the Day: The O.C.

My DVR ate last night's OC, but I did get to watch last week's "Free Marissa" episode, and it's lit the fires of rage within me. The show has never been the same since the first season, but The OC has become such a crapfest each week, that I don't know how much longer I can take it. Maybe I shouldn't say The OC is a crapfest. I should instead say "The Marissa & Johnny Show," this strange program that now airs in The OC's timeslot, is a crapfest.

The strength of the show has always been in the Seth/Ryan/Cohen Family story, and they have completely obliterated that this season. Once Kirsten Cohen's "boozer recovery and subsequent almost fleecing by that chick from one of the Star Trek spinoffs" storyline was finished, she pretty much dropped off the show. Sandy Cohen has been relegated to fatherly advice subplots involving that twenty-something go-getter he hired who likes a good lapdance every night. Seth is only in scenes with Summer, which is okay because I like Summer, but he never hangs out with Ryan alone anymore, so the brother thing has been lost.

Even more peripheral characters have been getting the shortshrift. The glorious Julie Cooper has been reduced to subpar "My Name is Earl" trailer park shenanigans. Summer is only brought in with Seth for comic relief. Her war with Taylor Townshend has been amusing, but that's mainly because it has introduced a funny, complex character in Taylor. Summer used to have her own thing going on, and she wasn't reduced to mere commentary. Even Jimmy Cooper has been shipped off (again) to Hawaii.

Why have these characters been wasted and abused and pushed to the margins of the screen? Marissa and effin' Johnny. First I will take on Marissa. I have never liked Marissa. First off, Mischa Barton is probably the worst actress in television. Worse than the entire cast of 7th Heaven and their "plucked from the supermarket checkout by a producer buying Cheetos" guest stars. More horrible than the worst model turned actress you can name off the top of your head. Less expressive than a 2x4, and just as narrow. It says a lot when your best work was in The Sixth Sense, a film where your only job was to vomit all over Haley Joel Osment. She is atrocious.

Second, the character of Marissa is probably one of the best examples of adoration without reason on the air. The way everyone supposedly "loves" her was at its most apparent in last night's poor attempt to honor 90210's "Donna Martin Graduates West Beverly" episode. No one seems to really like her, they just talk about how much they do. It's like the writers are trying to hammer it into our heads that she's the smartest, most popular, awesome, hilarious yet sexy, sensitive, IT girl on the face of the earth and we should all bow down to show respect. You have three or four instances in this episode where people actually said "everyone loves Marissa." Meanwhile, she's a spoiled, tempestuous girl who routinely craps on the efforts of all those people who "love" her, acts like a moron, and does not seem to care how her actions make people feel. Particularly when fawning over whoever her charity case of the moment is, to the detriment of her loved ones. She has done nothing to deserve ANYONE'S love, let alone the people who watch this show hoping for any of the other characters to have a storyline that does not center on her boneheaded adventures.

The Marissa treatment reminds me of two of the most annoying "beloved" characters on TV. Carrie on Sex and the City was routinely held up as the coolest and smartest and sweetest and on and on till the cows came home. When you really look at her though, she's remarkably selfish, judgemental, and often uncaring towards her friends. And let's not even talk about the pun-happy voiceovers. Joey Potter on Dawson's Creek also got this saintly treatment in the latter seasons of that show. I guess her only redeeming quality was that writers bothered to show us likable qualities in the first few seasons, so it was easier to look past the Joey glamorization later on.

There's more than one person to blame for this mess. I now have to pick on Marissa's co-conspirator, the washed-up dirty girly-looking surfer named Johnny. When he was first introduced as part of the Bizarro Fab Four of whatever the name of their bogus public school is, I saw trouble coming down the pike. He has singlehandedly ruined the past five episodes. The Chrismukkah episode shouldn't be about raising money for this moron and his subsequent great idea to knock over a minimart instead of taking charity from rich folk to pay for a knee surgery. It should be about the Cohens and their traditions.

I don't care about him or his goddamned knee or his failed surfing career. You're 17, idiot, your life isn't over yet. Graduate from high school or something. You're not a racehorse, so they won't put you down if you can't fake surf anymore (if only). I don't care about his "unrequited" love for Marissa, who really only cares for you if you're a wounded puppy (gender is irrelevant too) but doesn't mean it sexually. I don't care about his friend named after an ice cream treat/Wendy's fry substitution option. I don't care how he feels about anything. I don't care that his girlfriend cheated on him pre-emptively because he was paying too much attention to Marissa. I don't want to have to watch my favorite characters reduced to commenting about his goddamned knee injury and Marissa being all over him. In summation: I think his girlfriend should have been driving that car and just should have properly mowed him down over five episodes ago so we would be free of this drain on the show.

I understand that his existence is directly attributable to the need to push everyone's favorite bony coke-head to the center of the show, but never before has one of her lost puppy boys been so horrifying. Not Trey. And not even Oliver, though it makes me a little queasy to be typing that and meaning that.

These two have hijacked the show. I watch for the actual full-time cast, not this terrible re-imagining. Ryan, not Johnny. Seth and Ryan, not Johnny and "Chili." Anyone else in the show's universe, not Marissa. Hopefully Ryan will soon get his Chino back on, beat the crap out of Johnny, dump Marissa for caring so little about him and his feelings, and get to have more than a passing conversation with Seth and Summer that has to do with something other than Marissa. Is that too much too ask? If so, it won't be my concern anymore, and this show will lose another loyal viewer who spread the word far and wide about how great it was when it premiered.


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