Until recently, one of the greatest and most shameful injustices in our current era of Peak TV was that The O.C. — the best show in history about a wealthy California family adopting a punch-happy juvenile delinquent who secretly yearns to be an architect — was not available to stream from any legal outlet. Not Netflix, not Hulu, nothing. This, to be very clear, was madness, and it raised a number of troubling questions, perhaps most notably, “How can we truly consider ourselves to be a modern society if we can’t pull up the first Chrismukkah episode anytime we want without feeling like a criminal or watching a physical DVD like some sort of savage?”
Luckily, finally, a solution to this problem just arrived from an unlikely source. CW Seed, The CW’s streaming service, which you probably didn’t know existed until this very sentence, has stepped up and made all four seasons of the show available. And it gets better: CW Seed is not a subscription service. It’s free. It’s free. It’s almost as if the universe overcorrected itself as an apology for wronging us for so long.
And so, to commemorate this overdue and important moment, two of our resident O.C. scholars, Danger Guerrero and Josh Kurp, decided to re-watch the pilot episode some 12 years after it first premiered, open up a Google doc, and engage in a lengthy discussion about everything from Summer’s transformation from monster to sweetheart, ill-advised Pacific sailing trips, and Sandy Cohen somehow being both a terrific TV dad and a total lunatic. This was, and is, important and necessary.
Danger Guerrero: So, first of all, this pilot is perfect, yes? I mean, it was great at the time, but now, looking back with the knowledge of the whole show, most of the main characters were basically fully-formed from the get go, and a lot of the action for the next few seasons was right there to run with. I had forgotten just how much takes place in the first 45 minutes. It’s really something.
Josh Kurp: This was only the second time I’ve watched the pilot. The first was in 2004, right after season two premiered and a friend lent me his copy of season one on DVD because he said the show was so good. He wasn’t lying. Like you mentioned, the pilot is perfect, with the exception of Seth. He’s too much of a nebbish here, but that’s quickly corrected. Otherwise, great; even Marissa isn’t awful (yet). What’s something from the first episode that you don’t remember?
DG: I think what happened here was actually two related things: One, I think a lot of the parties from season one blended together for me, so the fact that the pilot had the fashion show and the thing where Ryan ordered a 7 and 7 from the bar and the beach party and Marissa being a drunken wreck and the revelation that Kirsten used to be a former mail-truck-dwelling hippie all in a span of about 20 minutes just caught me off guard. For some reason, my brain had spread that out over the first three or four episodes. It’s a very special television episode that gives us “Welcome to the O.C., bitch” and…
And I think the second thing was that I had forgotten how quickly they get to Jimmy Cooper’s financial troubles. (Big shoutout to The O.C. for pulling off the Ponzi scheme plot five years before the market tanked and made them all the rage, BTW.) Couple that with the parties blending together, and for a split second — a fleeting instance — I smushed the “All around the world, HEY GIRL” fashion show together with Cotillion and I was like “Wait… Jimmy doesn’t get punched in the pilot, does he?” Lotta punching in season one.