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« Reform Thursday: Week Eighteen. | WILLisms.com | Jacques Chirac, Fin. »

The O.C.

This one is for my little sister (hi, Carly):

With roughly 1/3 of a year remaining before the start of a new season of Fox's The O.C., some of the show's loyal fans, who also happen to be loyal WILLisms.com readers, are likely already developing delerium tremens just thinking about how long it'll be until their weekly addiction is satisfied.

The show, like so many television programs these days, has political undertones and overtones, archetypes and nuances, preachiness and vérité, weaved in and out. On the very first episode of the show, which aired on August 5, 2003, the show's otherwise quiet and brooding protagonist, Ryan Atwood (played by Benjamin McKenzie, who in real life spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention), explained why he wasn't all that concerned about his future:

Modern medicine is advancing to the point where the average human life span will be 100. But I read this article which said Social Security is supposed to run out by the year 2025, which means people are going to have to stay at their jobs until they're 80. So I don't want to commit to anything too soon.


Ryan Atwood, Social Security reform advocate, before it ever became a petty partisan political issue. After he uttered that line, I was hooked. A Republican-minded character on television! What's not to like about a tougher, buffer version of Alex P. Keaton, who also just happened to come from the wrong side of the tracks? This was too good to be true.

Alas, it was too good to be true; Ryan is now essentially apolitical, while the potential political intricacies found in the pilot have not materialized. However, unlike Law and Order's recent character assault on Tom DeLay, for example, the political dialogue is not too overbearing. It's even organic-- dare I say "fair and balanced"-- much of the time.

The Weekly Standard, of all publications, critiques the teenage drama, noting its realities, its omissions, and its politics:

The O.C. is a Hollywood fantasy about what life in the O.C. surely must be like--if anyone from Hollywood ever bothered to go there and find out....

Despite the county's tripartite socioeconomic division, nearly all its inhabitants vote the same way: Republican. There are a few blue islands here and there in the sea of red: Laguna Beach, a onetime starving-artists' colony that's now high-end boho, the University of California at Irvine, and the Hispanic neighborhoods of North Orange County (although in declining numbers, as we know from the last presidential election).

This is where the makers of The O.C. go awry, for they insist upon imposing on Orange County, whose riches are nearly all nouveau and entrepreneurial, the political template of Hollywood, where the elite is overwhelmingly on the left.

Indeed, in a recent episode, while Ryan and Seth were in Florida for Spring Break, Seth nearly gets beaten up by an angry mob of muscle-bound Christian college students from Bob Jones University-- an obvious, and caricatured, dig at red state America.

For fans of The O.C., the Standard article is a must-read. For everyone else, eye candy (the real reason anyone watches):

Mischa Barton (a.k.a. Marissa):

Rachel Bilson (a.k.a. Summer):

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 June 2005 01:22 PM


You really do look alot like Benjamin McKenzie! Only you are cuter...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 4, 2005 10:18 PM

Don't forget about the two main moms as eye candy!

Posted by: TK at June 4, 2005 11:24 PM