Praised for being both hyper-aware and yet reliably not taking itself too seriously as a whole, The O.C. illuminated our television screens for four magnificent seasons from the early to mid-2000's. And while it wasn't known for its realism, it would be hard to admit that you can't appreciate The O.C., even if it's for no other reason than the show being one of the seminal teen dramas of its time. Because, honestly, if you were a teenager then, what wasn't to like? The drama! The heartbreak! The glamour! The romance! The friendships!
Through the rise and fall of Marissa Cooper, Ryan Atwood, Seth Cohen, and Summer Roberts, one thing remained consistent: Even in moments of total chaos or abrupt sadness, the gang (mostly Seth, but you never really knew...) was always good for a laugh. After all, jokes from The O.C. still withstand the test of time (try watching it not and not laughing...) and its characters, likewise, are still shining beacons of teenage Californians on the silver screen. To contend with some of the more outlandish aspects of its plot, The O.C., like so many shows before it, employed a technique known as Lampshade Hanging (or simply "Lampshading"), the tongue-in-cheek method of calling attention to a show's flaws on purpose to dispel the possibility of critics otherwise pointing them out. Here are the 17 best in-jokes from the show that you might've missed the first time around.
1. When Seth Asks, “How Much Vomit? Like The Girl In The Sixth Sense Or The Guy In Monty Python?”
The line is a subtle nod to Mischa Barton/Marissa Cooper's role as the scary little girl ghost in The Sixth Sense. Little girl ghosts are the worst.
2. When Ryan's Co-Worker Says Of Luke, "Let Me Tell You Something: That Abercrombie & Fitch, Water Polo-Playing B*tch Wouldn't Last Two Minutes In Corona."
Prior to his work on the show, Chris Carmack, who played Luke Ward, was best known for being an Abercrombie model.
3. When Kirsten Says To Seth About Sandy, "Oh, Someone, Please Stop Him Before He Starts Singing 'Greased Lightning,'" And Seth Responds, "Do It, Dad. Travolta's Your B*tch."
In fact, one of Peter Gallagher/Sandy Cohen's first acting gigs was playing Danny in the original Broadway cast of Grease .
4. When Seth Warns, "I'm Not Reading That, That's Like The Ring. I Don't Wanna Die."
The line pokes fun at Adam Brody/Seth Cohen's appearance in 2002's The Ring .
5. When Kaitlin's Roommate Says, "Dad! I Told You To Stay Away From The Message Board!"
As Josh Schwartz, the series' creator and executive producer, admitted to The A.V. Club in 2008,
"I used to spend an unhealthy amount of time during the O.C. era on message boards. Which is sort of the most direct way to get feedback. And you know, you can worry about it too much, you could over-correct, you can start writing for the message board instead of what's necessary for the show. But that being said, audience reaction, fan reaction, is critically important, because that's who you're doing the show for. So I always like to try to stay connected to that to a degree."
6. When Seth Tells Summer Not To Insult Death Cab For Cutie And She Responds, "It's Like One Guitar And A Whole Lot Of Complaining."
Death Cab For Cutie got as many mentions as it did because Adam Brody and his friends were huge fans of the band. They even made a cameo on the show itself.
7. When Summer Comments That The Fictitious Teen Show The Valley, "Just Got Picked Up For Five More Seasons. You Know, These Teen Dramas, They Just Run Forever."
Well played, The O.C. Well played.
8. When Seth Saves Ryan's Life By Donating Blood In Season 4, And He Tells Him, "If We Could've Turned This Into A Body Swap Comedy, We Could've Squeezed Another Year Or Two Out Of This."
Considering Season 4 was the show's last season, this is actually a great joke. And also still too soon. Come back to me, show!
9. When Taylor Meets Summer In The Last Episode And A Man Appears With A Sign Reading “Schwartz.”
This is another obvious reference to the show's creator. (Josh Schwartz is one sly dog.)
10. When Seth Tells Ryan Their Year Hasn't Been As Good As The First, And Ryan Defends It, Saying That They Can't Just Repeat The Last Year
Way to hit your critics where it hurts, Josh Schwartz.
11. When Marissa Tells Ryan, "I don't know... Russell Crowe, He Just Doesn't Do Anything For Me. People Say He's Good-Looking, But I Don't See It."
This is definitely a reference to Ryan actor Ben McKenzie's unmistakable resemblance to none other than Crowe.
12. When Seth Is Watching The Reality Show, Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley
The show repeatedly called attention to the show's resemblance to Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County (which premiered in 2004 following the success of The O.C.) through the fictionalized reality show within a show, Sherman Oaks. Woah. Meta.
13. Renee Wheeler's Name Is Close To Josh Schwartz's Heart
Her surname, that is. Schwartz attended the Wheeler School in Rhode Island (according to the school's site, he was class of '94), so it seems like hardly a coincidence that the character Renee's last name was Wheeler as well.
14. When Seth Says, "I Heard Some Really, Really Awful Music. And I Knew It Could Only Be Self-Indulgent Actors With Instruments."
Adam Brody, in real life, occasionally plays drums in a band of his own called Big Japan.
15. When Summer Goes To Prom With A Korean Pop Star Who's In A Band Called Big Korea
Brody's aforementioned real-life band is called Big Japan. Subtle.
16. When Summer And An Actor Are Caught Kissing By The Actor's Co-star/Girlfriend, And Summer Says, "Wait. You Two Are Dating? Oh God! Don’t You Think That's A Bad Idea? I Mean, What If Things Don’t Work Out And You Guys Break Up? I Mean, Isn't That Bad For The Show?"
Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson dated for almost the entirety of the show.
17. When Ryan Comments On The Fact That An Actor On The Show He's Watching Is Too Old To Play A High School Student.
Colin Hanks, the actor Ryan was referring to, was only a year older than McKenzie, who (obviously) also played a high school student.
Time for a rewatch! With Hulu's recent announcement that it will be streaming the entire show, what are you waiting for?
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