Let's face it: being raised on The O.C. has made all of your real-life parties feel comparatively lackluster. There are no mansion ragers, no charity fashion shows, and certainly no New Year's Eves at the Four Seasons. Although, regarding the Season 1 episode "The Countdown," which marks The O.C.'s first significant foray into the year-ending holiday, you may be surprised. Among all the confetti and drama, The O.C.'s New Years episode actually does a great job of capturing the realities of the night.
With the end of 2003 came the end (or new beginning) of a lot of romantic story arcs, and that feels fitting for this year, too. New Year's Eve has us both trying to shed the relationship failures of the previous year and to move forward, to be better. The holiday is supposed to be a great time for romantic rebirth and revitalization, but it also often features romantic regression, romantic rebounding, and romantic resentment. This O.C. episode captures all of those angles, and, unlike New Year's Eve itself, doesn't let you down in terms of excitement.
You can (and should) definitely re-watch the episode on Hulu, or just revisit all the ways "The Countdown" captures the romantic realities of New Years Eve below.
1The Crushing Disappointment
The episode kicks off with Marissa telling Ryan she loves him, and Ryan responding with a dude-like, "Thank you." Bless. While I don't necessarily think the holiday is intrinsically tied to such confessions, it is characterized by high expectations and low-key let downs.
2The Last-Minute Plans Bursting Forth Courtesy Of "Some Guy"
Oliver invites Marissa over for a fancy shindig at the Four Seasons, and, while the setting seems patently fake (please, it's all basement apartments for me), it's decidedly real to get a last-minute invite from someone making moon eyes at you.
3The Time Convincing Your Anti-Social Boyfriend To Go To A Super Fun Party
A time honored tradition that really marks a relationship rift (or at least a relationship lull). Who hasn't tried to get their introvert boyfriend to come out by promising all the excitement of crudités?
4That Feeling When Your Bestie Ditches You For "Some Guy"
Yeah, Marissa waits approximately 30 seconds before she ditches the hella single Summer. I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of doing this; we've all been guilty of doing this. But more years than not, I end up getting Marissa-ed by my lady date.
5The "I'm Over Him" Resolution
Anna and Summer talk about how Seth Cohen is dead to them, which is, awww, adorable. But, as anyone who declared a guy as "so last year" knows, this is far from the end of that love triangle.
6The Absentee Date
Back to "Natalie," isn't it weird how Oliver talks her up and yet she doesn't show, leaving Oliver to serve up a myriad of vague reasons for her absence? Again, whether Natalie is real or not, this is aggressively suspect, and yet something we've all been forced to do at least once when we appear dateless at a shindig.
7The Experience Of Getting Way Too Close To "Some Guy" Because Your Actual Love Interest Is AWOL
It's not as though Marissa is necessarily throwing herself at Oliver. She knows he has a Natalie somewhere out there. (Actually, does he? Or is that a girlfriend-in-Canada sorta thing?) Regardless, Marissa feels abandoned, and, on Oliver's side, there are romantic undertones that definitely freaked out some Marissa/Ryan shippers in 2003.
8The Hook-Up Hunting
The sad thing is that the Anna/Summer friendship really blooms here and then crumbles because of some boy from Tulsa who was looking their way. Still, it honors the tradition of scoping out potential kiss partners for the evening.
I mean, I've never left pre-midnight, but I have left the party early because things got too depressing. Spoiler: It mostly ends with being in bed crying, not being in bed with an adorable boy.
10The Last Minute Save
The most memorable moment of the episode is when Ryan swoops in for that New Year's Eve kiss, and, while it's dramatized here, it also happens all the time. Maybe not always for such romantic reasons, but sometimes someone pops up at the last moment. One year, I ran into an old high school boyfriend on New Year's Eve, and, at 30 seconds before the ball dropped, I was so grateful he was there.
11The Crushing Disappointment (Part Two)
...and 30 seconds after the ball dropped I was so bummed that I was 22 and kissed an old high school boyfriend. Summer best summarizes the depressing reality of most midnight kisses. "You're not Seth Cohen," she says, which is the exact same depressed thought I have whenever I kiss anyone ever.
12The Relationship Gateway
The episode ends with Seth and Anna making out on Seth's bed (oooh, scandalous!) and, like that, they are a bonafide Thing. This rings incredibly real to me, especially when it comes to teenage lore: how many of your high school friends had a New Year's Eve anniversary, 'cause someone decided to follow their heart at midnight?
Happy holidays, O.C. fans.