If you're looking for that most seasonally specific of recommendations, namely, which The O.C. episode is the best to watch in spring, then the Season 2 Episode 21 "The Return of the Nana" is what you're looking for. Most of that is to do with the fact that Ryan and Seth are dragged out to Miami with Sandy to go visit Nana Cohen, who's all-too-suddenly considering getting married to a man her son has never heard of before. But given that the episode is set in a specific time and a specific place, the two friends, despite all their efforts, can't help but get sucked into the festivities associated with this time of year. This matters, because neither Ryan nor Seth are the Spring Break types.
Ever since Ryan was uprooted to Newport Beach, the Chino native has been trying to stay out of trouble. And he's street-smart enough to know that even something as innocuous as a music video channel's dance-off will come with trouble. Similarly, Seth, the show's premiere Bright Eyes fan, is just trying to keep his head down following an argument with Summer. He naively assumes Miami will be the perfect solution. After all, he loves hanging out with his grandma's friends and living that retirement life.
A little shuffleboard, a little grouching about his stomach problems, this is Seth's idea of a real vacation. So, it's unbelievably fun to get that fish-out-of-water storyline of watching the pair get dragged into having the most cliched of all Spring Break experiences, despite their attempts to avoid that side of Miami. If you've checked this O.C. episode out before, you'll know that, eventually, Seth finds himself licking whipped cream off a blonde in a bikini and taking a cherry out of her mouth on live TV.
Which isn't just perfect because it's representative of a crazy experience of spring break, but because it's metaphorically on-the-money for the season in question. After all, spring is all about that certain something in the air, that softness, that warmth, that triggers a desire for transformation. It's no coincidence that you turn your whole apartment upside down every April for a spring cleaning session. And Seth isn't the only one to act like the complete opposite of himself. We see this risky desire for complete transformation playing out in all of the different characters.
The episode is powerful on the topic of the year's freshest season in how it warns about the dangers of spring spontaneity. We learn that the fiancée Sophie Cohen is rushing to marry is after her million dollar property, not her love; we get Kirsten indulging in a drunken kiss with a colleague while her husband is out of town; and we get Summer trying to get her indie rock poser boyfriend out of her system via kissing someone who she doesn't have the same feelings for as she does for Seth. And Seth's spontaneous whipped cream incident, which he agrees to at the last moment to help a young woman afford college, ends up with him and Ryan getting beaten up.
Barring the disturbing incident with Marissa and Ryan's older brother, all this irrational making out on the show? Technically, totally reflective of the spring phenomenon that dominates the season. So, if you're in the mood for a cautionary tale about puckering up with someone you wouldn't usually consider just because it's sunny, consider scheduling a The O.C. re-watch session. You could learn a lot.