During the first episode of The O.C., the lives of the Cohen and Cooper families are shaken up when Ryan Atwood arrives in town and starts punching things. But Ryan isn't the only Newport new addition that year, and he definitely isn't the only one who drastically changes the trajectories of people's lives. When Anna Stern pops up on The O.C. during Season 1, Episode 4, she challenges pretty much everyone — by just by being herself, no matter what.
For that reason, Anna is actually pretty cool. She teaches Seth to stand up for himself. She bonds with Ryan right off the bat when hardly anyone else will. She supports Pittsburgh in a way a nighttime teen soap had never seen before. But, during her Keeping It Real Tour of Newport 2003, Anna sometimes keeps it too real. A lot of times, she is straight up rude. Or condescending. Or shows a total lack of respect for boundaries.
The O.C. Season 1 is wonderful, Anna is a part of that, and the show couldn't have done it without her. But still — if we're actually looking at the character of Anna and not her impact on the show, sometimes she is a pretty frustrating person. I mean:
During her first episode, "The Debut", Anna, along with the rest of the core four, participate in cotillion. Also during the episode, Anna says her most memorable line, "Confidence, Cohen." It's cute and it's classic and it's more than a little condescending. She's just met Seth and already she's treating him like a 6-year-old who can't stand up for himself. (Yes, he kind of acts like a 6-year-old who can't stand up for himself sometimes, but Anna comes to this conclusion and starts acting on it more quickly than is societally acceptable.)
It's especially bad when you remember what leads up to her famous quote. Anna tells Seth, "Could you be any more pathetic? Lone figure, sitting on the floor, wondering if he's going to be lonely for the rest of his life." And the kicker: "You know what your problem is? You're not a man." Way harsh, Tai.
She Doesn't Respect Boundaries
During Season 1's Thanksgiving episode, Anna and Seth arrive at the Cohen home, and Anna asks Sandy and Kirsten if she can help with anything. Totally fine. But then, after they say they're good, she just starts rummaging through their fridge and pantry to find ingredients for a recipe she wants to make. This happens during a fast-paced convo where Anna is meeting the Cohens, so it's probably supposed to go somewhat unnoticed in the background, but Anna does tell Seth he'll be "eating his words" once her dish is complete, which makes it stand out. She doesn't arrive with those groceries! She takes them from people she's just met without asking!
She Has Really Awful Timing
During the same episode, Anna tries to start an argument with Caleb over his company's mistreatment of the wetlands, while he's clearly in the middle of some family drama with his daughter, Kirsten. Wanting to stand up to Caleb about his policies? Cool. Doing it while in your quasi-boyfriend's kitchen on Thanksgiving while his mom is obviously dealing with a lot? Not the time, Anna.
She Flosses In Front Of People
Nope. Don't like it. (Also, yes, Summer ends up doing this too and points have been docked from her, as well.)
She Says TOO Much
To go back to the cotillion episode, Anna says this when she meets Ryan: "Wait. Are you the kid from Chino who steals cars and sets people's houses on fire?" She ends up being excited that he is "the kid from Chino," but, to paraphrase Mean Girls, you can't just ask someone if they steal cars and set people's houses on fire.
She Messes With People's Emotions
Anna says she's going to help Seth woo Summer, but she ends up using it as a way for her to get closer to Seth herself, even though she thinks he doesn't see her that way. She kisses him in the middle of the carnival to express her feelings, but he's still operating under the guise that she's helping him make Summer jealous. While Seth is too dense to see what's going on, the whole thing still plays with his emotions in a pretty unfair way.
And when Anna returns briefly in Season 3, she helps Seth win Summer back. While Anna is not into Seth herself this time, it's still messing with Summer's emotions and purposely making her jealous.
She Can Be Really Obnoxious
During the episode "The Links", in which Oliver (ugh) takes the gang to stay at his parents' place in Palm Springs, Anna and Seth are full-on dating. This makes Summer express her jealousy by making herself the very clingy third wheel. But while Summer is purposely being annoying to make a point, Seth and Anna are being annoying because... they are just really annoying people while around each other. Their joking about being an old married couple and talking in baby voices is just too much.
Anna is not a bad person, and she's definitely not a villain. But if you really think about her actions and some of the things she says, well, you might not want to be around her all the time in real life. Still, before her Season 3 return, she does go out with a bang and gives us that emotional airport scene set to Nada Surf's cover of "If You Leave". And for that, O.C. fans everywhere can thank her.