Fox’s fall season began this month with its much anticipated second season of the hit show, ‘The OC.’ Its success not only marks the show’s popularity, but also brought Orange County, Calif. to the attention of the world, which up until now was largely overlooked as some kind of suburb of the Greater Los Angeles Area.
‘The OC’ centers around several main characters, including Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) who moves to Newport Beach after conflicts back home in Chino, Calif. He moves in with well off Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan) who take him in as a second son to their Seth (Adam Brody).
What attracts a national audience is the wonderful life portrayed in ‘The OC’: beautiful, half-naked masses of people driving $40,000-plus cars, spending their days moving from party-to-party and beach-to-beach in what can arguably be considered our nation’s best climate.
But how accurate is this world behind the screen?
Taking Pacific Coast Highway across the county will provide you with access to this lifestyle of money and pleasure, passing through Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The show focuses heavily on these locations and their associate glamorous lifestyle, only making reference elsewhere to Atwood’s hometown of Chino in San Bernardino County, Calif., perceived by their residents as some distant, standard-of-living ghetto.
The parallels found between this sliver of Orange County and the real-world counterpart is terribly comparable; fashion trends begin and end here, many people live their life on and around the water, there seems to always be something fishy behind the notorious expansions of the Newport Group and every so often a broken nail ruins someone’s week.
What about the rest of Orange County?
Not mentioned are the cultural diversity of Westminster’s Little Saigon, the booming Disneyland Resort of Anaheim nor Newport’s immediate neighbors of Santa Ana and Fountain Valley-even our very own university is an afterthought, barely even mentioned at all.
Are these places somehow less ideal than the coastal communities or did the show’s creators feel a lack of extravagance would provide to be too uninteresting for viewers?
Maybe so, but maybe one shouldn’t expect the show to reflect that.
‘The OC’ has not only become a part of popular culture, it simultaneously mocks it. Through the ‘ideal’ world of Orange County’s beach-city life, the show uses the nationwide stereotypes of what we expect from such a lifestyle and shapes it into exaggeration. Viewers watch the typically expected love triangles and family separation familiar with a popular drama, expressed through an all-the-money-you’ll-need culture. The trivial becomes seemingly life-or-death in nature, and the audience isn’t expected to take situations and actions too seriously.
It’s a melodrama
Filed Under: A & E