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Pulp-free OC

This year for Thanksgiving, I had a life-changing experience. I stayed at Duke, ate lasagna instead of turkey, and did something that I personally believe that if you haven’t done yet, you are not qualified as a human being: I continuously watched all 27 episodes of the first season of “The OC”. Finally, I have found a show to compete with “Sex and the City”; the problem being, of course, that I’ve watched five more seasons of “Sex and the City” than I have “The OC”.

But I digress. Let me tell you a few things about watching “The OC”: first off, in order to truly appreciate the intense drama and plot development, not to mention feeling true empathy for and falling in love with every single character, one must watch all the episodes continuously. Think of it like this: You have a glass of milk. Every week, for 27 weeks, you take a mathematically equal sip of this milk. On the 27th week, you finish it. Understand? By the last week, you’ll be sifting through more mold and maggots than you will actually have milk, which will be curdled anyway.

In any case, I guess I have a special place in my heart for that show. I mean I live in California, I’ve been to Orange County and L.A. many times, and one of my closest friends is from the real OC. I do know that in reality, Orange County really isn’t anything like “The OC”. I mean, yeah, it’s possible that the events in the show actually happen in real life. But please. How many of us have an Aunt Hailey who is a stripper? Moreover, how many of us have a grandfather who is marrying our friend Marissa’s mother Julie (who, not to mention, had an affair with another one of our 17-year-old friends whose dad was caught cheating on his wife with another man)? And how can we forget that Julie’s ex-husband Jimmy is in a relationship with Aunt Hailey (the stripper)? This makes Marissa our step-mother, and possibly, if her dad Jimmy marries Hailey, our step-cousin as well. Oh, and Jimmy’s ex-wife Julie would become his mother-in-law. Confused? Yeah? Exactly. I might be slightly off about these facts, but I actually made a family tree for the characters on the show.

So after watching an unholy amount of “The OC”, I stayed up thinking about what had just happened to me. How could I have let a show so predictable and visibly shallow grip me so tightly? Why had it played with my emotions, made me laugh and cry, scream in agony and want to wither away at points (like when no one believed Ryan that Oliver was evil!)? I mean, what happened to me was equivalent of the effect Yossarian and company had on me in Catch-22, which, if you think about it for longer than the initial shock of this juxtaposition, is really quite pathetic. But in all of my thoughtful wanderings, I came up with an answer to this dilemma: we humans, in this day and age, are really quite sick.

I assure you, it’s true. Simply look at the shows on television recently. We are obsessed with excess; strangely enough, however, we also love criticizing it. We dream about these lives we can never have (think that of Oliver, the rich kid who lives in a penthouse suite), but once they’re portrayed on television, we glorify ourselves in relation to the characters on the show (who really wants to be sad whiny Oliver anyway?). We scream and yell at the television—who (besides Marissa) would consider being with Oliver when she has strong and silent Ryan? And we’re convinced that we’re better than them. The irony in the situation is that in reality, it’s we, the obsessed ones living in a dream world created by Hollywood, who are messed up. It’s sad if you think about it: Reality has become watching a fake reality on television.

This trend is a downward spiral, but we must learn to embrace it. This may all sound depressing, but rest assured: When Season Two comes out on DVD, I’ll be first in line to pick it up.

 

Matt Dearborn is a Trinity sophomore.

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