• Justin O

How The O.C. Killed Postmodernism 

After much delay, I'm finally starting this series on one of the most culturally significant shows of the 2000s. It is of my belief that despite its primetime soap opera feel, and sometimes cringey story arcs, The O.C. was a very important show. When you look at the OC as an important addition to our cultural zeitgeist, you begin to notice the subtle yet brilliant undertones of the series. You begin to appreciate the music, the scenery, etc. When unpacked, the O.C. becomes not just a primetime soap but a melodrama with cultural significance. The O.C. attempted to create a postmodern foray into the life of California teens. Instead, it was perhaps the first show to break away from post-modernist traditions and attempt to introduce the world to a new way of looking at things. The O.C. was ahead of its time. It marked the end of postmodernism and although unsuccessful, attempted to usher in a new post-postmodernist motif. I guess we can start with season 1. A brief synopsis. A young boy, Ryan Atwood, has been arrested for stealing a car. He's detained but due to having no priors is released into the custody of his appointed lawyer, Sandy Cohen. Although well off due to his real estate mogul wife, Sandy is a left wing, progressive guy who can't help but want to help Ryan. As the season progresses, we see Ryan become entrenched as a member of the Cohen family. The Cohen's also have a teenage boy of their own, Seth. Seth is a nerd, and a bit of a loner. But he is also the single most important television character of the early 21st century. Seth Cohen is a representation of postmodernism. His quick quips, and sarcasm lead into the nihilistic mantra of postmodernism. But Seth is also a character in transition. As season 1 progresses, he begins opening up to the world and begins to drop his cynicism in exchange for kindness and acceptance. Even Seth's choice of music speaks volumes. The O.C. was influential in that it made Indie Rock a thing. It was a new type of music, for a new era. And if you look at the music that "defines" post-postmodernism, it's exactly the type of music Seth listens to. So even as a representation of postmodernism, you see traits of Seth that represent the ushering in of a new era. From now on, let's refer to post-postmodernism by a different name. For the sake of this piece, we will from now on refer to post-postmodernism as the "New Modernity". It goes by other labels, but for our purposes, we will settle on this. Now, back to Season 1, we are brought through the coming of age story of Seth and the introduction of Ryan to Orange County. Other important characters are introduced and intense, sometimes cringey plot lines emerge. But the real story of season 1 occurs beneath the surface. As we are taken into the world of Orange County, we are taken through a transition. When Marissa Cooper almost dies in Tijuana, we almost feel like we missed out on something. It's hard to explain but doesn't it feel like Marissa dying in Tijuana is what should have happened? But as viewers we weren't ready for that. And as a character, neither was Seth. We weren't ready to forget about postmodernity, and that is why Marissa survives. Her ultimate death is important, and having it occur early into the show would be too fast a transition. And that was something we weren't ready for. There's more to cover which I will dive into in later parts. I might do this as a weekly series until it is done. One addition to the piece a week. Yeah I like that. But as for today, the takeaway is that the show itself was culturally significant because it began the transition from postmodernity into "The New Modernity". And as you will see in the next installments of this series, it changed the way we consume television and film. Here's to Newport Union. #popcullture #postmodernism #television

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