Good and somewhat wholesome drama with a few cute chuckles thrown in to balance it out. There are adult themes but everything is fairly tame for teens to watch too. Decent mix of teen drama and adult situations intertwined in this somewhat affluent area called Orange County(OC).
Characters are very likeable. Kid from the bad part of town adopted by rich Jewish family, neighbors are constantly in and out of wed and cheating, teens are constantly fretting over being...well...teens, grumpy rich old neighbor/relative that is always fun to hate, everyone is constantly in/out of trouble with the law, lawyers, or each other.
Like Seinfeld, it is a show about nothing, but the writers manage to keep you hooked for the next episode of shenanigans in rich OC. This goes for all 4 seasons of OC too!
I found the third season to be a tale of two halves. The first half was very disappointing. It was hurt by new irratating and implausable characters. (Johnny, I thought, was boring. Jim Cooper, an old character, was pathetic. I would have preferred to see that he grew and learned from his mistakes.)
Some of the story lines were also implausable and weak. I suspect this was partly because there was no great conflict in the series. Ryan had become assimilated into Newport and was no longer at odds with it. (I think a nice twist would have been to deepen the conflict between Marissa and her new public-school world.)
In short, I no longer knew what the series was about, or what important goals its characters had.
I found the the second half of the season much better, especially because the series seemed to take a deeper, more dramatic turn. (It was certainly an adult drama as much as a teen one.) Yes, there were some problems - I felt Seth's pot smoking...
The third season of The O.C. was a huge disappointment after the wildly successful first season and the pretty good second season. This year, the kids are seniors and college is on the horizon. Ryan romances a dull newcomer, acts like he's 40 years old, and has way too little screen time. Marissa, once the queen of Harbor School, goes to public school with some unsavory new friends. Summer and Seth spend most of their time bickering, as do Sandy and Kirsten. Only spunky Julie Cooper stays true to her character as she merrily copes with new-found poverty and an unexpected new love.
What made the show great in the beginning was seeing Ryan adjust to the Newpsies and the on-again, off-again romances of the "Core Four" and their parents. Sadly, this season that all took a back seat to tedious guest-star story arcs featuring unlikable and off-putting characters.
Even with all its shortcomings, though, this season is a must for OC fans and it does end in a...
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