Thursday, February 22

farewell, newport

(Disclaimer: An uncharacteristically long essay in a tone I don't usually take on for the blogosphere starts here. This is just the way I see things and I couldn't let this happen without saying something, everything. If you were a fly on a wall, tonight you would find me home alone, wearing black, savoring my last 60 minutes of my favorite show. And yes, it is a teenage soap opera.)

The end's not near, it's here.

Tonight, at 9 p.m., I bury the show that got me---the girl who never ever had cable (let alone a favorite TV show) into TV. The same show I avoided like the plague for approximately 1.5 years. The one I hated because they knew and promoted the elitist music collection I had been scouting out and hoarding to myself and a few select friends for years.

Bands like Death Cab, Doves and Spoon were plastered all over the previews. My roommates and I would exchange looks of disbelief and share rolled eyes. Someone in Hollywood had cracked the code for cool, and was using it to promote a teenage soap opera.

Though we never tried too hard, my group consisted of a bunch of smart dressers. We were into the hottest new bands and we went to their shows. We read cool blurred-genre novels and artsy books. And we weren't bad-looking, either. At least that's how I saw it.

In the fading years of adolescence (we hadn't really felt true youth beginning to loosen its grasp on us, back then) things really glistened when our attempts at literary-mindedness blended with a little dumb fun, accented with a lot of Mt. Dew: weekends consisted of karaoke, camping, cabin trips, dance parties and more karaoke---and maybe a trip to Salt Lake to see Pedro the Lion or the Weakerthans.

Life was about fun/smart nexuses, with an emphasis on the fun.

The next 1.5 years changed things. Some of us got married, and in doing so, got poor. We gladly traded in our vintage-and-designer wardrobes for eternal love and Qwest bills. Some of us acquired decent salaries, but had to sign away our three months of uninterrupted summer for two weeks of paid vacation, which will never seem fair nor compare to the golden Junes, Julys and Augusts of our youths.

We came home tired, to husbands and wives who were also tired from long days in cubicles. Though the keyboard brings the world to your fingertips, we lost touch. Not with one another, but with the last shreds of teenage youth left within us.

It was at this point that I re-encountered The OC. (What a dumb name, I thought. Later, with endearment, I would be calling it "Oh-Ceesy" or on more humorous days, "Oh Sleazy.") And this time around, I was ready for it. In fact, I needed it.

Somewhere in the middle of season two, after partaking in just a few episodes, I found myself hooked. Perhaps it was Seth's likeness to my pals---my very own husband, on occasion---or Marissa's coveted Chanel wardrobe. Or maybe it was nerdy Seth's proclamation of love made to popular Summer atop a lunch cart. That, or the old-man attire and attitude he adopted in Palm Springs. Maybe it was just the beachy scenery partnered with an unbeatable soundtrack. California, here we come, indeed.

Sure, there was plenty of dumb. A mom having an affair with her daughter's ex-boyfriend? Marissa's totally unbelievable lesbian phase? Sandy and Kiki aka "The Moral Center of the Universe" flirting with adultery, themselves? Come on.

But there was lots of fun too: weekends in TJ, overnights in the mall, cool (real) bands at the Bait Shop, carnivals and ferris wheels, pool houses and Chrismukkah miracles, plus a tight-knit group of friends who cared about each other, not to mention a rebellious teen taken in by a loving and wise Newport couple, and many lives forever changed. Who doesn't want to be Ryan Atwood in some form or another?

On top of the silly and the heartfelt, there was also the smart: Teens quoting Proust. Obsessions with "graphic novels" and Korean film. The writing itself boasted prize one-liners---not the over-scripted, chatty, no-proper-moments-of-silence kind you see on the CW shows---but timely pokes and puns, all delivered naturally, as if impromptu. The kind that make TV personalities shine. All this, and numerous jokes pointed at the OC itself: Seth's fear of Sandy's grizzly eyebrows, Ryan and his token wifebeater and punching habits, "The Valley" teenage soap opera.

There were also pop culture references and brilliant reenactments. Seth and Summer's Spider Man-like kiss should go down as one of the best in TV history.

Sure, it was all a bit adolescent. But so was my attitude in college. And the show wasn't anything close to perfect, but who/what is? Like most things, it worked that way. After graduating and feeling somewhat "settled down" at the ripe old age of 24, I was in need of a little candy for the eyes and ears. I didn't and still don't want to grow up, not yet. Perhaps it's for the best that I see my OC friends fade into the sunset now, before the Core Four (actually three, now, plus a newbee) ditch their visions of endless possibilities and endless summers.

But if the future holds anything Sandy and Kirsten Cohen-ish for Curtis and I, growing up won't be so bad, after all.

Goodbye, sunshine. As Seth put it, "Farewell, Newport. We hardly knew you."


Anonymous said...

Great tribute, Ali. It's always what we're too cool for that we eventually love, isn't it? Which is why this is as good a time as any to tell you that one of my favorite shows (well into my twenties) was Saved By The Bell. I even partook a little in Saved By The Bell: The New Class. And it didn't even have a good soundtrack...

Enjoy your last moments with your TV friends. They need you now more than ever.

becky said...

Amen Ali! Farewell, Newport! I will wear black as well tonight. :-(

jamieanne said...

Gone are the golden days of endless summers in The OC. I'm so sad.
Tonight I'm attending an O.C., RIP Party where we all wear black and watch our favorite clips before we have to say goodbye. Boohoo.

Anonymous said...

My favorite quote:

"They're playing Death Cab on The Valley? I'll never listen to them again"

This makes me a little sad I gave up on the show mid season 3. I guess I'll have to get the DVDs.

Kim said...

I've been thinking about it all week and actually dreading today because I don't want it to end! I love the tribute Ali!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... maybe I'll watch this series after all. Your post made me question why I never watched in the first place.

When I lost 'Felicity' it was a very sad time... But, just take it one day, or Thursday night, at a time.


allison said...

Ali, you couldn't have put it in better words. I loved your tribute, I even had to read some parts to david because I couldn't agree more!
I'm so sad to see the OC go. But what a good ending...

Lorilee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorilee said...

I had the chills the entire time I read this essay. Thanks Ali,
no one could have put it better.