Maybe it’s unevolved of me to say, but sometimes it is very cathartic to see a jerk gets punched on television. Given that I’ve never punched or seen anyone get punched in real life, can’t say that it would be as amusing (not to mention painless and quick-healing) off-screen. But wanted to? Yeah, on occasion my imagination has lighted on the idea of getting into a victorious tussle with an infuriating opponent. Only fists, mind you, and never hospitalization level, but maybe a black eye to make them reconsider their… well, Thesaurus.com has failed to provide me with a proper adjective that has the same punch as a curse word so I’ll let you fill in the blank… ways.
Being truthful, I am very fortunate at the low number of violent encounters I’ve met with. Still, if one is to keep their hands to themselves they will need an outlet for releasing all that bottled up anger from doing the right thing.
Little would I have guessed one of those current outlets would be The OC. Thanks to a recent Amazon Deal of the Week, the complete series box set has been a source of vast entertainment these last few weeks. The show initially caught my attention because of its two leads. Before Ben McKenzie played heroic cops on Southland and now Gotham he was Ryan Atwood, the smart teen from Chino who has his life radically altered after his lawyer’s rich family takes him in from a broken home. Adam Brody (Gilmore Girls’ Dave Rygalski) plays that family’s comic book loving skateboarder son, who has never fit in with the rest of his peers but immediately takes to his pool house’s new occupant.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this California-set soap but what I would soon discover is it’s not an episode of The OC unless someone’s falling down from a hit to the face. So far there’s been a definite lack of gender equality in who gets to do the honors (I’m still waiting for Rachel Bilson’s Summer Roberts to have her day in season two). Also, if these clips start to look like Ryan Atwood B-roll, that’s understandable given he’s the one who usually finds himself getting into, or initiating, these combative scenarios. Still, one expected benefit from getting to watch all of these fights go down for various reasons and in various locations is you begin to recognize when exchanging blows is called for and when it would’ve been better resolved another way elsewhere. So, without further ado, here’s a new segment I like to call: To Fight or Not to Fight: OC Edition.
DO: Start A Beach Brawl To Defend Your New Best Friend (and future brother)
Sure, Seth was the one who dragged Ryan to this party in the first place. Drunk Seth is also the guy who proceeded to yell at Ryan for mistaking Summer’s drunken advances on him as being self-initiated. Yet being a stand-up person, he doesn’t leave his wasted friend alone but is the first (and only) person to race to Seth’s side when he realizes he’s being bullied by the cruel popular kids. They’re outnumbered so naturally both get pummeled, but strong friendships (and iconic lines like, “Welcome to the OC, bitch”) are born from nothing less.
DON’T: Find Yourself Cornered In A Model Home Covered With Lighted Candles
Candles + Model Home = Fire. Every time. Without fail. It can also equal death so thankfully (out of the kindness of his heart, I’m sure) Luke turns back to retrieve the unconscious Ryan he’d just knocked out. Still, all those candles in one place poses a couple of questions: “Where does a guy get so many candles?” “Finding you do have that many candles, why light them all at the same time? Did it not seem a bit excessive, even before the arrival of unruly visitors?” “I know Marissa brought you a bag of supplies but was it really because she’d developed a crush on you or did her school just have a Yankee candle fundraiser and she needed to pawn off her leftover supply?”
DO: Defend Your Lawyer’s Wife From Rude Prison Inmates (played by future Veronica Mars alum, Francis Capra)
During a brief prison stint caused by the mobile home burning incident, Seth and his mom stop by to visit Ryan in juvie. When an inmate starts to get too close to Kristen, however, Ryan intercedes, to the tune of death threats. If Kristen wasn’t debating adoption before, she definitely starts to after this sincere, if ill-advised, gesture.
DON’T: Punch Another Father In the Middle Of Both Your Daughters’ Cotillion Ceremony
Walk outside first. It’s not like you couldn’t have seen Jimmy, Marissa’s dad’s, news coming. He’d been evading your questions about your money all night. Be the bigger person and don’t spoil your kids’ special night by getting into an immature throw down in front of everybody in town. Your adults for crying out load. Act like it.
DON’T: Intercede In Clearing Your Con Brother’s Debts With Carjackers
They will never be content with the vehicle you bring them but want to collect “interest” as well (because every criminal has to have a clever code word for “beating the crap out of you”). Does it work out this time? Admittedly, but you can’t always depend on Marissa not listening to you about returning home, thus providing a perfectly timed getaway car from the scene.
DO: Help Your Girlfriend Stand Up for Herself Against Her Mom Who Wants to Have Her Committed
Ryan doesn’t regularly do much talking but he makes an exception when crossing paths with the formidable Julie Cooper. No fists necessary in this fight. In retrospect it might have been good for Marissa to get some help away from home (especially since she doesn’t immediately follow up on her agreement to see someone local instead) but it’s a really extreme course of action and there should’ve been another way of approaching her about it.
DON’T: Give Into Your Reflexes And Punch Your Girlfriend’s Creepy New Friend From Therapy (when she finally attends)
Oliver absolutely had it coming and was not someone safe for Marissa to be keeping company with. This simply was not the way to convince her of that fact. Instead Ryan loses the high ground and looks like a jealous boyfriend. Plus, getting in a fight at school is generally not recommended. Maybe it’s not such a big deal in Orange County, considering how later on in the season Eddie, who doesn’t even attend that high school, gets away with the same thing when he suspects Ryan of sleeping with his fiancé, Teresa. In both cases confrontation doesn’t absolve their fears but only push Teresa and Ryan closer together, just as Marissa grows closer to Oliver.
DO: Get Into An Altercation With Your Ex-Wife’s Fiancé
While it looked like Sandy (Seth’s dad) was going to be the one who got to punch his father-in-law, Caleb, for being behind his restaurant’s inability to get a liquor license (and then buying the property from him at a bargain only to sell it for major profit), his business partner, Jimmy beats him to the, well, punch. Having found out that Caleb was blackmailing Marissa to move out of her dad’s house and back in with her mom, he immediately goes out in search of the monster to give him a piece of his mind. Later he turns out to be a complete weakling when he lets Marissa move out anyway, so he can stay in California with Caleb’s money from the restaurant deal… but at least he expressed his indignation at the arrangement first.
TOSS UP: Luke And Ryan Unite Forces To Take Out Homophobes… But Get Outnumbered Again
It seems like only yesterday that Luke and Ryan were the ones who hated each other. They put their differences aside on this occasion, though, to confront a couple of intolerant students from another school who throw gay insults their way, after Luke’s dad was recently outed. Before this point Luke himself wasn’t the most tolerant of persons (see his original fight with Ryan on the beach, which started over Seth being called names) but it seems like he might be starting to see the error in his ways. Of course a couple of guys turns out to be a lot more guys and the fight doesn’t go in their favor. They are on the side of not being creeps though, so it’s not a complete loss.