Sunny Facts about The O.C.

March 9, 2018 | Eva Blanchefleur

Sunny Facts about The O.C.

When The O.C. debuted in 2007, Fox had an immediate hit on their hands. Millions tuned in every week to watch as Ryan, Marissa, Seth, and Summer coupled and uncoupled, along with their parent’s ups and downs in the city of Newport Beach, California. Aspirational but realistic, comedic yet dramatic, The O.C. was beloved by fans and lauded by critics for its smart writing and self-awareness.

O.C. Facts

42. Out of the Gate

Almost immediately after its debut in August, 2007, The O.C. was a huge hit. The show was one of the most popular new dramas and also garnered great reviews from critics as well.

The O.C CastGetty Images

41. What It's All About

The show followed troubled teen Ryan Atwood and the wealthy Cohen family who takes him in after his mother kicks him out. Major themes explored by the show included belonging and culture clash, as Ryan integrated with his foster family, and the philanthropic and idealistic Cohens fit into the shallow, materialistic, and closed-minded community they lived in.

The O.C. FactsFlickr


40. Biggest Fan

Series star Ben McKenzie told Hollywood Life that once a year, he binge-watches all four seasons of The O.C. He must really love watching himself act.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons, Genevieve719

39. Too Strong

Show creator Josh Schwartz intended for the character of Marissa—and her storyline with Ryan—to be “him trying to save her from a fate that she couldn’t be rescued from”. In casting, the final choice was between Mischa Barton and Olivia Wilde. Schwartz thought Wilde was great, but “she has such a strong persona that she didn’t need rescuing”—so Barton got the part.

The O.C. FactsFlickr




Josh Schwartz was only 26 years old when the show premiered, making him one of the youngest people in network TV history to create a series, plus run day-to-day production. Talk about an early achiever.

The O.C. facts Getty Images

37. Not Just A Teen Show

Show creator Josh Schwartz was very clear that on The O.C., the world of adults was going to be just as important as the world of teens. The first person cast was Peter Gallagher, to play Sandy Cohen.

The O.C. FactsShutterstock

36. Flattered

The city of Newport Beach in California’s Orange County loved The O.C. In 2004, they presented the cast with the keys to the city of Newport Beach, and proclaimed October 28, 2004 as “OC Thursday”.

The O.C. FactsPixabay


35. Gone and Forgotten

In the first few episodes of The O.C., the Cohens have a maid, and the Coopers have a dog. Neither are ever seen again in later episodes. The disappearance or dismissal of a maid might not be a big deal, but you’d think the Coopers would notice their beloved family pet was missing.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images

34. Teen Mom?

Actress Kelly Rowan is only 14 years older than Adam Brody, who plays her son.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons


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33. Life Imitates Art

Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson—aka Seth and Summer—not only portrayed a couple on The O.C., they also dated in real life for the run of the show. Sadly, like Seth and Summer, Bilson and Brody weren’t destined for each other forever and they broke up shortly after the show ended.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images


32. Real Law

Actor Peter Gallagher made a name for himself playing public defender Sandy Cohen on The O.C., and he made his mark in real life too: for two years, he donated $2,000 to UC Berkley School of Law’s Boalt Hall, the alma mater of his fictional character, to help a student undertake an unpaid internship in the public service field. The scholarship was known as the Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship, or “The Sandy” for short.

The O.C. FactsWikipedia

31. A & F

Luke Ward, played by actor Chris Carmack, was often referred to on The O.C. as “Abercrombie and Fitch,” and not always in a nice way. Someone else thought he had the look of a preppy beefcake model too—Bruce Webber, the photographer for Abercrombie & Fitch. Carmack modeled in real life in several ad campaigns for the brand.

The O.C. FactsShutterstock

30. Continuity Error

Kaitlin Cooper, the younger sister of Marissa Cooper, was played by Shailene Woodley in Season 1. The character was shipped off to boarding school at age 12, but returned in Season 3, now played by Willa Holland. While only 18 months had passed in the show’s timeline, she was shown in one episode celebrating her 15th birthday. That math doesn’t add up. Soon after, she’s shown driving a car—despite being only 15 years old.

The O.C. FactsFlickr, Gage Skidmore


29. The Reason Why

Shailene Woodley told Moviefone the reason she was replaced on The O.C.: she re-auditioned for the role of Kaitlin, but she was a late bloomer and hadn’t fully gone through puberty yet, so didn’t look old enough for the reprised role. The part went to Willa Holland, who looked older despite being only five months older than Woodley. But even then, Holland was still one year younger than the resurrected 15-year-old Kaitlin.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons

28. A New Holiday

The O.C.’s Cohens were an interfaith family, and in the show, son Seth Cohen creates a new holiday to merge his mother’s Protestant faith with his father’s Judaism. The holiday was almost named “Hannamas,” which doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The O.C. FactsThe O.C., Fox

27. First Draft

The show’s most famous line wasn’t even in the original script. Creator Josh Schwartz wanted the phrase “The O.C.” to appear in the first episode, so he added the line, “Welcome to the O.C., bitch”, spoken by former Abercrombie & Fitch model Chris Carmack.

The O.C. FactsShutterstock


26. Musical Showcase

Music was a big part of The O.C. The Bait Shop, the show’s fictional music venue, saw performances by many popular bands from real life including The Killers, Modest Mouse, The Walkmen, and Death Cab for Cutie.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons

The Killers

25. First Plays

The O.C. was, in its first years, a hugely popular show with teens, so it made a great venue to premiere a new song. The Beastie Boys single “Ch-Check It Out” debuted on the show in 2004, and Gwen Stefani debuted her single “Cool” in another episode that year. Another episode, dubbed “The Beckisode” contained five new singles from Beck’s new album, Guero.

Eminem FactsGetty Images

24. From Outside to Inside

The Cohen home was based on two real homes in Malibu, California. Exterior shots of one home were filmed and used during all four seasons, and the interior, backyard, and pool of another home were filmed in the pilot. To save production costs when the show was picked up, the backyard, interior, and pool were all recreated at a film studio in Manhattan Beach, California.

The O.C. FactsThe O.C., Fox

23. In The Storyline

Season 1 features the Cohen family doing extensive remodeling on their home. This explains why their home looks different than it does in the pilot. The house was rebuilt at a film studio, and any details that weren’t matched exactly would have been explained by the remodel. How convenient.

The O.C. FactsThe O.C., Fox


22. No Danger of Drowning

There were some differences in the interior of the Cohen’s recreated home, and the pool was a bit different too. The recreated pool built at Raleigh Studios was only four feet deep. Actors had to film any scenes in which they were “standing on the pool while actually perched on their knees.

The O.C. FactsFlickr

21. Familiar Face

In a scene from The O.C., Seth Cohen refers to himself as “vomiting like that girl from The Sixth Sense.” If he’d seen The Sixth Sense he must not have recognized his neighbor. Mischa Barton, who played Marissa, played the girl he refers to in The Sixth Sense.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images



20. Young Stardom

Creator Josh Schwartz admitted that the cast of The O.C. had a “complicated chemistry” and didn’t always get along, but denied that the Marissa character was killed because Mischa Barton wanted off the show. He also admitted that some actors had reservations about being famous for acting on a primetime “teen drama.” Good thing the show was so well-received by critics.

The O.C. FactsShutterstock

19. Equal Billing

Rachel Bilson was credited as “guest star” in the opening credits for the first 14 episodes, despite appearing in every single one. Meanwhile, Tate Donovan was given star billing in the credits of those 14 episodes, including the ones he wasn’t even in.

The O.C. FactsShutterstock

18. No Reprieve

The O.C. was canceled in 2007 after four seasons. While it was a breakout hit in its first few seasons, declining ratings were the cause of the cancellation. An online petition begging for the show to continue collected 700,000 signatures, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images

17. Self-Referential

The O.C. features a long-running multi-layered meta-fictional joke, in the form of the fictional show-within-the-show called The Valley, which functions as a sort of equivalent to The O.C. within the show. The joke goes deeper, as there is also a fictional reality counterpart to The Valley, called Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley, about which Seth muses, "Why watch the plight of fictional characters when you can watch real people in contrived situations?"

The O.C. FactsGetty Images

16. Even Deeper

The meta-fiction goes even deeper: after the popularity of The O.C., it seems producers were inspired by show-within-a-show Sherman Oaks: The Real Valley, as they created a reality show called Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County in 2004. Art imitates life, which imitates art.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images

15. What’s in a Name?

“The O.C.” was a popular nickname used by residents of Orange County long before the show, but the decision to title the show The O.C. and not call it Orange County was possibly due to a film called Orange County coming out in 2002. The film starred Colin Hanks and Jack Black, and was a stoner comedy-of-errors about mixed-up college transcripts, very different in tone than The O.C. Wouldn’t want to confuse the two.

The O.C. FactsGetty Images

14. It Doesn’t Stop There

If you’ve watched both The O.C. and the film Orange County, you may notice another similarity: the song “California” by Phantom Planet is the theme song that plays during the opening credits to The O.C., and it plays over the end credits in Orange County.

The O.C. FactsWikipedia

13. So Meta

You’ll also recognize a familiar face if you watched both Orange County and The O.C.: actor Colin Hanks, who stars in Orange County, also stars in The Valley, the show-within-a-show on The O.C.

Tom Hanks QuizGetty Images


12. Shout-Out

In Season 4 of The O.C., which aired in 2005, Dr. Roberts (played by Michael Nouri) leaves Orange County for a job at a hospital in Seattle. Which hospital? He tells summer that his job is at a “quirky” hospital called Seattle Grace. This is a reference to the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy, and when Kaitlin makes a reference to “the short sassy lady” bossing Dr. Roberts around, she’s likely referring to Grey’s character Dr. Miranda Bailey. Dr. Roberts wasn’t being truthful about his exit, however, as Michael Nouri has yet to appear on Grey’s Anatomy.

The O.C. FactsWikipedia

11.Legal Loophole

Why wasn’t The O.C. actually filmed in Newport Beach? Labor union salary regulations about filming outside of Los Angeles County meant that it would be less expensive to film the show in nearby Manhattan Beach, so the show was shot at Raleigh Studios, only 40 miles from Newport Beach.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons

10. Name Drop

The O.C. got a little shout out in 2003’s Arrested Development, which is also set in Newport Beach. On Arrested Development, whenever someone referred to Orange County as “The O.C.” and annoyed Michael would quickly answer, “Don’t call it that”.

Arrested Development FactsArrested Development,Fox

9. My Dad was Hercules Too

Kevin Sorbo played Frank Atwood, Ryan’s father, but he’s best known for playing Hercules on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in the 1990s. Tate Donovan, who played Marissa’s father Jimmy Cooper, voiced Hercules in the animated Disney film, Hercules, as well as in the spin-off TV show and video games.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore

8. A Rose by Any Other Name…

According to the original pilot script written by Josh Schwartz, the Cohens’ last name was originally going to be Needleman.

Alan Rickman FactsShutterstock

 7.  What Could Have Been

In early drafts for the series, Ryan Atwood was originally going to be Sandy Cohen’s illegitimate son. That would have given the series a very different dynamic, and definitely tarnished Sandy’s squeaky clean character.

The O.C. FactsThe O.C., Fox

6. Asked to Join

Rachel Bilson, as Summer Roberts, was originally intended to be a guest star, but her character was so popular that she was written into the show as a regular. So was Melinda Clarke, who plays Julie Cooper. They both turned into important characters in the show—Bilson appeared in all of the show’s 92 episodes, while Clarke was in 90 episodes.

Rami Malek FactsGetty Images

5. Big Break

Ben McKenzie had appeared in bit parts on JAG and Mad TV before being cast as Ryan Atwood on The O.C., but the role was definitely his big break. At the time he was cast, McKenzie was working at as a telemarketer to pay the bills. He’s since gone on to play starring roles on Southland and Gotham.

The O.C. FactsWikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore

3. Spoiled Ending

Showrunners of The O.C. went to great lengths to protect the ending of Season 3’s finale, swearing the cast and crew to secrecy, and even filming alternate endings where different characters died. However, it was all for naught—actress Mischa Barton spoiled the ending only one hour before it aired when she told Access Hollywood that her character, Marissa, would die.

The O.C. FactsThe O.C., Fox

 1. First Impressions

Adam Brody nearly blew his audition for The O.C., and creator Josh Schwartz hated him at first. Brody was doing multiple other auditions during pilot season and didn’t bother learning the lines. Casting director Patrick Rush insisted that Brody was “very special,” so Schwartz gave him another shot. After a bit of rehearsing (and learning his lines) Brody came back in and nailed his second audition.

The O.C. FactsFlickr

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29

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