Reflections on the Johnny Arc from The OC Season 3

The Internet connection in my apartment is spotty at best, so when I was glued to the couch for two days during Sandy I started rewatching the one box set TV show I own: The OC. I skipped around, but I’m currently on season three, a.k.a. the season when Marissa goes to public school, meets a skinny, doe-eyed surfer named Johnny, and proceeds to completely ruin his life.

I forgot how tedious this plot line was, and also how ultimately sad. Marissa as a character always basically drove me crazy, but this was the season that really drove home how careless she was with people, even as she convinced herself she was being a selfless person. She knew Johnny for one semester of school—so maybe four or five months—and in the span of that time he lost his girlfriend, had his promising surfing career ruined when he got hit by a car, and then accidentally died while depressed and drunk on cheap tequila. Was all of that Marissa’s fault? Maybe not directly. But it’s hard not to think that he would have been better off never meeting her at all.

One of the more significant life lessons I learned is that sometimes people come into your life who are just not good for you. They take your time and your energy and your money if you’re really unlucky, they sap you of emotional strength, they attach themselves to you like human barnacles. And for whatever reason, it’s weirdly hard sometimes to realize just how bad they are for you. Maybe you feel sorry for them. Maybe you have a Mother Teresa complex and think you can “fix” them. Maybe they’re like my high school boyfriend, who was a jerk to everyone but nice to me, and I loved it because it made me feel special. Maybe they’re like my recent crush, whom I liked probably partly because he was practically bipolar in the way he acted toward me—sometimes he was the sweetest, and I felt like we had a real connection, and then he’d completely ignore me for weeks at a time.

I’ve known several people like that over the years. And for whatever reason, I let them be in my life for longer than I should have. Eventually I realized I had to cut ties, but not until I drove myself half nuts trying to deal with the drama. My old roommate, totally softhearted and a sucker for lost causes, recently went through something to that effect, but to a fairly extreme degree. I’m glad she finally realized what she needed to do. It’s never easy, and you might feel guilty—but at least you won’t end up falling off a cliff while blitzed on Cuervo, right?

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