Category Archives: The Vampire Diaries

The OC

My last post was entirely too serious, so even though today I am feeling some major feelings, I’m going to sweep those under the proverbial rug and talk about something totally inconsequential: my love of the erstwhile series The OC. Is it my favorite show of all time? Maybe not. Do I own the box set? Naturally. Did I once, as part of a book publishing class for my master’s degree, create an illustrated diagram of all the show’s various tangled relationships through the whole four seasons? Why yes, I did. (If I still had said chart—and I probably do in a hard copy somewhere—I’d post it on here. It’s one of my finer efforts, I think.)

I occasionally like to half-watch TV shows while I’m blearily putting on makeup in the morning, and since the fall series have STILL not started, I will sometimes pop in a random OC DVD. Recently I started over with the pilot, and was shocked by how good it still is. I remember stumbling across the show for the first time when I was at home and bored, I think still in high school. SoapNet was showing the entire first season as a marathon, and I instantly got hooked. I sat in my parents’ bedroom for hours, indulging guiltily in the rapid-fire jokes and over-the-top melodrama, reveling in the Cohens’ easy, glossy family chemistry. And, naturally, developing a huge crush on Adam Brody (which doesn’t hold up today—except for when he’s flashing his dimples).

I find some of the plot lines fairly boring now, but I’m surprised at how good of an actor Ben McKenzie is when they’re letting him be a vulnerable, troubled teen rather than some sort of stoic cage fighter. And while Mischa Barton’s wide-eyed “Heys” drive me b-a-n-a-n-a-s, I’m noticing something about her brittle, wounded demeanor that makes Marissa Cooper a more believable—if wildly inconsistent—character than I’ve thought before.

What’s also interesting is the number of now big names who appeared in bit parts: The Vampire Diaries‘ Paul Wesley as semi-psychotic waiter Donnie, Amber Heard in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her turn as a vapid shop girl, and, of course, Olivia Wilde as Marissa’s ratings-bait girlfriend.

I also thank the OC for introducing me to lots of great music and the combined amazingness that is Melinda Clarke and Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows. Put them in the same room and you’ve got an instant recipe for success.

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I’ve caught VD.

Yes, it’s true—I’m officially obsessed with The Vampire Diaries. As you can tell from my previous entries (or lack thereof), I officially gave up on True Blood about one episode after Eric turned into a Sookie-banging fluffy bunny of a vampire . I mean. Come. ON. I wasn’t expecting much from a CW show about teen vampires in small-town Virginia, but if the AV Club covered it, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. And damn, am I hooked. Both AVC and TVWoP have great articles on why you should watch this show, and I’m going to add mine to the mix. (Yes, they may overlap. You’ll get over it.)

5) The smorgasbord of eye candy
Holy shneikies, is this a pretty show. Every single person on it is unbelievably gorge, and they manage to look model-perfect while being stabbed, shot, staked, starved, burned, bitten, throttled (lots of throttling), or otherwise roughed up.

4) Caroline Forbes
Okay, and Elena, and Aunt Jenna (poor Jenna!), and Katherine and Rebekah, sort of. This show passes the Bechdel test, for sure, and while the show doesn’t avoid going to the well of one character dating her best friend’s ex, it’s incredibly refreshing that it doesn’t result in a falling-out between the two female characters. Realistic for teenage girls, or teenagers in general? Meh. But it makes for a hell of a likable roster of ladies. And of those, Caroline is still my favorite; having not read the books, I can’t really argue with Tyler Lockwood’s description of her as an “insecure, neurotic, bitchy little twit,” but from what I’ve seen on the show she does nothing but kick ass (literally and figuratively). She’s loyal and loving, supportive of her friends, and maintains her sunny disposition despite a bastard father and a tendency to get kidnapped and tortured every other episode. If Elena is the spark that ignites most of the show’s events, Caroline is the gooey marshmallow heart at the center of the s’more. Yes, I’m mixing metaphors. But now aren’t you just thinking about how delicious s’mores are?

3) Speaking of female bad-assery…
Finally, ladies who are more than damsels in distress! I’ve consciously eschewed as much knowledge of Twilight as I can, but I’ve picked up enough from reading E! Online to know it’s very unlikely Bella would ever legit stab herself in the gut to lure a villain to close enough proximity that she can stab him in turn. Not to mention all the times Bonnie, Caroline, and Elena have saved Stefan and Damon’s undead cabooses. Plus, the females on this show aren’t afraid to say in no uncertain terms when they feel they’re being treated badly.

2) The insanely fast-moving plots
I say this as a former huge fan of The O.C. and Chuck, but damn, TVD writers, you put Josh Schwartz and co. to shame! The O.C. spent so much of its time spinning its wheels, dragging out conflicts by making characters do monumentally stupid things to cover up a less stupid thing they’d done before, and then eight episodes later having it blow up in their faces. But TVD rips through plot point after plot point, keeping the action moving forward while still fully exploring emotional arcs and somehow managing to keep everything compelling. Yes, the story lines are getting steadily more convoluted, but it’s in a logical way—instead of, say, the “Julie Cooper realizes at her almost-ex-husband’s funeral that she’s still in love with her first ex-husband, who is the father of her teenage daughters whose teenaged boyfriend she also had an affair with” kind of way.

1) It’s freakin’ fun to watch.
I’m a huge, HUGE fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I can’t bring myself to rewatch the later seasons, because it’s so depressing. Terrible things happen to our Scooby gang episode after episode, and while it’s emotionally gripping, it’s also emotionally exhausting. The one time Buffy tried to cut loose and have a beer, she turned into a dreadlocked cavewoman and almost got burned alive. TVD, on the other hand, lets its characters—teenage and otherwise—drink, and flirt, and sleep together. Elena’s de facto dad is a highly functioning alcoholic; her legal guardian aunt, after a fight, gets rip-roaringly drunk while at a bar with two high schoolers (and “Tonight I have traded you for Señor Tequila” is still one of my favorite lines from the show). Again, it’s not realistic, but this is pure escapist TV—one that hits plenty of believable emotional beats and has made me tear up on more than one occasion, but still, for all intents and purposes, just a fun hour of television. And whatever insane plot twists the writers somehow continue to dream up keep it grounded firmly in that territory. Which, in the end, is what keeps me coming back.

There’s lots more to love, of course—not least of which being Ian Somerhalder’s…”eye thing,” I believe is the official name for it. So what keeps you watching?