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'The O.C.' nostalgia recap: Model citizen

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Model Home” | Aired Aug 12, 2003

This week on The O.C., Seth and Marissa help Ryan run away, Jimmy writes Kirsten one hell of an I.O.U., and the music supervisor continues to build the show’s soundtrack around every pop/rock song with the word “California” in the title. I’m Sage, and I’ll be your recapper this evening.

When we last left the tenuously united Atwood-Cohens, Sandy & Co. had taken Ryan in again after his mother skipped town—a temporary solution. Despite how cute Ryan and Seth look floating on matching rafts in the family pool, Ryan will be turned over to child services the next day. “Yeah, because everyone wants a brand-new teenager,” says a sweetly indignant Seth.

But never fear: Kirsten offers up some relevant exposition about her company’s housing development and its unfinished model home. Ryan is drawn to the 3D model that sits on their kitchen island (foreshadowing!) and jokingly asks Kirsten if she’ll build him one. She is now nearly drowning in her upper-middle-class guilt.

Seth goes to the pool house to adorably invite Ryan to an after-dark PlayStation session, but he finds his friend all packed up and running away with no discernible direction. Seth, however, knows just the place. The two run into Marissa on their way out and fail at playing it cool. (“Maybe the black turtleneck in August tipped her off.” “Okay, I was going for stealth, and also, it’s slimming.”) Aiding and abetting a runaway teen ranks higher on her bucket list than another one of Holly’s pool parties because Coop is into Kerouac and the Cramps, and this is a group mission now.

The bonding is happening every which way at the model home. Seth and Marissa find they have more in common than they expected, and Ryan and Marissa swap stories about messy parents. Meanwhile, the populars are about to send out a search party, as they can’t get properly turnt when down one of their drinking buddies. Knowing she’s already rocked the boat enough for one evening, Marissa heads out for Summer’s birthday, but not before telling Ryan that she wants him to stay. “Okay,” he says. “For a little while.” Because men are simple.

The next morning, Ryan is missing and the cops are in Cohens’ driveway; a suspicious Luke shows up to the Coopers’ uninvited to lock Marissa in for the day; and Julie casually demands another check from Jimmy for Caitlin’s stable fees. Also, Shailene Woodley gets to deliver the line, “What? I love China. She’s the prettiest pony”—surely the highlight of her career thus far.

Marissa and Seth shake their respective responsibilities and bring Ryan some supplies. They collectively forget that he needs to be fed, though Marissa at least remembers to bring a loofah and a flirty, custom mix CD. It’s so on. They head to the boardwalk for sustenance, on bike, skateboard, and foot. Mind you, this is the same boardwalk that their contemporaries visit daily. But who cares about poor judgment when we’re having a moment of pure teenage joy set to The Doves’ “Caught by the River”? At the diner, Ryan talks about Austin and a former boyfriend of his mother’s who promised that he could find Ryan work. Marissa and Seth look sick about it. He’s opened up both of their lives so much in just a few days.

Luke and his water-polo cronies walk in, because this is a popular local diner and maybe not the best place to take a fugitive. Marissa gamely runs interference, but the boys aren’t able to sneak out undetected. Unconcerned when Luke runs his mouth about him, Ryan only retaliates when Seth becomes the target. “You know what I like about rich kids?” Ryan asks Luke, right before punching him in squarely in the face. “Nothin’.”

Back at the model home, the kids aren’t alone. Jimmy has asked Kirsten to meet. He’s in deep financial trouble and is too much of a coward to tell his wife to stop importing ceramic shower-curtain rings from Morocco. Seth, Marissa, and Ryan overhear the whole conversation, including Kirsten’s promise to lend Jimmy a cool $100,000 and the news that the contractors will be starting work again the next morning. No more fun-time mansion camping. Ryan needs an exit strategy.

Continuing the running theme of Ryan Atwood never being able to do things quietly, the fight alerts Sandy and the authorities that he’s still in town. Sandy sets off with Seth to look for him. Meanwhile, Marissa is back in her natural habitat, freaking Summer out with existential questions (“Do you ever wonder what your life looks like through someone else’s eyes?”) and not laughing at Luke’s crass jokes. She ditches the party because, hello, a handsome and misunderstood teen drifter awaits.

It’s almost like Ryan expects her, what with the candles and the Jeff Buckley version of “Hallelujah” on the stereo. “I don’t know why I’m here,” she says. “I just wanted to see you.” She asks if she can spend the night and “just hang out” (sure), but Ryan says no. If she does, he won’t be able to leave in the morning, and there’s nothing there for him if he stays. “We’re from different worlds,” he says, as if we needed the Romeo and Juliet of it all spelled out for us. She leaves, crying, and doesn’t notice that Luke and his band of nameless jocks followed her there.

Luke asks what Ryan has been doing with his girlfriend and hey, fair question at this point. The inevitable beating ensues, knocking candles onto drop cloths and lighting the place up. Luke and Ryan keep going at it among the flames, and actually it looks pretty harrowing, so well done, show. Ryan gets knocked out. Luke’s bros have already fled, and he looks at the door and then back to Ryan. But he’s a spoiled brat, not a murderer. Luke drags his nemesis out to relative safety.

At the now-smoldering structure, Seth finally confesses his involvement to his parents. Luke, riding solo, pulls over when he sees Ryan hitchhiking and warns him that they should both keep their mouths shut. Anticipating Seth and Marissa being held responsible, Ryan forces Luke to take him back to the Cohens. The cops are waiting. “I’m sorry,” Ryan says to a stone-faced Sandy and Kirsten. As he’s led to the squad car, Luke has yet another attack of conscience. He blurts out that it was an accident and grudgingly admits to being there. Both boys are taken into custody. Now super-lawyer Sandy is the one instructing them to keep their mouths shut.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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