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'The O.C.' nostalgia recap: Personal growth is so painful

Season 2 | Episode 3 | “The New Kids on the Block” | Aired Nov 18, 2004

The O.C. thrived most when it didn’t take itself so seriously, which is a truth of the inconvenient variety that the Newport crew learn in “The New Kids on the Block.” They’ll learn it and forget it 10 times over, of course, but for a flash in the pan, Seth realizes he’s become the self-centered Orange County cliche he has vehemently hated for so many years.

Self-awareness, as we all know, can be an asset, but it can also be a tragic flaw. And in The O.C., tragic flaws are the welcome mat of widespread madness. Caleb’s arrest sends shock waves through the Cohen and Cooper families, but don’t expect the aftershocks to be long-lasting. Seth is more concerned with his messy hair and messier girl problems, and it leads him directly to one Olivia Wilde.

He uses reverse psychology to trick himself into thinking he doesn’t want Summer back. Right. Because scoring a job scrubbing toilets at The Bait Shop to get concert tickets for your ex and her new boyfriend is totally normal. Good news for him: Summer doesn’t know how she feels about Zach, or Seth, for that matter. In some crazy way, he’s still in the game, and becoming Alex’s (Olivia Wilde) new punching bag could just be worth it.

Olivia Wilde

Meanwhile, Ryan, who has turned over a new leaf as a model student, gets caught in a war with the new girl in school. Before they get stuck partnering up in class, Ryan bumps into Lindsay (Shannon Lucio), spills his coffee all over her shirt, and nearly breaks her nose. It’s either an intense case of the Mondays or the most traumatic meet-cute ever.

Following Caleb’s arrest, he’s forced to vacate his position at the Newport Group, leaving the hot seats wide open for the taking. Sandy suggests appointing Kirsten as CEO, but Caleb offers few solidified decisions. Julie walks right out of her seaweed-wrap massage and into the situation room, where Sandy, Kirsten, and Caleb attempt to repair the seemingly irreparable damage. Julie wants to help with the business summit, but Caleb sends her on a food run instead. I’d trust Julie more with a board-room brainstorm than getting my In-N-Out order correct, to be honest.

“Personal growth is so painful,” Seth moans about life’s little challenges. But his real challenge is his image (and doing manual labor, for once). No, he’s no longer losing sleep over his weird loner status. He doesn’t want to be seen as selfish. And Julie, too, is getting the wake-up call that growing up—at any age—hurts.

Also aboard the personal-growth bandwagon is Ryan, who resorts to calm honesty in place of rage when faced with adversity. Lindsay, thinking Ryan was all brawn and no brains, slapped his name on what was supposed to be their joint lab report. She came to Harbor to get the best education so she could go to the best college and land the best career, and she won’t let anything stop her. Enter Ryan. He tells the teacher he didn’t contribute, and they are given another assignment to complete. Together. Because that went so well the first time.

Ryan and Lindsay

Seth and Alex have what you might call a heart-to-heart as he explains the whole “Seth Cohen Tour of Goodwill” mission he’s on for Summer. Alex, not one to bullsh-t, calls him sweet but pathetic. He gains some perspective when he learns that Alex, who’s the same age that he is, had to be selflessly selfish when her family kicked her out. She’s on her own and living for herself in a way he couldn’t fathom. He’s speechless when she leaves him with parting advice: Summer will see right through his charade.

The hits keep on coming for the Cohens when Sandy gets fired for representing Caleb. Caleb’s housing scandal has thrown his family through loops and into corners they can’t escape. Julie, almost regretfully, admits to Jimmy that she married Caleb for money and him for love—as if for her, there’s a difference between the two. The lines between love and money are once again blurred when Caleb names Julie CEO of Newport Group. Julie is over the moon, but Kirsten? Not so much.

Zach decides to forgo going to the concert with Summer to give her a chance to figure out the weirdness of her lingering connection to Seth. This brand of maturity and absence of insecurity is new territory for Summer, but reuniting with Seth at the concert sets her right back onto familiar ground. He fesses up that he got the job to get the tickets, and got the tickets to prove he can be friend material. In a crazy turn of events, she appreciates the gesture. However, it’s not enough to rewrite their past. Seth relapses to his former self and kisses Summer.

Seth’s personal growth may be stunted, but mistakes are agents of change for the rest of them. Caleb gives Kirsten the CFO position, the one that handles the money and truly runs the company; she asks for a raise. Although “not here to make friends,” Lindsay apologizes to Ryan; he reciprocates with some light flirting; Marissa sees them. Seth goes to the club to apologize to Summer, and he finds Zach charming her father.

Personal growth is important, but it can be so, so painful.

Episode Mix Tape:

  • “On the Table” by A.C. Newman
  • “Assessment” by The Beta Band
  • “Weekends” by The Perishers
  • “No Yes No” by PET
  • “Faded Beauty Queens” by The Thrills
  • “Little House of Savages” by The Walkmen
  • “Worn Me Down” by Rachel Yamagata

All four seasons of The O.C. are available to stream on CW Seed.

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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