The O.C.: Season 1 (2003 - 2004)

SEASON:

Season 1
The O.C.

Critics Consensus

Even though it lacks an original take on teen angst, The O.C. functions well enough for its target audience, churning plenty of soap storylines out of a talented cast.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Critic Ratings: 28

86%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 118

You might also like

Rate And Review

User image

Verified

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this season

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of this tv season? (optional)



  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Step 2 of 2

    How did you buy your ticket?

    Let's get your review verified.

    You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this season

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of this tv season? (optional)

  • How did you buy your ticket?

Episodes

Air date: Aug 5, 2003

The initial seven-week "test run" of The O.C. starts with a bang in this debut episode. The main focus is on Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie), a tough, trouble-prone teen who has been arrested for stealing a car and thrown out of his Chino home, seemingly headed inexorably toward a life of crime. Sensing that the boy has the potential for good if only given a chance, idealistic pro bono public defender Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher) invites Ryan to move into the pool house of the Cohen family's fashionable home, located in the wealthy Newport Beach district of Orange County, CA. Although Sandy's social-climbing ex-beauty-queen wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), is upset by Ryan's presence, the young visitor finds a friend and kindred spirit in the Cohens' intellectual loner son, Seth (Adam Brody). Before long, Ryan has met his extremely attractive next-door neighbor Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton). Unfortunately, he also has a nasty run-in at an O.C. fundraiser after-party with Marissa's jealous boyfriend, Luke Ward (Chris Carmack), the fallout from which threatens to condemn Ryan to the living hell of the foster-care system. "Welcome to the O.C., Bitch!"

View Details
Air date: Aug 12, 2003

Faced with the likelihood of being sent to a foster home, Ryan (Ben McKenzie) runs away from the Newport Beach home of the Cohens, planning to ultimately escape to Texas. Actually, he gets no farther than an uncompleted building project, a "model home" conceived by Seth's mother, Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan). Seth (Adam Brody) and Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) dedicate themselves to concealing Ryan from the authorities, and they form a bond of friendship when they see Kirsten secretly meet with and loan 100,000 dollars to Marissa's financially floundering father, Jimmy (Tate Donovan). Unfortunately, Marissa's jealous boyfriend, Luke (Chris Carmack), is in no mood to cooperate -- and by the time this episode comes to a climax, the audience has borne witness to a cataclysmic conflagration...and two arrests.

View Details
Air date: Aug 19, 2003

After his model-home hiding place has gone up in flames, Ryan (Ben McKenzie) ends up back in juvenile hall -- and, inevitably, Sandy (Peter Gallagher) shows up to plead Ryan's case. Back in Newport, Sandy's wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), must deal with the unbridled anger of her son (and Ryan's new best friend), Seth (Adrien Brody); and the community is "invaded" by Ryan's unreliable mother, Dawn (Daphne Ashbrook) -- who, despite repeated promises to her son, has gone back to binge-drinking and gambling. Also, the financial secrets between the Cohens and the Coopers are brought to the forefront during "Casino Night" in the O.C.

View Details
Air date: Aug 26, 2003

As Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan) agree to take full legal responsibility for the troubled Ryan (Ben McKenzie), Newport's most prominent (and most attractive) young ladies prepare for the annual cotillion. Marissa (Mischa Barton) stage-manages matters so that Ryan will escort the lovely Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong), while Seth (Adam Brody) is slated to escort his dream girl, Summer (Rachel Bilson) -- good news for him, if not for her. Elsewhere, Sandy expresses dismay over the 100,000-dollar loan extended by Kirsten to Marissa's father (and Kirsten's former boyfriend), Jimmy (Tate Donovan), who is currently the target of a fraud investigation.

View Details
Air date: Sep 2, 2003

Unwilling to be totally dependent upon the generosity of Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan), Ryan (Ben McKenzie) takes a job at the crab shack. Emboldened not only by his newfound independence but also by a steady paycheck, Ryan feels the time is ripe to ask next-door neighbor Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) for a date. Unfortunately, trouble looms in the form of Ryan's co-worker Donny (Paul Wasilewski), another product of the mean streets (of Corona, a city near Chino) -- and a person who fascinates the Cohens' sensitive son, Seth (Adam Brody). And in the ongoing intrigue (financial and otherwise) between the Cohens and the Coopers, Sandy has bad news for Jimmy (Tate Donovan), while Kirsten uncovers a secret long held by Jimmy's wife, Julie (Melinda Clarke).

View Details
Air date: Sep 9, 2003

Alan Dale makes his first series appearance as Caleb Nichol, the wealthy, manipulative father of troubled Newport matron Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan). Caleb sets the Cohen household on its ear when he introduces his new and extremely young girlfriend, Gabrielle (Nichole Hiltz), who may well put Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) in the uncomfortable position of having to refer to a 24-year-old woman as "Grandma." As for Kirsten's lawyer husband, Sandy (Peter Gallagher), he is becoming more and more nostalgic for his "old," pre-Newport lifestyle. Next door at the Coopers, Jimmy (Tate Donovan) faces losing his wife and his job in one fell swoop, while Jimmy's ex-to-be Julie (Melinda Clarke) begins cozying up to the redoubtable Caleb. In other developments, Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) tries to choose between Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Luke (Chris Carmack). And is Summer (Rachel Bilson) really interested in Seth or is she just playing games?

View Details
Air date: Sep 16, 2003

As several of the younger O.C.ers plan an end-of-summer trip to Tijuana, Sandy Cohen (Adam Brody) takes a new legal job that disturbs his social-climbing wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) -- who in turn must now fend off her suddenly amorous neighbor Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan). The sojourn into Mexico swings from delightful to disturbing when Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) finds out about her parents' divorce and learns the whole truth about her boyfriend, Luke (Chris Carmack), all at once. A near-tragedy results when Marissa tries to "solve" her troubles in an extremely dangerous fashion.

View Details
Air date: Oct 29, 2003

Resuming its first-season run after a six-week hiatus, The O.C. picks up shortly after the disastrous "vacation" in Tijuana. As Marissa (Mischa Barton) recovers from her drug overdose, her mother, Julie (Melinda Clarke), accuses Ryan (Ben McKenzie) of causing Marissa's pain -- oblivious to the fact that it was Julie's divorce from Jimmy (Tate Donovan), along with Marissa's boyfriend Luke's (Chris Carmack) betrayal, that set Marissa off. Meanwhile, Ryan's "foster father," Sandy (Peter Gallagher), is faced with a daunting workload at his new job, and Sandy's wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), is none too thrilled with her husband's co-worker Rachel Hoffman (Bonnie Somerville). As the episode draws to a close, Ryan's fall enrollment in Newport's prestigious Harbor High School is placed in jeopardy, not least by the school's highly judgmental dean, Dr. Kim (Rosalind Chao); and Marissa faces the likelihood of being sent away from the O.C. permanently.

View Details
Air date: Nov 5, 2003

Gossip buzzes like a swarm of bees on the first day back at Harbor High School. Thanks largely to his vindictive rival Luke (Chris Carmack), new student Ryan (Ben McKenzie) feels like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Ultimately, Marissa (Mischa Barton) is forced to choose between Ryan and Luke, and her decision may spark yet another punch-fest. Meanwhile, Summer (Rachel Bilson) feigns indifference to Seth (Adam Brody), and as a consequence may lose him to Anna (Samaire Armstrong). And outside the walls of the school, Sandy's (Peter Gallagher) newest legal case threatens to cause friction between his wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), and her father, Caleb.

View Details
Air date: Nov 12, 2003

Although they still intend to "play it slow" romance-wise, Ryan (Ben McKenzie) and Marissa (Mischa Barton) prepare for their first real date. Meanwhile, Summer (Rachel Bilson) continues to play coy with Seth (Adam Brody), driving him ever closer to Anna (Samaire Armstrong). And Seth's mother, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), wonders if husband Sandy (Peter Gallagher) is seeing another woman. A great deal is ultimately revealed -- if not resolved -- during a lavish O.C. charity event.

View Details
Show More Episodes

The O.C.: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Critic Reviews for The O.C. Season 1

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (20)

The O.C. doesn't pretend to be something it's not... But it speaks the truth in terms of the dynamic between teens and their parents and teens with teens.

Sep 18, 2018 | Full Review…

[It] looks like it'll hit the mark with the young target audience, and this early-summer start will help generate buzz, as it did when 90210 took off.

Jan 29, 2015 | Full Review…

The O.C. stands for a not-too-shabby soap opera with honest-to-goodness screenwriting and actors.

Jan 29, 2015 | Full Review…

Most of all, The O.C. presents a father figure who is decent, smart and generous. Gallagher embodies those qualities with ease -- he's the kind of father that television sorely needs.

Jan 29, 2015 | Full Review…

Mostly it takes a paint-by-numbers approach to drama, laying out a predictable story in an unimaginative way, putting the greatest priority on filling the screen with chiseled faces and well-toned bodies.

Sep 2, 2020 | Full Review…

Encumbered by a script that is nearly breathtaking in its imbecilic banality, "The O.C." makes one long for the cold comforts of a sleazy-minded "reality" show.

Jan 29, 2015 | Full Review…

The O.C.'s primary appeal is its implausibility, which offers respite from the moral swamp of reality TV. It's okay for fictional characters to be ridiculous and tacky.

Mar 31, 2020 | Full Review…

Fox returns to teen drama with a remastered mix of the classics.

Mar 31, 2020 | Full Review…

There's nothing not to like about the people of The O.C.

Mar 31, 2020 | Full Review…

At its best, this was a guilty pleasure that managed to transcend the whole guilty pleasure entertainment it delivered by virtue of its wit and charm. Thanks to strong performances and very lovable characters, it's a show that's a pleasure to revisit.

Sep 18, 2018 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

Even though the script is well written, it's throbbingly unoriginal. But that probably doesn't matter if you're a teen looking out at the world wondering where the edges are.

Sep 18, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

There's little else that could make this hit Fox series any sudsier than it already is.

Sep 18, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The O.C.: Season 1

  • Apr 27, 2021
    The OC Season 1 is a master class in genre reinvention with some of the most satisfying story arcs of any series of its ilk -- perfectly executed from pilot to finale.
  • Apr 10, 2021
    One of the best teen dramas of all time.
  • Nov 13, 2020
    A balanced and cohesive Season of The O.C, the serie' family drama has a taste for more.
  • Jan 19, 2019
    So my review dissapeared but a gave this a 3.75-4/5. really liked this season
  • Nov 05, 2017
    The characters are boring and make their interpreter seem silly, mainly the stereotyped Summer, the plot is predictable, the story is unoriginal and formulaic. I absolutely don't remember anything good to say about this show. Definitly stop watching after this unnecessary stupid season.
  • Jul 24, 2017
    One minute this show is jam packed with emotion and originality, the next moment it is just the opposite. It is better than many "teenager shows" with its memorable cast and their performances, but it is also one of those shows that starts off strong and loses its fire in the later seasons.
  • Jul 12, 2017
    Although it's gets cheesy and isn't exactly original, it's easy to become addicted to and binge watch. The acting is pretty good, and even when it's a bit too dramatic, it's still more watchable than most teen shows today.
  • Apr 17, 2017
    The O.C.-one of the best shows ever and forever, and that’s why: not only is it an encouraging, positive show that lifts you up when you need to watch something to forget the world and its cruelty, it does so without being destructive/not at the cost of other people/values. There is no clumsy, obvious affirmative action (which is always reverse racism underneath), there is no bashing of Europeans/non-Americans for the sake of a nasty political agenda/clumsy propaganda, there is no twisting of historical facts (especially European ones), no turning European legends into villains and so on. And yet, it is a thrilling, entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking show – yes, it can be done, and it can be done successfully and artfully. True, there have been shows about teenagers in rich neighborhoods before, true, there have been shows about unlike couplings/brothers. There have been shows about noble criminals and teenage romance. But this show unites it all in a unique and charming way, and adds a lot of heart and soul and smartness. This is not just a dumb teenie/romance/hypocritical family show, these are beautifully written, round (and perfectly cast) characters with heart and wits – entertaining and educating at the same time (without being overly didactic). This is the show I would recommend to parents to show their kids in order to show them how to behave in the world. A truly uplifting, funny and also instructive show – for viewers and writers alike, this is how it is done, you can entertain/be entertained without violence and xenophobia. A plus!!
  • Mar 06, 2016
    The Cast is brilliant .
  • Sep 03, 2015
    Like the end of season 1 and from what I've read online, I think I should stop watching further and consider it a series finale.

News & Features