Farewell to The OC, bitch: best teen show for years?

Thu 19 Apr 2007 02.30 EDT

Sarah Hughes, the Observer's digital TV previewer, waves The OC off into the California sunset:

So this is it then. On Tuesday night on E4 we'll say our final farewells to Seth, Ryan and Summer as The OC heads off into the sunset with one last party/all out fight as the best teen show for years comes to an end.

Or rather rewind because The OC hasn't really been a decent guilty pleasure since its first season.

It started with a flurry of fisticuffs and the immortal phrase, 'Welcome to The OC, bitch' but it will end with the core four reduced to an increasingly futile three, following a series of plots that ranged from the ridiculous (Ryan cage fighting to get over Marissa's death) to the humdrum (the endless weeks dedicated to trying to make us care about Marissa's equally irritating sister Kaitlin) and was guilty of almost entirely wasting the talents of Autumn Reeser who played Taylor.

Brief pause to consider how much better a show The OC would have been had Ms Reeser been in it from the beginning instead of the non-acting Mischa Barton.

Yet, for all its final collapse, there were moments when The OC was worth the fanfare. Yes, yes it was just a teen soap opera (albeit one with a perhaps surprisingly large audience both teenage and adult) and yes, I know, there are many better dramas out there but The OC was the show that got closest to the spirit of the late, great Aaron Spelling.

It recognised that it was a shallow, silly, sudsy pleasure, that any scene could be improved by the addition of a party (followed by an inevitable punch up) and that the point of a beautiful cast was to subsequently put them through drink and drugs hells as their relationships continuously crashed and burned.

In this, like its forerunner, Beverly Hills 90210, The OC was television as Schadenfreude. These people might wallow in wealth, have fabulous clothes and live in ever-sunny California but they still suffered. On a daily basis. Usually because of their own stupid decisions.

You just can't beat escapist TV like that - small wonder that British teenagers took to watching it communally and propelled the bands featured on its soundtrack (including Death Cab for Cutie and Super Furry Animals) towards the top ends of the charts.

And, as if the chance to watch Californian teens mess their lives up to the sounds of Welsh psychedelia wasn't enough of a draw, then let us consider the three great things The OC did give us:

Seth Cohen's droll soliloquies delivered with all the dry wit of Jewish boy inexplicably stuck in California.

The fabulous scheming of Julie Cooper, who shared Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter's passions for both bitching and marriage.

And last but certainly not least the return of Peter Gallagher's eyebrows to prime time. Where they belong even if that might not be entirely true of the rest of the cast.

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