Unrealistic Dating Depictions in Fiction: The O.C. (or how a grand gesture will win the affections of the women you desire)

Unrealistic Dating Depictions in Fiction: The O.C. (or how a grand gesture will win the affections of the women you desire)

Think back to 2004 (those of you old enough to remember it – which I hope is all of you). The O.C. took the world by storm. It had hot women, hot men, a juicy social setting, the rich, the (ridiculously good looking) poor. More than anything, it tapped into the thinking of an entire generation. The hot but not so smart kids could relate to Marissa, the poor kids could rally behind Ryan and the oppressed nerds were given hope by the ironic coolness of uber nerd Seth Cohen. Seth F$*king Cohen.

It was TV’s equivalent of Lady Gaga – incredibly mainstream but somehow able to masquerade as ‘indie’ because they played Jeff Buckley at the end of the first episode. The youth of the time (and the present day’s Pantsless Bears and Bearesses) saw it as the show that defined them. Until it completely jumped the shark within a season, killed Mischa Barton (because she quit) and imploded just in time for the end of its fourth season.

It is now clear to me that this show is responsible for single handedly ruining the dating lives of a generation for the last 11 years. And no prizes for guessing how it did it – Seth F$*king Cohen.

Seth is the ultimate nerd. A massive mummy’s boy, sci-fi obsessed, marginalised by the jocks and utterly fixated on one of the hot popular girls at school. To the extent he has named his boat after her. Summer is known for sleeping around and doesn’t want a bar of Seth (all good so far). Inexplicably, she begins to show signs of attraction towards him, after his foster brother Ryan (played by an actor who couldn’t be more wooden if he was a chair) starts dating Marissa, despite Seth’s creepy stalkerish obsession with her and the fact basically the entire eligible male population of the school would happily spend an evening between the sheets with her at a moment’s notice.

So when she cools on him and it doesn’t really look like it’s on anymore, Seth does what any reformed Bear knows instinctively is social suicide – THE GRAND GESTURE. In front of half the school (and in front of several jocks who ask whether Seth is ‘bothering her’) Seth stands on a bench, informs Summer he is ‘scared’ (que?) and puts it all on the line. Instead of

  • running away crying
  • calling school security
  • instructing the nearest jock to beat the crap out of him

she stands on the table and announces her love for him.

The entire union between nerd and jock chick is ridiculous in the first place (not to mention that as soon as they were together she was retconned from the school tramp to scrupulous virgin) but the idea that, once things had cooled down a bit, a GRAND GESTURE would be what would set things back on course has stuck. It ignited a fire in the mind of every Bear who doesn’t quite get that if it doesn’t seem like it’s on, it’s probably not on. And in the last ten years, every self-loathing nerd who watched the OC learned the following lesson: If the trail goes cold in your attempt to win the heart of a woman, all can be salvaged with a GRAND GESTURE.

Bears we are aware of have subsequently, when they’ve caught a whiff of their desired partner not being that keen on them:

  • attempted to change their relationship status on Facebook to ‘in a relationship’, only for the status update to be rejected and the Bear unfriended
  • started calling girls that won’t return their texts or calls their ‘girlfriend’
  • announced in front of friends and family that a girl was their ‘girlfriend’ (only to see said girl run out of the house in tears);
  • bought lavish gifts
  • proposed (in front of friends and family)
  • proposed in front of the nation on live TV.

And an entire generation of Bear has been subjected to (often public) humiliation, rather than the ritual embarrassment of being told the girl just doesn’t feel that way, because of Seth F$!king Cohen.

Seth’s GRAND GESTURE can be viewed below. If you have any other GRAND GESTURES you’ve seen, please let us know.