Even the show's subtleties are on target. Anyone who has been around a teenage girl lately can hear the exact same uses and inflections of a single syllable—"Ew!"—employed so brilliantly and with such Thai-language flexibility by Bilson. There are also idealistic and ashamedly wealthy professionals —especially in Corona del Mar—such as defense attorney with a heart of gold Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher, in need of a comb). Combine all this with snappy dialogue and one of those goddamn theme songs you can't get out of your head with even with the help of an exorcist (Phantom Planet's "California"), and it's no wonder The O.C. is a hit.
Yes, Newport Beach also has soccer moms and churchgoers and people who love their dogs. Good or bad, Newport Beach certainly does not represent all of Orange County's 436 communities. But as much as someone in, say, La Palma might protest that he's nothing like the people in The O.C., one must concede that Newport Beach is Orange County's political, cultural and charitable center. The county's richest and most powerful don't live at Disneyland, after all. They're big fans of Euro Disney.
Newport Beach has a unique aura that's as genuine as its magnificent coastline and as addictive as meth. For better and worse, that's what is flashed on television screens across America every Wednesday night at 9.