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Summer (Rachel Bilson) and Marissa (Mischa Barton). Image from

Fair warning, there will be spoilers in this post, so if you have not watched the show the entire way through proceed with caution!

The O.C. debuted in 2003 and showed us the lives of the wealthy inhabitants of the beautiful Orange County, California. It is told primarily through the eyes of Ryan, an outsider from Chino who ends up living with the Cohen family. What initially hooked me on the show was the glamour and privilege that the characters all had; it was a world away from my life in the Irish countryside that’s for sure! I’ll also be honest, on watching it as a 14 year old I was more interested in the male characters (everyone was e ither Team Ryan or Team Seth). However, on re-watching the series a couple of years ago I related more to the female characters.

From the beginning of the show the friendship between Marissa and Summer shows how opposites attract. Both girls enjoy partying but while Summer is a fun time girl Marissa takes things to the extreme, she is a little darker and takes things further. We see the strength of their friendship for the first time on their trip to Tijuana. When Marissa’s boyfriend cheats on her with her friend Summer sticks up for, when Marissa’s mother tries to send her away Summer tries to stop her. Summer also encourages her to go to therapy in order to deal with her problems. When their respective relationships end the two help each other get over their broken hearts by spending their summer together. Throughout the up and down nature of their love lives the two girls are each other’s support system.

The strength of their friendship is perhaps most evident in the aftermath of Marissa’s death. Summer is a completely changed person, she no longer enjoys shopping, she doesn’t get her hair done and her belief system is completely altered. Losing her best friend has a major impact on every aspect of her life and it takes her a very long time to recover. In all likelihood she probably never did but she learned to adjust to the life she has now without her best friend.

The quality of the storylines in the show dwindled towards the end but one thing that never changed was the bond between Marissa and Summer. From dealing with divorce to boy drama to graduating from high school the two were always there for each other.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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