On ''The O.C.,'' Marissa's new public school is one big pop-culture-teen stereotype; back at Harbor, meanwhile, Summer catches archrival Taylor canoodling with the dean
Mischa Barton, The O.C.
Credit: Mischa Barton: M. Haddad/FOX
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”The O.C.”: Marissa’s so-called life

It’s always fun when The O.C. parodies itself, but even that can get old. So tonight it was great to see the show channeling other high school favorites. The outdoor hallways in Marissa’s new public school were very 90210, although the rust on the lockers provided the desired ”it’s ghetto, really” effect. Marissa’s new insta-friends reminded me of the often insufferable Saved by the Bell gang, especially with their ”we’re not going without you!” approach to the school dance and the inclusion of a geek type with a quirky name, Chili, who’s not quite as annoying as Screech, but probably will be by the next episode. His one funny line was when he told Marissa it was no good that she had a boyfriend, because he loved her. This was also very Screech, and fashion-queen Marissa is, appropriately, his Lisa Turtle.

Of course, Lisa’s colorful, geometrically nightmarish earrings are no match for Marissa’s Chanel everything. I must say, the high-end product-placement factor is through the roof this season. Last year there were mentions of Marc Jacobs here and there, but this year I’ve spotted about three Chanel logos per Mischa outfit, and tonight we had to watch Julie tearfully crumble alongside her Louis Vuitton luggage. I certainly hope the labels keep popping up even as the Coopers approach poverty. Otherwise, how will I know which brands I’m supposed to wish I had the money to buy?

Enough with the Chanel and back to the channeling: Did anyone else get a Sixteen Candles vibe during that pathetic excuse for a public-school dance? The snobby kids in the bleachers, the nerd who wouldn’t stop asking the cool girl to dance — it was all there. Marissa even ran from the gym crying and embarrassed just like Molly Ringwald, except instead of the auto shop, she had to plunk herself onto a bench almost as narrow as her in a nasty locker room. Oh, how Newport Barbie has fallen! No more Dreamhouse, but at least she still has the red Mustang as an accessory.

My favorite channeling, though, was the very My So-Called Life hallway scene right when Marissa got to school. Later, they even showed her looking around, desperate and late, just like Angela in MSCL‘s opening titles. I also feel like they’re trying to make that kid John the poor man’s Jordan Catalano. The hair’s the same, but his prop is a surfboard instead of Jordan’s skateboard and endless supply of Visine.

I guess I need to stop. It’s hard, though — the new-school scenes were the most interesting part of the hour for me. The pitting of the Fantastic Four against the new, Bizarro World insta-friends was awkward and sudden, but it should provide some good story lines. I don’t get why Marissa couldn’t have invited Ryan out to eat after school or even to the school dance. This would have been completely normal. Then again, as Seth pointed out in one of his few funny lines, home schoolers are so pathetic. Marissa better not keep abandoning Ryan in favor of New Ryan and Jessie Spano, but if she does, I bet they’ll give Old Ryan a hot female tutor so that two can play the jealousy game.

Back at Harbor, Seth and Summer officially have no friends except each other. Alarmingly, it’s seeming to work for them. Oh, big news! Taylor and Dean Wormier are an item. No one saw this coming! I am totally shocked. Okay, no, but I was shocked that Sum didn’t whip out that camera phone of hers (she had previously called camera phone pics ”the autograph of the twenty-first century”) to catch the worst couple imaginable — no, seriously, they’re gross — during their tender moment. I’m also surprised she didn’t tell Seth. Who else can she tell? I guess she could run around telling all the rooms in her huge, ridiculous mansion, but that would take all season. That house is sick. I think it’s beautiful, so I can’t make fun of it as I did with the dearly departed Taco Bell mansion. What’s a classy version of Taco Bell? Chipotle? (No. Immediate disqualification due to its association with The Real World: Austin.)

In parent land, boring, boring, something boring, and Jeri Ryan is now a con artist instead of just a stalker. I felt proud because I deemed that flower delivery man ”way too intense to be a flower delivery man” and then he ended up being her partner in sketchiness. Seven of Twelve Steps promised him she would find some way to use Kirsten. Their lunch together was eerie, mostly because I couldn’t get past how the two were sporting each other’s usual hairstyles. With wavy hair, Seven looked really different — and probably enough like Kirsten to pose an identity-theft threat in the near future, which means after postseason baseball is over. See you in November.

What do you think? Is Marissa’s so-called new life too cliché? Will Julie get back on her feet and into the designer shoes she promised her daughter? And whatever Jeri Ryan is there to do, can she please do it fast and then beat it?

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