It’s been 12 years since the modern-classic teen drama The O.C. signed off, but one of its creators is revisiting the series in a way he never expected.

Josh Schwartz, one half of the creative team behind The O.C. with Stephanie Savage, is currently working on Hulu’s Looking for Alaska, an adaptation of the John Green novel. And since the YA book is set in 2005, a.k.a. right in the middle of when The O.C. was on the air, Schwartz is back in the same era he lived in for all four seasons of The O.C. And just like on The O.C., music plays a major part in setting the tone for every single character and scene in Looking for Alaska.

“We worked really hard to make sure pretty much all the music that’s in the show is from that year,” Schwartz said at the 2019 Television Critics Assn. summer press tour Friday. “It was pretty fun — I got to pull out some of my O.C. playlists that I had back in the day, music that never made it onto the show. It was like revisiting moments.”

And in a surprising move, Schwartz and Savage actually got “contemporary artists to cover music from that era as well.” Since Looking for Alaska only just wrapped its series finale the night before, Schwartz was a little foggy on specific artist and song names, but he did remember a few big ones that are sure to make anyone who grew up in the ’00s or watched The O.C. nostalgic.

THE O.C., Benjamin McKenzie, Mischa Barton, (Season 3), 2003-2007. photo: © WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection Looking For Alaska -- Episode -- Looking For Alaska is an 8-episode limited series based on the John Green novel of the same name. It centers around teenager Miles ìPudgeî Halter (Charlie Plummer), as he enrolls in boarding school to try to gain a deeper perspective on life. He falls in love with Alaska Young (Kristine Froseth), and finds a group of loyal friends. But after an unexpected tragedy, Miles and his close friends attempt to make sense of what theyíve been through. , shown. (Photo by: Alfonso Bresciani/Hulu)
Credit: Everett Collection; Alfonso Bresciani/Hulu

“We did a cover of ‘Orange Sky’ that is really beautiful,” Schwartz revealed. “We have a cover of a Franz Ferdinand [song]. ‘I Will Follow You Into the Dark,’ we have an incredible cover of that.”

And it turns out that including that specific Death Cab for Cutie song is something Schwartz has been trying to do for a very long time. “That is a song at the time that we wanted to license it for The O.C., but it was too personal to the band at that moment,” he said. “And now we were able to do it. Music that was really inspiring to us we had the opportunity to use it.”

Schwartz and Savage are basically teen drama masters at this point, from The O.C. to Gossip Girl to The Carrie Diaries and even Marvel’s Runaways. And Schwartz knows fans will find similarities between Looking for Alaska and The O.C., specifically in the main relationship between Alaska (Kristine Froseth) and Miles (Charlie Plummer). “There are definitely elements of it, themes or characters that I’m intrigued by and write about,” he said with a laugh. “The universality of what teenagers go through is timeless. You can watch John Hughes movies today and still relate to them. What’s at the core of what these characters are going through is timeless.”

All eight episodes of Looking for Alaska debut Friday, Oct. 18, on Hulu.

Related content:

Looking for Alaska (TV series)
Hulu adapts John Green’s award-winning young adult novel into an eight-episode limited series starring Charlie Plummer as Miles “Pudge” Halter and Kristine Froseth as the titular Alaska Young.
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