The great thing about The O.C. is the way it turns Beverly Hills, 90210 on its head for an America in decline.com. The kids are beautiful and the parents are rich, but they’re the freaks in this prime-time dope show—true-hearted liberal avatars in sun-stifled Arnie country. The other great thing about The O.C. is the way it restores to indie rock the secret-handshake allure that year in and year out convinces high schoolers that records made for $5,000 are better than ones made for $500,000. When Seth Cohen tells Summer to step off after she tries to kill Death Cab for Cutie’s minor-key warble in the car on the way to TJ, he’s doing more than asserting his driver-side autonomy; he’s inviting us into his cozy club of shared references and values. Beyond selling turtlenecks, this of course is also the point of Christmas music, which means the third O.C. CD is even better for road trip bonding than the previous two. Jimmy Eat World cover Wham!, Low speed things up with a sleigh bell, Ron Sexsmith mumbles mush-mouthedly, and the Raveonettes dream as dispassionately as ever about trees on display—an inside joke mercifully free of a punchline.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 14, 2004