The potential for season five, Marissa’s death and who almost played the popular characters were all hot topics at The O.C. reunion during the ATX TV Fest Sunday.
Series creator Josh Schwartz, executive producers Stephanie Savage and Leila Gerstein and music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas were all on hand to discuss the iconic teenage soap, which ran on Fox for four seasons. When asked whether they would have done a fifth season if the ratings had been better, Savage said, “Yeah, I mean I would say after season four we were feeling like, it’s tricky to get the kids out of high school.”
She likened the situation to 90210, which sent its characters to college, but it still felt like the characters were stuck in high school. “We really didn’t want to do that,” she said.
In the end, ending the show with season four allowed the creative team to get back to the comedic side of the show, Schwartz said. “I think going into it we had a feeling it would be our final season, and so it was very freeing. We got to do a lot of things that we probably would have felt uncomfortable doing before,” he said.
The fourth season followed the shocking season three death of Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), a big point of contention among fans of the show. To that end, Schwartz said the decision to kill off the character was complicated. “There was a lot of factors involved and it was something we really wrestled with and there were reasons both creative and in terms of just the show itself and where we were at the moment with the network. There were a lot of reasons [for the death], both creative and cynical,” he explained.
“It’s something Stephanie and I still talk about,” he added. In terms of the fans’ reactions, according to him, “the people who celebrated [her death], were the most vocal,” but, he added, “We learned that if one person posts something online, it’s a one-to-one ratio, meaning that one person isn’t necessarily speaking for a thousand people.”
Shcwartz said they learned the hard way that there were plenty of fans who despised Marissa’s death, they just weren’t as vocal about it. “There were some people that were very upset, that were attached to the character. There was a lot of anger and fan art that came our way,” he explained.
Speaking of Marissa, Schwartz brought up actress Olivia Wilde, who had read for the part of Marissa originally. He said it was between her and Barton, but they ultimately went with Barton because “Marissa was obviously a character who Ryan needs to save, and Olivia Wilde needs no saving. She’s pretty tough.”
To end the discussion, Schwartz was asked where he sees the characters of Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson) now. He said the ending moments of the show should ultimately be up to each individual fan’s interpretation.
The panel was followed up by a lively reading of the script for the show’s pilot, with Tate Donovan reprising his role as Jimmy Cooper. Guest actors including Patrick J. Adams (Suits), Nick Wechsler (Revenge), Arielle Kebbel (90210) and more who rounded out the cast.