Like Mother like Daughter, like Father like Son: The Spell of Youth on “The O.C.”
This essay aims to shed light on the purposes served by parental figures in the television series The O.C. (2003-2007). For the teen-drama genre, Josh Schwartz’s creation set a new trend of intergenerational narratives and shifted the perspectives among young and adult, and female and male characters. In addition to being functional to the plot and legitimizing the problems experienced by young viewers, parental figures serve at least two additional purposes on The O.C.. First, I posit that adults act as positive and negative role models that allow Schwartz’s show to function as a cautionary tale for its young viewers. Second, I propose that subplots revolving around parents allowed the showrunner to broaden the potential audience of the series, by targeting adults in addition to teen viewers. I finally suggest that, as most of the show’s characters – parents and children alike - engage in youthful behavior, the series also seems to promote and perpetuate what sociologist Marcel Danesi has defined the “Forever Young Syndrome” – a kind of society where the generational gap is almost nonexistent and adults systematically behave, and inevitably consume, like teenagers.
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