Holiday: New Year's Eve
Episode: Season 1, Episode 14
What comes to mind when you think of The O.C.'s most iconic moment? For most it's Luke welcoming Ryan to Newport with a nice right hook. [Bitch!] For others, maybe it's Ryan carrying a near-catatonic Marissa to safety in a Tijuana alley. But the show's defining moment, as far as I'm concerned? It's Ryan racing up an endless flight of stairs to the penthouse, scored to the dulcet sounds of Finley Quaye's "Dice."
It's New Year's Eve. Girl-next-door extraordinaire Marissa Cooper is in said penthouse, and she's feeling choosy and Ryan knows it. And who can blame her, when dude spent the entire episode bricking the crucial "I love you" moment. In a rare occasion, Seth Cohen's Danny Glover drama (you know, twooo womennn) takes a backseat to Ryan and Marissa—it might even take a backseat to Cool Parents™ Sandy and Kirsten, who flee to a swingers party out of fear that their marriage needs spicing.
Guiding each storyline are two of the series best guests: the villainous Oliver Trask, who declared himself Public Enemy Fuccboi #1 the minute he taught Marissa how to drink a "mo-hee-tow," and Kirsten's smoking hot younger sister, Hailey, an equally impactful troublemaker who throws what's easily the show's most "this would be amazing IRL" banger. (I can still hear Summer Roberts adage that the way you spend New Year's Eve dictates the way you'll spend the rest of your year ringing in my head every December 31st.)
The most relevant New Year episode across all of television? You bet. But forget holiday themes—this is The O.C.'s best episode, hands down. —Frazier Tharpe