“Never Been Marcused”
September 8th, 2008
Late last week, as anyone following my Twitter feed may have found out, I received in the mail a recent impulse purchase. The Complete Series box set of The O.C. was waiting for me at the post office, and with it came a lot of memories and, ultimately, a sudden impulse that resulted in finishing off the show’s first season, and starting the second, over the weekend.
I mention this because there’s always a lot of talk when any teen dramas are premiering, or airing, about how they compare with The O.C., now considered the seminal comparison point for any teen soap opera of this generation. Having just completed what it considered the show’s crowning achievement (its first season), I can confirm that it lives up to this title: while the central, most soap operatic moments are perhaps worse for wear compared to my recollection, the ancillary elements (The Parents, the less traditional romance of Seth and Summer, the humour and quippiness) are so strong that it’s hard not to hold other shows up to that standard.
And I spend so much time talking about this standard because “Never Been Marcused” was cribbed almost entirely from The O.C.’s own transition from summer to fall. I won’t attempt to accuse Stephanie Savage from plagiarizing herself, but I will say that she certainly has taken the lessons learned there to heart. The comparison is not a negative one: while obviously different in tone, the events we see here are smart in the same way The O.C. was smart, creating various entanglements that have dramatic potential for the future.
The real difference is that Gossip Girl is a show about scandal, a show where these events will be less introspective than they are fodder for our narrator and her incessant appetite for these types of affairs. This isn’t to say that it’s a lesser show by default, but it means that it’s shooting for another audience: one that includes me, definitely, but not one was diverse and inclusive as perhaps Schwartz’s original series to which this episode owes much of its plotting.