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Today in TV History: It Finally Happened; Death Cab Showed Up on ‘The O.C.’

Where to Stream

The O.C.

Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone. 

IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: April 21, 2005

PROGRAM ORIGINALLY AIRED ON THIS DATE: The O.C., “The O.C. Confidential” (Season 2, Episode 20) [Stream on Amazon Video]

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Better than any show of its era — and really any 21st century show besides Glee — The O.C. really capitalized on music to forge a connection with its teen audience. The show became such a fast sensation and burned so brightly for such a short period of time that The O.C. not only describes a TV show but also a micro-genre of music, the emo-pop sound that characterized the mid-2000s with bands like Rooney, Modest Mouse, and The Killers. But more than any other band, Death Cab for Cutie defined The O.C., and The O.C. defined them, all through the character of Seth Cohen.

The O.C. was incredibly smart and perceptive about the way that teens define themselves through their pop culture tastes and obsessions, and no one embodied that more than Seth, whose obsessions with comic book superheroes, his favorite docu-soap “The Valley,” and especially emo bands formed the exact kind of outsize percentage of his personality as befits a high school boy. Death Cab was always Seth’s number one, though, becoming as synonymous with the character as Davy Jones was with Marcia Brady. So when the second season of The O.C. introduced the Bait Shop, a live music venue for visiting rock acts who wanted to capitalize on The O.C.‘s popularity, it was only a time before Death Cab showed up.

Watching “The O.C. Confidential” now, you almost want to swat away Ryan and Marissa and whatever dumb drug subplot they’re working on. Just get out of the way and let Seth (and Summer, she can stay) enjoy “The Sound of Settling” in peace for five literal minutes.

Popularity is a fickle beast, and neither Death Cab nor The O.C. stayed in the zeitgeist for long. But in a way, because of their mutual obsession for each other, there’s a degree of immortality for both entities. Death Cab’s music defined The O.C.The O.C. defined Death Cab, and they both defined the sliver of time that was the middle of the Aughts.

Where to stream The O.C.

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