Despite being an actual 17-year-old the year it premiered, I didn’t catch even a minute of The O.C. until 2016. Now that I’m up to speed on what was cool 13 years ago, I have some thoughts. I am totally with you all on your ages-old Seth Cohen obsession—some of his jokes haven’t aged well, but I’m mostly here for those sad boy indie jams and Adam Brody’s baby face smirk. But most importantly, The O.C. was always a show about breakfast—so much to the point that this this video exists, in which the cast is interviewed about their favorite breakfast cereals. The kitchen is the most-used room in the Cohen house and if there’s a scene happening in it, it’s almost certainly over breakfast.
And, outside of the house, if Seth, Ryan, Summer, and Marissa are at a restaurant that’s not the Crab Shack, odds are they’re eating pancakes at the local diner.So follow this guide to eating breakfast like a Cohen. (As a general rule: When in doubt, stick to carbs. In the Cohen household, fresh fruit is constantly available but almost never eaten.)
Sandy Cohen: Oh, Sandy. The patriarch of the household isn’t always the breadwinner (pun intended) but this public defender really loves his bagels. Grab a baker’s dozen—preferably of the sesame or salt variety. Just bring lots of cream cheese, either way.
Kirsten Cohen: Kirsten starts out as the level-headed mom who doesn’t want to take in a troubled teen in the pilot, but somehow ends up drunk driving and destroying a car two seasons later. Is it toward the end of season two and the tempting romantic interest outside of your marriage has just left the show? Time for your heavy-handed alcoholism storyline! Dress up that morning Bloody Mary like some regular tomato juice until your husband eventually notices. Otherwise, stick to eggs and toast.
Seth Cohen: Age-appropriate dreamboat Adam Brody Adorkable teen Seth Cohen is first introduced to us eating cereal, but later we see him join in on the bagel game. The general consensus seems to be that he’s happy with whatever kind of sugary cereal can be found in the pantry, along with a mug of coffee.
Ryan Atwood: Make breakfast like the would-be car thief with a heart of gold, who had the misfortune of growing up in (gasp) Chino. Just fry up some bacon and eggs to make amends with Mama Cohen when you, say, indirectly get her son mixed up in one of those classic O.C. teen brawls in the very first episode.
Hailey Nichol: An unofficial Cohen, Hailey is Kirsten’s ne’er-do-well sister who comes and crashes in season one to flirt uncomfortably with Ryan. We know we’re supposed to dislike her because she always eats the last bagel and never makes more coffee.
Here for you now is a bonus round, in which we run down the best three breakfast scenes of The O.C.:
Season One, Episode Seven: Seth and Summer end up in a diner together while on a doomed road trip to Mexico. They aren’t dating, but they’re splitting the paper and sharing toast and coffee like an old married couple until they suddenly realize that’s how they look.
The pilot: The first time we ever see Seth, it’s a Saturday morning and he’s playing a video game with an empty cereal bowl and a carton of orange juice. Upon meeting Ryan, he asks if he wants to play, and Ryan grabs a spoon. There’s nothing like bonding with a car thief over some Grand Theft Auto and frosted flakes.
Season Two, Episode Seven: Marissa’s dad decides to peace out on the family and go live in Maui, and Marissa is understandably upset. At the end of the episode, Marissa brings a bag of bagels to the Cohen house to get some support from a chosen family. It’s pretty cute.