"You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello"
I may not have been a fan of The O.C. during its run, but it certainly grew on me - the characters, some of their storylines, and the fanaticism that drove several people I know to watch it almost religiously. It became an indelible part of pop culture in every sense it could, by not only reflecting a certain intellectual teenage angst and need for soapy drama while also eventually shaping the culture that birthed it itself.
I like tonight's ending. Coming full circle was the theme, with the lives and milestones for the characters we've come to know, shake our heads at, hold hands with, and love moving forward in so many wonderful, beautiful, and natural yet still surprising and unexpected ways. Seth and Summer go their separate ways to find themselves, only to return to one another for a magical wedding that everyone felt was coming, but wasn't sure about because this is prime time television and writers and networks almost never give any real closure or make any real sense with a lot of things. Julie Cooper chooses to "marry" and commit to herself by pursuing the college degree she'd never achieved while letting herself and her family love her and each other. The Cohens move back to Berkeley, to the home that has apparently "been theirs" (emotionally speaking) all along, and to a "normal" life and a growing family. And last, but not least, Ryan leaves Newport, goes to college, and makes something of himself (maybe with Taylor, maybe without) - only to grow up and eventually pay it forward when he sees himself in the face of a troubled youth on the sidewalk. The O.C. was a journey built and seen through Ryan's eyes and it is supremely fitting and satisfying for the journey to refocus itself with him and what new, yet familiar paths he will choose to take.
Very rarely does a series ending episode strive to leave viewers with closure, understanding, belief and acceptance. By giving us a sneak peek at a sort of dual epilogue and introduction into our characters' lives, the writers, network, and actors showed us that they truly understand what the entire show is all about - love, laughter, living, and the people who we choose to share it all with. Hats off to that. We've seen their journey; now it's our turn.