The O.C.

TV review by
Common Sense Media Editors, Common Sense Media
The O.C. TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Sex, drugs, and designer labels rule.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 36 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

There are fist fights, drug taking, homosexual slurs, friends leaving friends drunk on the sidewalk -- nothing you'd want your kids doing. But bad behavior is shown to have bad consequences, and kids learn from thier mistakes and the mistakes of their friends -- and flawed parents.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The strong, loving Cohen family is the heart of the show. Dad Sandy Cohen is a public defender who makes a shaky transition into corporate law, but in his heart he remains someone who fights for the underdog. That's why he invites down-and-out delinquent Ryan to come live with him and become a sort of brother to his son, Seth Cohen. Sandy also manages to find a good compromise and/or the moral path in nearly every episode. And he is a great communicator who never stops reaching out to kids when they're in trouble. The friends in Seth and Ryan's crowd are also generally loyal to each other and go to great lengths to help one another out.


There are fist fights and verbal threats.


Shirtless guys, talk of hooking up, sex on the brain, bodies on the beach.


"Bitch" is the favorite word.


Designer labels and thing-lust permeate most episodes. Now the show has put its name on clothes, music, and perfume, too.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

High schoolers shown drinking heavily, smoking pot, snorting coke, and -- oh yeah -- drinking so much that the sympathetic main character is deposited on her front walk passed out cold. Over the top and really irresponsible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a show full of teen drinking, drugging, fighting, sex, and angst. A single episode dealt with fallout from a shooting, included scenes in a rehab facility, and showcased the usual melodramatic relationships and smooching we've come to expect from evening soaps. The characters try to escape the consequences of their actions and get away with as much as they can. If your kids behaved the way these teens do, you'd be really worried about their values.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysra_timberlake07 April 9, 2008

This show rocks my socks!!

OMG!!! I love The O.C. It is funny. Most people will say that it isn't realistic, but most, if not all, of the problems that exist on The O.C. exist in hig... Continue reading
Adult Written bysteeno32 April 9, 2008


I live in Orange County, California, and this program just gives it a bad name. There isn't a whole load of drunk kids lying on the sidewalks and criminals... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byTorToe April 9, 2008

Fun for older kids....

This show has been the root of a lo of contrversey in my house. I love the show and I like watching it with my mom but, my father is very religious and many of... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byavas18 August 20, 2020

A work of art

This show is amazing and so entertaining. So many characters serve as amazing role models. Ryan will do anything to protect his loved ones, despite facing conse... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE O.C. clearly owes its origins to the long-running Beverly Hills 90210. And then it goes on steroids. At the center of much of it are Ryan (Ben McKenzie), the handsome boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and geeky Seth (Adam Brody), but don't think the plot is anything more than interstitial tissue holding together sex scenes, drug scenes, and fashion obsessions.

Is it any good?

This series makes no apologies for its spoiled-rich-kids setting. But the show is unbelievably popular, picking up where David Kelly's Boston Public left off with kids pushing the envelope of acceptable or responsible behavior. Even though the script is well written, it's throbbingly unoriginal. But that probably doesn't matter if you're a teen looking out at the world wondering where the edges are.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about safe sex, sex for favors, the consequences of drinking and acting out. Since teens are watching, we strongly recommend that you watch with them and ask them if their friends are doing what these kids on the screen are. Try to put your two cents in about what's realistic and what isn't. A reality check is required for kids absorbed in this popular sensation.

TV details

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