Looking back on the genius of 'The Simpsons,' 'Arrested Development' & more
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10. "The O.C." (2003-07)
As I mentioned in my essay about the 25th anniversary of the FOX network, these 10 shows aren't the biggest hits in FOX history, nor even the most historically important. They're just my 10 favorite series FOX aired — some for a long time, some very briefly — over the last quarter-century. If we were doing either of those other lists, then surely "Beverly Hills 90210" would be on here ahead of its 21st century successor. But I would say at least two-thirds of my enjoyment of the gang at West Beverly was ironic, where when "The O.C." was really cooking (particularly in its first and last seasons), the pleasure I took from it in no way made me feel guilty. Here was a teen drama that managed to be simultaneously self-aware and sincere, to crack jokes about every cliché it was using even as it used them, to tug at the heartstrings even as Seth was playing with a toy horse he called Captain Oats. And though the middle years were clunky (take Johnny and Chili… please), Ryan, Seth and Summer all got their acts together for a triumphant final season of fun, heartache and more mid-'00s indie rock.
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