Marissa Cooper is epic.
Played by Mischa Barton, Marissa has a mythology and iconography which is continued in some form throughout the entire series of the teen show The O.C.
The pilot for The O.C. is one of my favorite TV pilots. It pays a blatant homage to Rebel Without A Cause but without being stifled by it. I am not going to do a character to character comparison; even if one has a casual knowledge of Rebel Without A Cause the similarities are evident. I did however, find a nice little example on YouTube of one scene being compared…as well as I want to give some context of the cinematic and cultural vocabulary used by The O.C. to those unfamiliar.
Despite the cinematic similarities, Marissa Cooper ends up being more of the rebel than Ryan Atwood…and with somewhat of a cause. She is the rich but troubled girl next door. Marissa continuously is attempting to fight her own self destruction, only to break to occasionally fight some battles against world around her.. (all while being a fashion plate, and having those around her fall in love with her…) She abuses alcohol and pills. She is often saved, and sometimes does the saving. Ultimately, she needs to remove herself from role expected of her in her world……to go live on a fishing boat..but is killed in a car accident on the way to the airport.
She is an archetype, and am important one. With a few words substituted, the above paragraph could be used to describe the an icon as big as Marilyn Monroe.
We can’t see Marissa on a fishing boat, much like we couldn’t see a movie in theaters with Marilyn Monroe as a mother. Both are far too removed from the mythology we demand of them culturally. While Marissa Cooper may just be a character on canceled teen television series, fictional Marissa Cooper carries a vein with symbolic Marilyn Monroe and countless others. (*I am referring to Marilyn Monroe’s created symbolism, not her privately) She was never meant to live.. She is symbol and must continue to enact her obligatory mythic cycle….something that is not conducive with a long fulfilled life. She is the one that joins us temporarily, but leaves an impact that is lasting. The O.C. continues on for a season after Marissa is killed with the remaining characters attempting to deal with her absence.
Below I have some screencaps of part of the Marissa Cooper cycle as seen in The O.C. pilot. This cycle is repeated throughout the series both thematically and visually.
More to come of Marissa Cooper and other transient TV teens.