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Marissa Cooper Is the Worst

by Lynne Rush 3 years ago in tv
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The Absolute, Literal Worst

Before Blaire was Queen B on Gossip Girl, before Zachary Levi got his super nerd on in Chuck, Josh Schwartz created one of TV’s best and worst in the history of teen drama, The O.C. It has a cast of characters that range from the charmingly witty to the cartoonishly villainous. It also features one of the most obnoxious characters in TV history, Marissa Cooper.

Marissa Cooper might be the “it girl,” dressed head to toe in designers like Marc Jacobs and Chanel, but her biggest defining characteristics are narcissism and her inability to make anything but the absolute worst decisions. She only lived through three of the four seasons of the show, but her legacy of being the absolute worst will live forever.


Marissa’s problems with alcoholism are one of her recurring negative character traits. She lives in a world where her worst problem is her mom is kind of a pain, until her dad is outed as a felon, her boyfriend is a cheater, and the adorable boy next door is from the wrong side of the tracks. She’s sheltered to the point that she cannot cope.

Her poor coping mechanisms of choice? Booze and pills. When the gang takes a trip to fabulous Tijuana, she finds out that her dad has moved out of the family home. Then, her known cheater of a boyfriend gets caught macking on some rando blonde. These things together lead Marissa to go on the mother of all benders. She ends up nearly dead and hospitalized.

Her parents try to get her back on track, but without a supportive family, which is one of the key components to recovery, she’s quickly getting hammered again. By Chrismukkah, she’s getting hammered and behind the wheel of a car, and nearly gets Ryan arrested for having an open container in the car. Train wreck, party of one.

The problem of Marissa Cooper and alcohol extends behind the show. Not only did actress Mischa Barton struggle with drugs and alcohol to the point of a total breakdown and hospitalization, she (and the show) created positive associations with overindulging for teens everywhere. TV shows aren’t always known for addressing addiction in a realistic and healthy way, but man. Way to go, Marissa.


It’s one of the first steps in the “getting attention from your parents” playbook for spoiled rich girls—steal! Nothing says I’m not getting the parental support I need like lifting a lipstick from the mall. Marissa gets caught and shipped off to therapy, which is probably the best thing they could have done for her (even if it does lead to the next train wreck on the list).

Overdosing and stealing—these are the kind of events that lead to intervention from law enforcement or social workers. Honestly, a substance abuse social worker could have saved Marissa from a whole lot of heartache (and death) by getting her proper treatment for her drinking, stealing and other kinds of acting out. If only someone, not a teenager, gave a crap.


What do you do when everyone you trust in your life tells you that your new pal is not okay, not to be trusted and definitely not safe to hang out with? If you’re Marissa Cooper, you totally keep hanging out with them until you put yourself and all of your friends in danger. From moment one, everyone in the audience knew Oliver was trouble. Marissa stubbornly refused to believe he could be a threat because, he reminded her of herself? That’s an ugly truth, Coop.

Loving Marissa ruins your life.

When sweet, wide-eyed and innocent up and coming competitive surfer boy Johnny met Marissa he was teenagerly for sure, but nothing like the depressed mess he became after being in her orbit. She encouraged his drinking and partying, led him on and eventually he got so messed up he ruined his surfing career, got drunk, fell off a cliff and died. Oliver tried to kill himself after being friend-zoned by Marissa. Trey tried to rape her when she rejected him, and she ended up shooting him. Volchek murdered her after she dumped him.

Marissa’s powers of awfulness are so profound she can ruin Chrismukkah from the afterlife. When the show tried to hilariously replace Marissa with Taylor Townsend as Ryan’s main squeeze, the two of them had an unfortunate accident and ended up in a coma where they entered another dimension — an It’s a Wonderful Life, Ryan Atwood dimension. Ryan spent the whole episode chasing after his dead girlfriend, only to find out that without him, Marissa died in TJ way back in season one. Ouch.

Thank God Marissa died before she could get her hands on season four guest star Chris Pratt. Oh well. At least she threw a fantastic poolside hissy fit.


About the author

Lynne Rush

Pop culture addict who loves books, video games, and TV.

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