Mischa Barton, renowned for her role as Marissa Cooper in the beloved teen drama series ‘The OC,’ has revisited the groundbreaking portrayal of her character’s bisexuality. The show, which aired from 2003 to 2007, remains a cultural phenomenon, celebrated for its influence on subsequent teen dramas like ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘One Tree Hill.’
In the second season of ‘The OC,’ Marissa Cooper embarked on a same-sex relationship with Alex Kelly, played by Olivia Wilde. This portrayal was a significant moment for LGBTQ representation on television. However, due to the era’s limitations, the show never explicitly referred to Marissa as bisexual, leaving her sexual identity open to debate.
Reflecting on her character, Barton shared with GAY TIMES, “I do think that [Marissa was bisexual]. That’s the thing, they were trying to write off so many of her things as ‘phases’ like her drug use and alcohol use. [Her bisexuality] was touched on but not really properly looked into. I definitely see that for Marissa.”
Barton revealed that the show’s creator, Josh Schwartz, and executive producer, Stephanie Savage, have recently acknowledged that they may not have delved deeply enough into Marissa and Alex’s feelings for each other. She explained, “They really fell for each other and were a really cute couple, but I think Josh wishes he could’ve written it a bit more in-depth.”
Despite not hearing extensively from queer fans of the show, Barton appreciates when she encounters people wearing ‘Free Marissa’ shirts, a testament to the character’s enduring impact on viewers.
Olivia Wilde, who portrayed Alex Kelly, also recognized the significance of their storyline. In a podcast interview, she shared that fans approached her on the street, crediting her character with inspiring them to come out, an honor she deeply appreciated. Reflecting on her role, Wilde stated, “I still have women coming up to tell me they started discovering their own sexuality because of ‘The OC.'”
As the entertainment landscape continues to evolve, it is crucial to celebrate and recognize the contributions of shows like ‘The OC’ in paving the way for greater LGBTQ representation on television.