If you haven't noticed, there's a whole lot going down on the international scene -- I'm talking Chloe Sevigny on Vincent Gallo in "The Brown Bunny" levels. (Or perhaps you prefer "Monica Lewinsky on Bill Clinton.")
Many of us don't understand the implications of a Hamas victory in Palestine, yet we understand the consequences of Marissa Cooper answering her sister's cell phone when Johnny the Surfer calls it on "The O.C."
But maybe if we pretend the characters in "The O.C" are actually countries, then we'll understand what's going on in the world.
Welcome to the I.R., bitch. This is how it's done in International Relations:
The part of Ryan Atwood would be America. The USA is new to the scene, really a touching rags-to-riches story. He's the main character, so the decisions he makes are central to the show. He quickly became a source of power, making him a polarizing figure with the other characters. He may be rich now, but he hasn't lost his street cred -- don't piss off America, because he'll fight you quicker than a drunk, hair-gelled Q-packer at Toad's to prove it. He has a history with France, Iraq and Israel, but we'll meet them later. First we have to meet his mentor, Sandy, a.k.a Great Britain.
Great Britain is wise, he has been around the block. Consequently, he decided to take USA under his wing, even though most of the other parents hate America. Sometimes USA drags him into trouble, but only because Britain is loyal like a dog. He's not like the other parents who think pontification solves everything; he leads by doing. Britain enjoys English ale, but sometimes he'll get a taste of an Irish car bomb.
Seth Cohen is Israel, the Jewish son of Great Britain. America is his best friend and bodyguard, which gets America into lots of trouble because Israel isn't very popular at school. Sometimes America thinks if he were to drop Israel as a friend, many of America's I.R. problems would be gone.
The object of America's affection, Iraq, is Marissa Cooper. For a while, Iraq was stable, at least on the surface. But once she was penetrated by America, everything exploded. Now Iraq is a complete whack job, making everyone and everything around her unstable. She feels that her mom, France, didn't do enough to protect her. The only person who has been by her side this whole time is America, although he is fed up with her antics.
To make matters worse for Iraq, her little sister, Kaitlin Cooper a.k.a. Iran, is just plain awful. There's no other way to put it. It wasn't always this way -- she was tight with America and had a nice sibling rivalry going with Iraq. Then puberty turned her into a raging bitch … no, a bastard. If there were ever a girl that could be called a bastard, it is Iran. Immediately after puberty, she went to war with Iraq and began hating Israel and America because she knows if they aren't around she will wield much more power. Iran is doing everything she can to mess with Iraq, America, Britain, and Israel right now -- because she is socially backwards. Iran should think twice before she continues down this path, though, because in due time she will provoke the wrath of America.
Russia (Johnny the Surfer) felt he could give Iraq things that America couldn't. Unfortunately, he is a lame-ass. The guy brings nothing to the table, so in the battle for Iraq, he lost to America. In fact, he's basically America's bitch. He recently stirred things up by getting fresh with Iraq's sister, completely oblivious that Iran is just using him as a pawn in her devious scheme to rule The I.R.
Summer Roberts is Italy. Italy is the beauty who is always there to help out America and Iraq. On the surface, Italy is very different from Israel -- they have two completely different backgrounds and religions -- but they do have some similarities deep down, which is why they make a good couple.
Kiesten Cohen would be Spain. Spain was very close to Britain, America and Israel, but she went through a rough time -- after getting bombed, she withdrew and quit trying to help America's relationship with Iraq. Spain has been relatively quiet in recent episodes.
Julie Cooper (or France) used to have it all; the Queen of the Parents. Now she lives in a trailer, loathed by all. One thing she hasn't lost, though, is her arrogance. France hates America because he screwed up Iraq. She will do anything to regain her clout, which includes getting closer with people like Iran and Russia. She has also used Spain's recent vulnerability to get closer to her.
Taylor Townsend is Saudi Arabia. America and the gang are sort of forced to be friends with Saudi Arabia, but they haven't forgotten how she backstabbed them. She is probably bipolar -- she'll blow you or blow you away, depending on which Saudi Arabia decides to show up.
Last, but least, we have Canada, originally known as Chilly. Canada is one of the least important characters on the show. His main role is to be the dork everyone laughs at.
I hope this rundown of international relations will help to dispel the "ignorant American" stereotype. (I knew my poli sci major would come in handy some day.)
And if you're wondering where my vast "O.C." knowledge comes from, well, my girlfriend gave me a refresher course. Seriously, I don't Tivo every episode. I don't wish Sandy Cohen was my dad. I don't drink every time someone on the show says "Newport" or every time Seth makes a pop culture reference.