The first episode of Looking for Alaska opens with a car crash—and though it’s been 13 years since the season three finale of The OC, I immediately thought of Marissa Cooper. José González’s “Crosses” (featured during Caleb’s funeral on The OC) is the first song played in this new adaptation of John Green’s book of the same name, and as soon as it hit my ears I became hypnotized by Josh Schwartz’s 2005 nostalgia-bait.
If you watched and loved The OC, you likely regard creator and producer Schwartz as a long lost friend. I started watching Looking for Alaska after hearing that Schwartz was responsible for adapting it into an eight-episode series on Hulu. As a obsessee of The OC and its accompanying soundtrack, the news that the show would feature many of the same artists (and even songs) had me completely sold.
Looking for Alaska is different from The OC in a lot of ways: The series is about the have-nots rather than the haves, Miles (the male protagonist) reads James Joyce and Oscar Wilde instead of comic books, and the show is based at an Alabama boarding school rather than California’s Newport Beach. But the similarities can’t be ignored: The script is delightfully cheesy at moments, Alaska is a beautiful but tortured Marissa-esque character, and much of the plot is centered around the companionship between four core characters.
In fact, while watching this weekend, I noticed a few key scenes that perfectly lock up with my old friends on the west coast. If you haven’t started Looking for Alaska yet, keep an eye out for these nostalgic nods to The OC as you watch. (And rest assured the below doesn’t contain any real spoilers, since I haven’t even finished watching the series yet myself!)
When Miles Sees Alaska for the First Time
Miles first sees Alaska as his parents are driving to drop him off at Culver Creek school. She’s putting something into the boot of her car and turns just in time for him to lock eyes with her through the car’s window. It’s almost shot-for-shot the same as the moment in The OC’s pilot when Sandy is driving Ryan back to Chino and he sees Marissa standing at the end of her driveway. What! A! Scene!
When the Cotillion Ball is Completely Ruined
As a non-American, I don’t actually know how common cotillion balls are or how often they’re ruined by parents or students, but what I do know is that both The OC and Looking for Alaska have standout cotillion scenes. Remember Jimmy getting punched in the face by a client at Marissa’s? I certainly do.
When There’s… a (Potentially) Deadly Car Crash
As I mentioned, Looking for Alaska begins with a car crash. From that scene, the series goes back in time to show you the lead up to that moment—I’m currently on episode four and still don’t know who was in that car or what happened in the lead up to crash. For me, and a lot of The OC fans, the show might as well have ended when Marissa died, making the parallels of these two feel really important.
If you’re just getting started here, I highly suggest kicking these off by watching the trailer below and soaking up the quintessential teen-ness of it all.