If you've read some of my reviews before, you may have got a sense, an inkling, a vibe, that a particular early 2000s teen show holds a special place in my heart. At every possible opportunity, I will mention The O.C. I'll even mention it when it doesn't need to be mentioned. This month, if you can believe it, marked the 20th anniversary of the seminal high school dramedy going to air. The year was 2003. Teen shows at the time included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 7th Heaven, Dawson's Creek. It would be another month before One Tree Hill started, and four years until Gossip Girl. The O.C. arrived like a bolt from the blue, and changed the way we perceived popular culture. All of a sudden, being nerdy was not only cool - it was great. You like superheroes? So does Seth Cohen. Emo music your jam? Seth's your boy. This was a high school show without a leading jock. Sure, Ryan tried out for the soccer team that one time, but with his poor attitude and propensity to save Marissa from some sort of calamity at any given moment, that was never going to last. And yes, I know Luke is a water polo player and in Newport Beach that makes him a jock, but he was an antagonist for most of the first season, and then water polo is rarely mentioned again until his younger twin brothers somehow become relevant characters in season four. As I was just 10 when The O.C. came out, I missed the boat by just a whisker. As it happened, the very first episode I ever saw of the series was the finale - The End's Not Near, It's Here. At this stage, I had a vague idea of what the show was about and who the characters were - such was its proliferation on TV and teen magazines at the time. But it wasn't until I watched the pilot episode in my high school English class in year 9 (no idea what we were studying at the time, but I'm grateful to Ms Cush for making it part of the curriculum) that I knew I'd be watching the whole series. If, somehow, you've gotten this far with no idea what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. The O.C., created by Josh Schwartz, follows Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie, giving young Russell Crowe vibes), a kid from Chino in southern California, as he's taken into juvenile detention after being along for the ride when his troublesome older brother Trey stole a car and almost immediately crashed it. In walks Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher, the best TV dad around), the public defender assigned to Ryan's case. He tells Ryan he'll be there for him if he needs it. And it turns out the teen needs it sooner than he thought - after his mum throws him out of the house, Ryan can't find anywhere to stay, and Sandy Cohen is his last call. When he rocks up in a sleek, expensive car, Ryan says "I didn't think your kind of lawyer made money". "We don't," Sandy agrees, "my wife does." Ding ding ding, Welcome to The O.C. Orange County. Ryan arrives in this uber wealthy, exclusive community as the ultimate fish out of water. He's the talk of the town. He meets the literal girl next door, Marissa (Mischa Barton in the role that would catapult her to the celebrity stratosphere) on his first night and is promptly infatuated. Then he meets Sandy's son Seth (Adam Brody, who basically is Seth Cohen) and they are fast friends. We learn Seth is in love with Summer (Rachel Bilson, who was only supposed to be in a few episodes but charmed everyone so much she stayed on forever), but it will be a while before we know that they are the heart and soul of the whole program. Ryan is eventually adopted by the Cohens after his mother proves to be useless (I know she turned her life around, but I will never forgive Dawn Atwood). The O.C. has all the best drama, love triangles, battles with alcoholism, secret children, drug problems and even cage fighting. It does teen tropes better than any other series. The music is as important to The O.C. as the cast. Songs like Forever Young by Youth Group, Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, Dice by Finley Quaye and, of course, the theme song California by Phantom Planet all became huge. Even The Killers stopped by The Bait Shop - managed by Olivia Wilde's Alex - to perform Mr Brightside. Four seasons of TV spawned six soundtrack albums (I still have them all on CD, even Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah). Though, to be fair, at 27 episodes season one is practically three seasons in today's TV environment. I've watched that season more times than I could possible count - though there are a few episodes in the middle that I may have skipped on some viewings. See, there was a time there where watching that gaslighting psychopath Oliver Trask (Taylor Handley) try and convince everyone that Ryan was the unhinged one and that he wasn't doing everything in his power to isolate Marissa for himself, was just too anxiety-inducing for me. I'm over it now, if you're wondering. So here's to model homes, Atomic County, cotillion, Chrismukkah, The Summer Breeze, Newpsies and bagels. Happy 20th The O.C.