Say goodbye to The O.C., bitch.
After four seasons of sand, sun and adolescent angst, Fox's fictional crew of privileged Southern California teens were hosting their final beach party Thursday.
The demise of the once-scorching series was announced last month, after the show's average audience dwindled to an all-time low of about 4 million viewers per episode, down from the almost 10 million viewers that tuned in for the first season finale.
With its tony Newport Beach setting and a fetching young clique of characters played by Mischa Barton, Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody and Benjamin McKenzie, The O.C. was never lacking in the eye candy department.
But rather than allowing the show to coast on looks alone (a formula that has worked well for its MTV spinoff, Laguna Beach), series creator Josh Schwartz forced his beautiful people to suffer through situations including teen pregnancy, addiction, infidelity, fatal car crashes and more.
Of course, there were good times as well, what with Chrismukkah celebrations, girl-on-girl makeout sessions, um, Chrismukkah celebrations…
Though viewers lapped up the drama for the first two seasons, by the third season, The O.C.'s sudsy storytelling was beginning to wear thin, even as the show continued to struggle in its Thursday timeslot.
Meanwhile, word spread that Barton had tired of playing willowy beauty Marissa Cooper and was preparing to exit the show, much to the dismay of the show's longtime fans.
As the third season finale approached with promos promising the death of a central character, Barton did nothing to quell speculation about her character's destiny, stating her belief that she had gone as far as she could with the role
"My character has been through so, so much and there's really nothing more left for her to do," Barton told Access Hollywood days before the finale aired last May.
Sure enough, the season concluded with Marissa's death in a fiery car crash.
Though Barton told Newsweek it was the producers' decision to kill her character off the show, she said she was excited she got to die, as opposed to going out with "one of those lame farewells."
When asked if she would ever return to the show, perhaps in a dream sequence, Barton scoffed at the idea, saying it "would be cheesy."
With that attitude, any chance of a Marissa flashback in the series finale seems unlikely, if not impossible.
Though Schwartz has kept the outcome of the series closely guarded, he has said that the show will wrap up the storyline of each of its characters in some way.
While the promos have promised viewers both a baby and a wedding, the romantic fates of Summer (Bilson) and Seth (Brody) and Ryan (McKenzie) and Taylor (Autumn Reeser) remain up in the air.
Since The O.C. could probably have hung up its flip-flops long ago, as far as the majority of TV fans are concerned, the show's true legacy may prove to be its soundtracks, as opposed to its DVDs.
With its commitment to giving indie musicians a chance in the spotlight, the show helped make overnight sensations out of bands including Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, Imogen Heap and Surfjan Stevens, and spawned six popular compilation albums.
Whether or not you actually watched The O.C., there was no denying that its Phantom Planet theme song was catchy. "California…Californiaaaaaaaa…Here we coooooome…"
Except this time, there they go.