Adam Brody: Art Streiber/FOX
Annie Barrett
December 17, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

”The O.C.”: The nightmare before Chrismukkah

Oh, man. Just when I thought I’d be creative and spend the hours before tonight’s Chrismukkah episode dreaming up more interdenominational holiday word combinations, The O.C. had to go and outdo itself with the possible holidays Eastover and Kwanzashanah, as well as an ingenious new piece of headwear, the yarmulclaus, and Kirsten’s brilliant outburst, ”Oy, humbug!” The best I could come up with was Frosty the Shomer Shabbos. This is why I write the O.C. TV Watch and not The O.C.. Oy, humbug.

The second annual Chrismukkah episode centered around mixed-faith teenager Seth Cohen’s desire to increase his pet holiday’s popularity (acknowledging, very self-referentially, that the show actually has spread the Chrismukkah spirit nationwide). He pulls out a Chrismukkah Work Wheel and says to the dubious Ryan that Seth’s own job will be ”supervising, smartass.” But he says it like ”supervising smartass,” as if that were his title. He then suggests some serious ”Jewcruitment” to even out the faith ratio for the family’s Chrismukkah party. And right after he wonders where there could possibly be Jews in Orange County, he sees Sandy entering the room and cries out, ”Father!” All this while wearing a reindeer sweater. Priceless.

For all the holiday humor, though, the episode was the most drama packed yet this season. The main characters gather at Camp Cohen for some Chrismukkah cheer. (Despite Seth’s efforts to even out the ethnic mix, it’s like some goy-rights parade in there.) Caleb decides it’s as good a time as any to confess that Ryan’s date, Lindsay (a.k.a. Lindsbree), is his illegitimate daughter, which earns him well-deserved slaps from legitimate daughter Kirsten and second wife Julie. Exit various characters in tearful rages. That’s the O.C. we know and love.

This, by the way, officially adds two more people — Lindsbree and her mother — to the show’s ginormous extended family. (Wait. There has to be a place for Summer. Estranged cousin? Seth’s twin, who was stolen by a hospital nurse post-partum? They’ll think of something. Again, I’m — thankfully — not in charge.)

Ryan then kibitzes to get Kirsten out of her huge walk-in closet o’ wretchedness by feeding her a line about how good the Cohens have always been at letting in new people. (I’ll admit it. I cried.) Seth schlepps over to the beach, where he convinces Lindsbree, who is perched upon a spotlit mound of sand, that she should be excited to enter a world of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt, i.e., the Cohen family. In a symbolic gesture mirroring what he did for Ryan last season, Seth offers her a welcome-to-the-family stocking that says ”Laura.” Hey, she’ll take it. The drugstore was probably all out of ”Lindsbree.”

But the real Chrismukkah MVP is Summer. Though earlier, in the Harbor School White Bread and Coffee Shop, she playfully pretended she didn’t recall the holiday, she gathers everyone together for a miraculous, weepy, hug-filled Chrismukkah reunion. (Well, everyone except Julie and ex-husband Jimmy, who forgo the festivities for a tryst in Jimmy’s pleasure yacht.) The Christmas lights switch on, the latkes are distributed, and Seth sings his first Chrismukkah hymn, about two bearded men named Jesus and Moses. Happy challah days!

What do you think? Was Chrismukkah too serious this year? Does Seth realize Summer’s still in love with him? And once I get my yarmulclaus in the mail, is it okay if I wear it year-round?

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