Maybe the reason The O.C.'s Marissa (Mischa Barton) has had such a hard time finding Mr. Right is that she's been looking for a Mister. In a story arc that begins in January, the teen princess will fall for a fellow female. So says series creator Josh Schwartz in an interview with Out.com, though he declines to name the object of Marissa's affection. ''Marissa is at a point in her life where she's trying to find herself and her true identity,'' explains Schwartz, who says the lesbian subplot idea was his. ''There's another character who she really connects with. It's a girl, which is not something Marissa may have anticipated. But she's willing and game to explore and experiment with that.''
Schwartz denies that the plot twist is an effort to boost the show's sagging ratings. ''We cooked it up well before the show ever premiered this year,'' he says. ''We're constantly looking at evolving and growing these characters. And challenging them. They're at that age where they're open to it.'' He adds, ''It was either that or Oliver's return.'' (No, not that psycho!)
Barton fans will recall that she acted in a similar subplot a few years ago on Once and Again, where she played the first same-sex love interest for high schooler Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood). ''Marissa loves whatever you throw at her. She's game,'' Schwartz says, calling the actress by her character's name. ''If she's OD-ing in Tijuana, she's up for it. Exploring new parts of her sexuality she's up for it.'' We just hope her new partner is also up for it and that she watches out for flying lawn furniture.