In this Out.com exclusive, The O.C. creator, Josh Schwartz, reveals who is coming out on his sizzling showand why. On the Fox drama, Marissa (Mischa Barton) has been through the wringer while looking for Mr. Right: Sexybutsnobby Luke, brooding Ryan, psychopath Oliver, and gardener D.J. But maybe its not Mr. Right shes looking for. While weve been asked not to reveal the who, O.C. creator Josh Schwartz is going on the record to discuss what happens when Marissain an episode arc that begins in Januarymeets Lady Love.
Why was now the right time to do a gay-themed story?
Marissa is at a point in her life where shes trying to find herself and her true identity. Theres another character who she really connects with. Its a girl, which is not something Marissa may have anticipated. But shes willing and game to explore and experiment with that.
Was it your idea?
We were looking to find someone for Marissa to connect with after DJ. Everything we came up with sounded similar to what wed done. I pitched this idea and thought it would be interesting and show a different side of her.
Traditionally gay storylines on teen shows have dealt with male sexualitywhat made you want to do a womans story? Why not have Seth explore? Hes been through it all with Summer.
Theres enough people claiming theres a homosexual subtext between Seth and Ryan, so why make it the text? [Laughs] Seth is so tied to the Summer storyline. He wasnt really available. Marissa has been trying to find herself and trying different relationships. Many of them are designed to piss her mom off. She seemed willing to go somewhere she never thought shed go before.
So its not to piss off mom?
She believes this is real. She takes it very slowly and very cautiously. When her mom finds out, its not done to be explosive. The DJ thing was kind of a bust. She was bored over the summer and she wanted to piss off her mother. It wasnt resonant and earth-shattering but this relationship is.
Given how Lukes father coming out was received on the show, will the residents of Orange County respond any better to Marissa?
Its my experience that the fluidity of sexuality with younger people is more accepted. The other story was tied in with Lukes dad. He had a family. Hed been living a lie. He had an affair in his marriage. So there were a lot of different elements. With Marissa, no ones getting hurt in the process.
Obviously you cant give everything away, but people will wonder if this relationship can sustain. Especially when there is a large fan base that wants to see Ryan and Marissa back together
Hopefully well be on a long, long time and everyone will get what they want.
Did you discuss it with Mischa?
We talked about it. Shes game. She had a storyline like this on Once and Again. Marissa loves whatever you throw at her. Shes game. If shes OD-ing in Tijuana, shes up for it. Exploring new parts of her sexualityshes up for it. But she wanted to make sure it came from a place of emotion.
A lot of times now when people hear about a lesbian relationship and the Fox network, they remember the Ally McBeal stunt several years ago, which was done to be a real ratings-getter.
I think the initial reaction is, This is done to boost ratings. I wasnt familiar that there was an Ally McBeal thing. We cooked it up well before the show ever premiered this year. Were constantly looking at evolving and growing these characters. And challenging them. Theyre at that age where theyre open to it. It was either that or Olivers return.