Ding, Dong, Marissa is Dead…

“¦ And about bloody time, too. I found Marissa Cooper (Mishca Barton) from The OC to be one of the most vomit-worthy female characters invented. She has a reverse-Oedipus complex (I think it’s called a Cassandra complex) , harbouring an intense hatred for her mother Julie, who isn’t nearly as rotten a human being as the deadbeat father she adores. At the first sign of trouble, Marissa shoplifts and downs a bottle of vodka, then sits down and cries and waits until someone picks her up and carries her home to bed. She abandons friends, family and boyfriends who care for her to pursue men with a penchant for violence and infidelity, if they aren’t out-and-out nutjobs. When these relationships fall to pieces, she goes ambling back to the boyfriend without so much as an apology or mea culpa.

Each time she pursues such men, often barely escaping with her life/sanity in tact, you’d think she would learn. Nope. Over the course of three years, she gets burned by a cheating boyfriend, an obsessive nutjob, her boyfriend’s drug-dealing brother and a couple of other strays she picked up along the way. The last of which was a violent, possessive man, Volchek, who didn’t take it too kindly when Marissa gets bored with him and goes back to her safe”˜n’secure Regular Boyfriend Ryan. (Why Ryan kept taking her back was beyond me.) The storyline ends with a car chase which results in Marissa’s death.

I don’t know if Barton wanted out of her contract, if TPTB wanted a knockout season finale, or they wanted to portray realistic consequences for Marissa’s lifetime, but that’s how I chose to see it. For three years (and probably most of her life before that) Marissa didn’t so much court danger, as went actively seeking it. She was self-absorbed and indifferent to the worry and pain her actions inflicted on other people – she just kept on seeking that danger. You do that long enough and odds are, it’ll kill you.

I liked that The OC portrayed her actions as ones which could – and did – have disastrous consequences. She was a spoilt brat who wouldn’t take responsibility for her actions, and years of accumulated carelessness came back to bite her on the ass. I’m sure legions of fans of the show will say she didn’t deserve to die, but I say she had it coming, and kudos to The OC PTB for tackling such a realistic end to a spoilt, self-absorbed character.


  1. MaggieCat says

    The opposite of an Oedipal complex is an Electra complex. Cassandra was the one who was prophetic, but cursed by Apollo to never be believed. Not that I’m a mythology geek or anything… nothing to see here, moving on… 😉

    I don’t know if Barton wanted out of her contract, if TPTB wanted a knockout season finale, or they wanted to portray realistic consequences for Marissa’s lifetime, but that’s how I chose to see it.

    Sadly, I doubt the realism was the initial reasoning behind her death, but it sounds like they used the opportunity to create a fairly reasonable end for someone with those personality traits. I hate it when a character gets away scot-free with anything and everything, despite doing some of the dumbest/most dangerous things they can find. And it seems to happen to women more than men from what I can recall, which always leaves me with the sense that they think women can’t be held accountable. The only other people I know who cannot be held accountable for their actions are children and the insane, so obviously that irks.

  2. scarlett says

    Well, initially this article was called ‘Ding Dong, Mary Sue is Dead’, but I changed it because of the discussion we’ve had about the definition of ‘Mary Sue’. One of my personal definitions is a woman who is allowed to make the biggest mistakes but not be held accountable foir them, which annoyed me for three seasons of TOC.

    It’s the same reason I don’t like Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, or Susan from Desperate Housewives, because they can do whatever they please and not be held accounatble for it.

    I think at the very least, they made good of an oppurtunity in killing Marissa off. I actually quite liked the new season – populated by reaonably strong female (uber-strong, if you allow for them being in a soap), but unfortunately, just as it got decent, it got canned :p

  3. Purtek says

    I…kind of can’t believe I’m about to stand up for Marissa Cooper, on any level. That said, while I agree that Marissa was frequently whiny and inclined to draw others into her circle of self-destruction, and that someone (specifically, Ryan, the umpteenth time she essentially demanded that he take her back) should have called her on it by cutting her out of his or her life, I don’t feel good about rejoicing over her death. I actually feel worse about it after reading your post. I know she’s a fictional character, so I do have some sense of perspective, but it’s scary how much I’ve heard similar thoughts expressed about women in abusive relationships–first of all, if they choose to stay with their abusive partners, or worse, if they, as is not uncommon, get into a string of ones that get progressively worse. The psychology of why that happens, the Electra complex of it all, the “I don’t deserve to be treated better”, or just the downright familiarity of abuse, isn’t really as important as the reactions of others, which can boil down to “Well, what did she expect?” if she complains or ends up in the hospital, or worse, arguments about why she essentially “deserved it”.

    Again, I know she’s a fictional character, and I hated her too, so when she died I was thrilled, because damn, was she spoiled. But something about the way her tendency to gravitate toward “dangerous” men is being highlighted here makes me feel really, really icky.

  4. scarlett says

    Hmmm, I never thought about it like that. It always really annoyed me that Ryan stayed with her all that time – I mean, Julie I could understand, ‘coz you can’t disown a daughter the same way you can disown a girlfriend, but if I was Ryan, I’d be long gone, and, if she were a real character, it’s possible Ryan leaving could have made her take a long, hard look at herself.

    I wasn’t delighted that she died (beyond the fact I hated the character and was pleased she would no longer be on the show) but I was pleased that it came across as ‘you act like a spoilt brat, you pursue ‘bad boys’ and turn your back on caring, supportive family and friends, and eventually, it will come around and bite you on the ass’. I thought her death was an appropriate ending for a spoilt, ungrateful, indulgent life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *