Learning (or Not) From Mistakes

Spoilers for The OC
I stopped watching The OC some time ago, but unfortunately I live in a house where two others are rabid fans. It wasn’t that I didn’t love Julie; I did. Nothing slowed that woman for very long. But I could never stand her daughter, Marissa.

Marissa is the most self-absorbed female currently on television; at least Susan Myers can occasionally admit she was wrong (although pitting Marissa Cooper against Joey Potter could prove interesting”¦). Early in season one, she somehow manages to hold her next-door neighbour Ryan responsible for her boyfriend Luke cheating on her, even though Ryan had spent the few weeks he’d known her trying to tell her Luke was bad news. A warped case of shoot the messenger, perhaps?

Then, when Ryan and Marissa get together, after a few weeks Marissa tells Ryan she loves him. Ryan reacted the same way I would have such a situation where I was fond of a person but didn’t love them, which was to thank her for the sentiment. Which Marissa gets super-upset over. Well, what did you expect after a few weeks? And what did want him to do? Lie?

Then she gets emotionally involved with a nutcase she meets through therapy. (Dude, that should have been your first clue.) When Ryan tells her he’s bad news, she tells him he’s jealous, and dumps him. When this guy turns out to be bad news, and Marissa is saved from a possible life-threatening situation thanks to Ryan’s intervention, she’s all “˜oh, thanks. Now we can be together again and forget it ever happened.’ Yeah, because if someone had bailed on our relationship at the first sign on trouble, I’d want to get back with them.

This could have been an opportunity for Marissa to realise she fucked up, and the best she can hope for is Ryan’s friendship. It would have been the mature thing to do; I didn’t believe him when he was telling a truth I didn’t want to hear, I deserve his complete lack of faith in me. But no, she just expects Ryan will forgive her and that will be the end of it. Because she’s so perfect and unforgettable that nothing she does is truly wrong.

Skip forward to season two, and Marissa’s gotten involved in a weird friendship/relationship with Ryan’s brother Trey. Trey is, once again, bad news. He pursues attractive women, especially attractive women who pursue him. Marissa’s behaviour, although no doubt justified by her as being friendly and welcoming, is no less subtle in her “˜come on over’ signals then a bitch in heat, and all comes to a head when he attempts to rape her. Now, I am not saying she was asking for it. But if there ever was a textbook case of a woman blindly ignoring all the warning signals and walking into a situation where a man felt he was entitled to make a move, that was it. I could see where Trey was coming from – even if I didn’t agree with him – when he said Marissa had been asking for it (at least to a point where he felt justified in coming onto her), and I have a pretty low tolerance for that kind of excuse. It’s women/characters like Marissa who allow the boundaries to get very blurred and then get indignant that men cross a line they weren’t aware existed that makes rape such a difficult thing to prosecute. She wanted it. She was asking for it. She had it coming.

Season three. Marissa’s going to a different school to Ryan, and she gets emotionally involved with another guy. She complains that Ryan doesn’t get her when this other guy does; well, if he gets you so much, then break up with Ryan and go out with him, but don’t string them both along.

I guess it’s easy when Marissa never physically cheats; she never so much as kissed Ryan when she was with Luke, kissed Trey, kissed any of the other guys she got involved with when she was with Ryan. The only guy she’s ever actually ‘with’ is several months after she and Ryan have broken up. But always, she got involved in a deep emotional relationship, which most would call cheating on some level. But maybe it’s different for Mary Sues; they can string along as many guys as they want
The other guy ends up dying, and Marissa mourns him very publicly, and someone manages to put the blame on Ryan once again. If I were Ryan, I’d find someone else. Marissa is a self-absorbed brat who is unable to see anything that goes wrong in her life as in any way her fault. Maybe if all the people in her life abandoned her she might get a clue.

To be fair, Marissa doesn’t exactly have shining examples for parents. Her father Jimmy is something of a fraud and absentee parent, and her mother Julie, although she tries at times to understand Marissa, is somewhat self-serving. And it’s not like Marissa makes much of an effort to have a relationship with Julie, either. But loads of people got a raw deal when it came to their parents, at least Marissa’s love her, even if they have a strange way of showing it at times. I have friends who’ve shown more love and forgiveness towards family members that molested them then Marissa does her parents, and I don’t think this is so much an illustration of their still being victims trapped in abusive relationships as Marissa’s refusal to think of herself as anything other then the victim of everyone else’s wrongdoings. The girl seriously needs to grow up. I wonder what it would take?

I’m off to read Scarlett again. There is a woman who learned from her mistakes, however painful.

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