Viewers/readers/listeners like referentiality. And, in pop culture, most people really enjoy cross-references. You know, the kind of witty writing that get people talking while not really obstructing their enjoyment of the show, a reward for viewers who are in on the joke but that take nothing away from those who don't. That's what I thought was so clever about the recent campaign by The OC. For those TV junkies who follow ratings and the like, most people know that The OC has been on some people's endangered list after disappointing ratings. The show was programmed against Grey's Anatomy and CSI this season, another sign of Fox's lack of confidence in the show to carry a night, since those two programs carry so much of the audience.
But few shows have been better at referencing across pop culture than The OC, and it has helped make what may have been considered just a standard teen drama series otherwise respected among some circles that would have hated most shows of this sort. By referencing comic book culture and across music and television, the show has tipped its hat to various fan communities throughout the past few seasons. Nevertheless, last Thursday['s mention may have been the most ingenious, and now fan communities are talking.
And they aren't just talking about the Chili's appearance, either.
Earlier this month, the rumors started creeping across the Internet--one of the characters from The OC was leaving the show for another primetime show. What started it all? We can thank The OC's creator Josh Schwartz. In a piece by The Boston Globe's Suzanne C. Ryan, Schwartz announced his plans to have a character leave the show for Seattle Grace, the fictional hospital where its competitor, Grey's Anatomy, is located. Now, the reference, and subsequent references to the doctors he is working with at Seattle Grace, was intended to be humor at making reference to the show that, as one fan put it, "IS KICKING YOUR ASS IN THE RATINGS."
However, it didn't end up being bad publicity for the show, even beyond the reference, because some people started reporting not that they were making references to Grey's Anatomy in The OC but that a character would be leaving The OC for Grey's Anatomy. The rumor started popping up various places, such as here and here.
While it doesn't look like it's going to lead to any more than a reference here and there, it has people talking about The OC. And, when you're talking about a show not currently on an order for a full season, any attention is probably good attention. People are now saying that, by making daring references to taboo subjects like their own competition, the show is regaining some of the edge of its original season. But what will this mean? Either way, it's interesting to watch as this rumor continues to spread across the net.