Teen cult series “Life on the Wave” now on HBO Max

(Photo: press materials)

Love, fashion and music – the series “Życie na wave”, which debuted almost 20 years ago, is worth watching for teen sentiment, T-shirts and mini, as well as the soundtrack to indie rock songs. All seasons are now available on HBO Max.

Love and fashion and music or fashion and music and love, or maybe music and love and fashion. For every “Life on the Wave” fan (originally “The OC” referring to the place, Dirty Rich Orange County, California), the order is different. For me, it started with the song “California” Phantom Planet that was taped exactly 20 years ago, in 2002. I was supposed to wait 15 more times for my wild California trip, but I knew Los Angeles and its surroundings from hundreds of movies and series. The guys from the unknown band managed to convey the atmosphere of California as I dreamed – decadent, a little sad, very relaxed.

“California” was bought by the CW to play the lead in a teen series written by Josh Schwartz, a 26-year-old screenwriter at the time, and one of the youngest films in American television history with his own production. Schwartz realized that children define themselves by the music they listen to, and he closed each episode with a song. Consistently stuck to the indie rock genre (“One guitar and a lot of complaints” – one of the film’s heroes sums up the song “Death Cab For Cutie, Summer”, considering it the best Zeitgeist. And Life on the Wave was about a transitional moment — not the beginning of the century, and no longer beyond the age of social media. Neither great opportunities nor amazing disasters. After the World Trade Center, and even before the economic crisis. Trends spawned quickly, persisted without conviction, but quickly became forgotten.

Y2K style in “Życie na Wave”: light and smart allure

The fashion for “Życie na Wave” was second to me after music. Marissa Cooper, a poor, rich Newport Beach girl with a better taste for clothes than boys, wore party shirts (for those unfamiliar with the term: something like short dresses—silk, satin, or tulle to wear with low-waisted jeans), in thick shades, skirts strung on Hips and lingerie dresses. Modest, sarcastic and innocent, her best friend Summer Roberts proved that sex can be light and smart. But that’s how they went to school. In the evening, high school girls turned into newbies and regular habits, which was not difficult to achieve, because in Newport Beach every day the birthday of this or that rich man is celebrated. These parties were an excuse to show the social background – corruption, transgression, class differences. After all, the starting point of the plot was the clash of a well-to-do family with a boy from a bad neighborhood.

When Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), as public defender, finds a missing Ryan (Benjamin Mackenzie), who has been threatened by the reformatory, he decides to take the boy. The teen soon makes friends with his son, Seth (Adam Brody), a nerd and comedy lover, who is rejected by the arrogant and athletic school community. Together they can conquer the world, or at least the women of their dreams. Ryan, the girl from the neighborhood of Marisa, Seth Summer, whom he’s been in love with since elementary school.

(Photo: press materials)

Romantic or toxic?

Love, which is the most important for many viewers, has many colors in “Życie na Wave”. As with any teen series, the relationship setting is endless, but the real feeling is only one. To kill this love, first love, love that is often poisonous, unhappy and evil, heroes will do anything – they will hurt, cheat, steal. Falling into debt, addiction and obsessions. Light shade loves sweethearts – “Życie na wave” has one of the coolest dads from the teen series. Cohen is a human being, self-aware, understanding. They give children – biological and adoptive – a basic sense of security. Thanks to it, they can experience the most painful rites of passage (and as the series grew, Schwartz presented the heroes with more and more dramatic events – a shootout, an accident, the death of a loved one) almost unharmed. There is also a family by its choice – loyalty to friends often wins out even over romantic love.

A nostalgic return to the past

Today I still listen to music from the show. Usually after two glasses of wine, in the late evening, when the kids are asleep. Sometimes I may not shed a tear, but I will surely dream of the memory of my youth. The songs constitute the soundtrack to my psychological growth. I do not go back to fashion from that era. Trends 2000 and a little later I leave to the TikTok generation. Every now and then, out of feeling, I buy a T-shirt that then remains unworn in my wardrobe. To prove that I can still, but I don’t have to.

and love? The mini marathon on HBO Max made me realize once again how safe it is to experience pain, disappointment, and betrayal through champions. As an adult, I couldn’t stand waiting for a call, kissing in the rain, or triangles and quadrilaterals. So, going back to the show from the past, I’m back to myself from the past. I saw a person similar to heroes – a cynical romantic, a fearless rebel, an excellent student. A person for whom every day was a rite of passage, learning something new, a test of strength. I will treat subsequent sessions of Life on the Wave not only as a testament to a bygone era, but also as a therapy, and one conclusion: how I’m no good anymore because I’m no longer 19.

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