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Oliver Trask: L'homme Fatale

The night before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in my parents' living room watching TV. During a commercial break, my celullar started ringing. I checked to see who was calling—it was my friend Griffin—and thought to myself, "Dude, don't you know that The OC is on?" Then I realized that Griffin totally knew that The OC was on because he was watching it, too, and that he was calling me because we had just witnessed two men totally making out in primetime. I picked up to hear Griffin ask, "Did you see that?"

We chatted for a moment, until I got a call from our mutual friend, Katherine, who also wanted to know if I had seen that. Then we all had to stop talking because the show was back on.

I mention this touching anecdote because it is part of an emerging pattern. The OC is shaping up to be the most subversive show on network television. Before the gay makeout, there was Summer's use of the word "pubes". Now, they have given us TV's first male femme fatale. I am speaking of Oliver, the poor little rich boy.

I cannot take credit for this observation (nor am I the originator of homme fatale: that would be my pal Seth Sonderling). My analysis of this character went no further than thinking he was a total pussy, totally not worth the romantic Sturm und Drang he's been provoking. But then yesterday, I got this message from Griff:

I am watching last night's OC (on tape) and realizing that Oliver may be the first male Val in teen TV drama. He is basically a girl, using girl tactics to break up a relationship. All the guys see how bad he is, but the girls can't see it.

Griffin is right on. I mean, only girls fake suicide attempts in order to win sympathy and, hopefully, love. And that girlfriend he's always talking about, but who never materializes? He is totally making her up, and that is a totally girl thing to do. He's working the crazy angle, and that is classic female relationship pathology. Griffin's canny observation has turned Oliver into a fascinating character. No longer just a lying, pretentious punk-ass bitch, he is now a gender-bending avatar of romantic chaos.

God bless The OC.


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January 16, 2004 | Permalink

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