Watching Marissa Cooper’s lifeless body be carried out of a burning car was one of my first television traumas. (Clearly I’d yet to witness the death of Christopher Moltisanti. That one fucked me up.) I loved that character—so pretty! So complex! So beautifully tragic! I also loved Mischa Barton, and thought she was just the epitome of everything it meant to be hot and complicated and cool, and also maybe on drugs? I’ve cultivated a soft spot for the at times troubled actress ever since, and have rooted for her every step of the way. Yes, even when she was dating Cisco Adler for two early-Aughts years. Girlfriend, I’ve got your back.
So nobody was more interested than me to hear Mischa signed on to compete in the 22nd season of Dancing With the Stars. It’s the first time she’ll have a regular spot on TV since The O.C. (disregarding the short-lived The Beautiful Life, which I had high hopes for but was ultimately disappointed), and for anyone who, like me, holds memories of the teen drama very, very dear, it’s encouraging to hear that the ill-fated once and future queen of Orange County will be making her way back onto the small screen once a week starting March 21. She’s making a real, televised effort here, in stark contrast to her frequent disappearances from the spotlight altogether.
Mischa’s DWTS appearance also suggests that the show has become more than just a platform for “celebrities” with zero name recognition—if you were a teenager between the years of 2003 and 2006, you most definitely know who she is. No matter how many times she’s spotted out in public with a guy so grimy we actively cringe or gets torn apart by the press, Mischa still has a genuine demographic in us rapidly-aging former O.C. fans.