Character Showdown: Gossip Girl vs. The O.C.

When Josh Schwartz created the pilot of The O.C. at just 26, he became the youngest network TV exec of all time. Schwartz’s understanding of teens, witty, dialogue, and drama-filled plotlines kept us all glued to our screens every week. The O.C. became an instant cultural phenomenon that even inspired the reality show Laguna Beach and had us all wishing we could live the life of a privileged ‘Newspie’ teen. It’s no surprise then that when Schwartz then worked with Stephanie Savage to adapt the Gossip Girl novels he created another revolution in drama that had us all OBSESSED with the scandals of “Manhattan’s Elite." But in the battle of West Coast versus East Coast what characters truly reign supreme?  

The Troubled “It Girls” 

Marissa Cooper and Serena van der Woodsen. Both are gorgeous socialites, both have questionable taste in boyfriends, and both sorta killed a dude. But between ‘S’ and “Coop” who was the ultimate party girl icon?

Winner: The O.C.  

If this was a contest of who you’d most likely wanna hang out with in real life then Serena would win hands-down. But in terms of whose antics, breakdowns, and drama were the most thoroughly entertaining from week to week, Marissa is the clear victor. Even her exit from the show went up in literal flames.  



Popular, demanding high school Queen Bees and BFFs to the lead, both Summer Roberts and Blair Waldorf were loyal friends, powerhouses of confidence, and dedicated  fashionistas. So what’s the better accessory Blair’s preppy headbands or Summer’s denim minis? 

Winner: GG  

SO CLOSE. But while Summer’s growth as an activist in college was awesome and inspiring, Blair really did become the breakout star of Gossip Girl, and her leadership and amazing wardrobe is still the envy of college girls everywhere!  


The Nerdy Underdogs

Seth Cohen and Dan Humphrey were essentially Josh Schwartz’s author avatars. Seth was a rich, sheltered, comic book nerds and Dan was the hipster writer from Brooklyn who constantly felt like an outsider around his wealthy private school peers. In addition to their writing interests Both boys shared passion for constant sarcasm, indie music, and pining after the most popular girls in school: Summer and Serena.  

Winner: The O.C.  

Dan lost all of his outsider/underdog charm by the end of the series, becoming just as manipulative as any other member of the NYC In Crowd. Seth, for all his lies and egotistic moments, remained both good and geeky at heart. In the end, we were still rooting for Seth to end up with Summer while Dan no longer felt worthy of Serena.  


The “Bad Boy”  

This is the loosest comparison of the bunch. In real-life, the Chino-raised, working-class Ryan would absolutely punch Chuck Bass in his plaid scarf wearing face. However both characters worked to overcome their harsh reputations and family issues in order to establish themselves in the world.  

Winner: TIE  

Ryan is definitely the better developed character that audiences root for, but Chuck stole every scene he was in and went from comic-relief to a fan favorite one of the show’s main players.


The Socialite Moms 

Lily van der Woodsen seems to be a mix of both The O.C.’s Kirsten Cohen and Julie Cooper. Like Kirsten she’s a super wealthy, blonde, uptight society woman and like Julie she’s been married way to many times to count and has a troubled relationship with her teen daughter. Still at least Lily never went full Julie and slept with her daughter’s high school boyfriend!  

Winner: The O.C.  

Even though Julie and Kirsten started out a little rough around the edges, by the end of the first season, we were just as invested in their friendship, marriages, and business plans as we were in the drama of the younger cast. Lily’s plotlines on the other hand always felt like an afterthought, (remember fake cancer?) and she was hardly ever around to parent her kids.


The Hipster Dads 

Both Sandy Cohen and Rufus Humphrey tried to fulfill the role of the cool, laidback dad, trying to impart wisdom on their resistant sons. Whereas Sandy adopted Ryan into his home and always tried to use the law to protect the undergo in a town controlled by the rich, Rufus mostly lounged around the Loft and made waffles.  

Winner: The O.C.   

The goodhearted legacy of Sandy Cohen and his eyebrows takes this one by a mile. The Law School at University of Berkley even has an official “Sandy Cohen Public Defender Fellowship” that is awarded to law students studying to work as public defenders in Orange County.  


The Bratty Younger Sibs

Both Kaitlin Cooper and Jenny Humphrey are typically very polarizing to fans. Kaitlin was away at boarding school for the O.C.’s first 3 seasons, but took on main role as the California’s rebellious princess once Marissa departed. Jenny started out as the naïve, heart of GG’s untrustworthy cast, but quickly got sucked into scheming just like her big bro.  

Winner: GG

If Kaitlin had gotten more than a single season, she might have had a better shot at the title.  But love her or hate her, Jenny’s change from naïve freshman to the new rebellious Queen of Constance was one of the shows most memorable character arcs.  


Overall Victor: The O.C.

In the end, you can’t beat the original. While both shows are icons in the world of teen soaps, the O.C. felt more like watching actual teenagers going through high school issues while Gossip Girl’s jump to college was shaky at best and usually felt more like watching a fantasized version of New York.