It seems like everyone rewatched a nostalgic TV show or two (or three or four) this past year. With the state of the world being what it was, it makes sense so many people would gravitate toward a familiar favorite—including Rachel Bilson, star of beloved 2000s teen drama The O.C.
The actor says she’s always been a creature of habit when it comes to TV—sitcoms like Golden Girls and Friends are regularly in her rotation—but something about this year inspired her to revisit the soapy series in which she played Summer Roberts, a seemingly shallow popular girl who slowly (and to her horror) falls for the nerdy Seth Cohen (Adam Brody).
“After the year we’ve had, it just felt like a good time to do something that felt good,” she tells me over the phone. “It’s really fun going back and watching the show. I feel like I’m seeing it for the first time.”
Bilson even teamed up with her costar Melinda Clarke, who played the conniving Julie Cooper, to recap it all for a podcast, Welcome to the OC, Bitches! The two chat with former cast members, writers, and other O.C. experts to discuss behind-the-scenes details and unpack what made the show a cultural phenomenon.
“I really don’t remember enough of the show,” says the 39-year-old actor, who was in her early 20s when The O.C. premiered in 2003. “I’m kind of watching it as an audience member. Of course I know Seth and Summer wind up together and stuff like that, but there are a lot of things that feel like a new discovery.”
For Bilson, it’s been particularly fun to see herself at a different stage in life. “I’m a mom now, so I’m like, oh God, I don’t want to go through these teenage years,” she says, with a laugh. “It’s a little horrifying, but it is interesting watching it as an adult and seeing myself so young. I’m relating more to the parents now.”
Another surprise: how much of the show’s early-2000s style has come back in fashion. Rachel Bilson breaks that—and more—down for our latest installment of Your Fave’s Faves. Read on to find out what lip balm has been her number one since she was 13, her favorite thing in her closet, and more.
The trends from The O.C. I still love…
As I rewatch The O.C., I am noticing there are a lot of bikini tops as shirts and that is just horrifying, but it was a staple. I guess, you know, a beach community…you see a lot of short skirts, flip-flops, and bikini tops. But what I think is cool is that some things from that time are having a resurgence, like Levi’s denim skirts. Marissa’s wearing one in an episode I just watched, and I was like, “Those are back!” It’s kind of insane how things do come back. I guess that’s why I’ve kept so many things and looked like a hoarder over the years.
The Juicy Couture tracksuit was also so prominent. And especially this last year, with matching sweatsuits being such a big component of fashion at home, it’s kind of interesting to see the Juicy suit making a comeback.
There was a lot of bronzer on The O.C. too. Everyone had to be really tan. Bronzer was a big thing, but I’ve always been a fan of it. I like bronzer better than blush even. I’ve always been a Bobbi Brown person, and Charlotte Tilbury has a really good bronzer contouring combo that I love as well.
…and the ones that can stay in the 2000s
Platform flip-flops. I’m totally fine with never seeing them again. There are certain things, like the flatform, that are more excusable and have been done well by brands like Celine. But the platform flip-flop sandal? I hope it never comes back.
The brand I’m always shopping
I’m really into Rachel Comey, and I have a few shoes and bags of hers that I’m really happy with right now. Her sandals are really cute and different. They’re just cool—it’s not something you see all the time. So I’ve really been into that.
My favorite comfy pants
I’m a big fan of comfy pants. I have a ton of Aviator Nation sweats because they’re the softest and coziest. Raquel Allegra has some really good relaxed, comfy pants that are good to go to if you feel like you need to step it up a little bit.
The TV shows I’m streaming
Having a kid, I don’t have much time to watch TV. I’m a creature of habit, so I rewatch all the greatest hits like Jeopardy, Golden Girls, Friends, Sex and the City. It’s very comforting to me. I did read Normal People, so I started the series. That was done so well. Of course, I binged Bridgerton like everyone else. I mean, you just want to see the duke right? Anytime he was onscreen, I was like, “Hello.” I thought the duke and Daphne’s chemistry was really fun to watch. For moms, I recommended watching Waffle and Mochi on Netflix with kids. It’s so cute and educational. I love learning all about food and different things.
The beauty products I love most
I’m really into Dr. Barbara Sturm. All her face products, especially the hyaluronic serum, are really good. But my main staple since I was, like, 13 years old is Dr. Pepper Lip Smackers. Always and forever. It adds a little color. It’s perfection.
The go-to Item I tell other moms about
Kids have to wash their hands so much now, I like Bāeo bare butter. It’s all-natural and awesome. I love to support their business.
What I’m buying for post-pandemic life
Even if I buy a dress, it still has to be like a comfy housedress. I don’t know how to go out in public anymore. It’s really tricky. It’s like, matching sweatsuits till I die. But I am excited to buy shoes again. I’ve been living in fuzzy Crocs because why put anything else on your feet? So I’m excited to actually break out my Rachel Comey sandals and wear them.