How Viewers OD'd on ‘The O.C.’ -- New York Magazine:
There are concrete reasons for the show’s quick decline: Schwartz became distracted by other projects, and lead-character Marissa (Mischa Barton) was killed off last year. But in hindsight, these seem like symptoms, not the disease. The O.C.’s main problem—what took the show from phenomenon to failure—was that it became too cool too fast. Its hipster audience, initially seduced by the show’s self-referential wittiness, was repelled by its mainstream success. And mainstream fans, drawn in by the soap opera, were turned off by increasingly absurdist plot twists. Ironically, the super-hip O.C. failed where Aaron Spelling’s less-intelligent shows succeeded—it was too ironic to be a soap, but too soapy to be a parody.