The first TV creation of producer Josh Schwartz, The O.C. is one of the best teen dramas of the 2000s. From its melodramatic storylines to its then-trendy fashion — remember Summer’s velour tracksuits? — the show defined the decade.

Adam Brody has recently said that he doesn’t believe The O.C. could be made today. But what if he was wrong? Could the stars of 2021 recapture the magic of Seth and Summer’s fan-favorite romance or the tumultuousness of the Cooper family? Which actors are up to the task?

Kaitlin Cooper: Halle Bailey

Marissa’s rambunctious younger sister, Kaitlin returns home from boarding school in season 3 and causes problems for her family by repeatedly stealing and throwing parties without permission. Briefly played by Shailene Woodley in season 1, the role was taken over by Willa Holland in seasons 3 and 4.

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Halle Bailey would provide a fresh take on the character. Kaitlin’s wild-child personality is unlike any character Bailey has portrayed on screen before; it’s certainly a world away from her role as Ariel in the upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid. This more grown-up TV role would be a logical progression from Bailey’s turn as Skylar Forster in Black-ish spin-off Grown-ish. While Skyler is intensely smart and focused, playing Kaitlin would give fans the opportunity to see Bailey in a role where she really lets her hair down.

Taylor Townsend: Millie Bobby Brown

Taylor (Autumn Reeser) is introduced in season 3 as an antagonist to Summer. Characterized as a straight-laced overachiever, Taylor is neglected by her parents, which leads her to be over-eager in her quest to please people. Taylor is a recurring role in season 3 but is bumped up to a regular in season 4 following Marissa’s death.

Breaking out in Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown has proved herself to be a talented actress with impressive emotional range. While her role as Eleven touches on themes commonly found in teen dramas, such as young love and coming of age, it would be fascinating to see Brown in a fully-fledged teen drama role with all the glamour and trappings that go with it. Her portrayal of both Eleven and the title character in Netflix’s Enola Holmes prove that Brown would do an excellent job at portraying Taylor’s eccentric personality.

Jimmy Cooper: Austin Nichols

Jimmy (Tate Donovan), the father of Marissa and Kaitlin, is characterized as a flighty deadbeat dad who battles perpetual financial problems. Despite trying to do his best, he often causes problems and heartache for those around him. Jimmy is most prominent in seasons 1 and 3, though does feature briefly in 2 and 4.

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Most known for his role in One Tree Hill, Austin Nichols would be an interesting choice for Jimmy. Jimmy is the antithesis to Nichol’s OTH character who is a loving partner and doting father, so it would be interesting to see Nichols flex his acting skills in such a different role.

Julie Cooper: Gabrielle Union

Fans of The Real Housewives of Orange County will love Marissa and Kaitlin’s mom Julie (Melinda Clarke), who starts the show as a caricature of an Orange County housewife. Devious and shallow, she’s materialistic and hard on her children. However, Julie undergoes one of the biggest transformations in the series. By the end of season 4, she’s a college graduate with a new outlook on life.

With plenty of teen drama experience under her belt, Gabrielle Union would be a great choice for Julie. Union would be able to bring the same verve and glamour to the role as Clarke, while also convincingly depicting Julie’s transformation from materialistic housewife to hard-working entrepreneur. Plus, it would be great to see an actress best known for starring in some iconic teen movie roles (Bring It OnShe’s All That) transition to playing a parent in the same genre.

Kirsten Cohen: Darby Stanchfield

Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) is hard-working and family-oriented. Throughout the series, she shows that there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her family, and that includes her adoptive son Ryan. However, Kirsten also deals with some serious issues in The O.C., particularly struggling with alcohol addiction.

This role needs an actor who can portray multiple sides to the character — both the fierce, head-strong mother figure and the vulnerable woman dealing with addiction. Both the character’s battle with alcohol addiction and her role as a mother to precocious teens echoes Darby Stanchfield’s character Nina Locke in Locke & Key. This experience would make Stanchfield a great fit for the role of Kirsten.

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Sandy Cohen: Paul Rudd

Sandy (Peter Gallagher) is another of The O.C.‘s most beloved characters. Despite being an affluent man living in the heart of Orange County, Sandy sees himself as an outcast who disapproves of the shallow, materialistic lives of his peers.

Bringing star power to the remake, Paul Rudd would be a great choice for Sandy. Rudd’s versatile acting career shows that he has both the comedic timing and the gravitas needed to portray Sandy in a remake of The O.C. Rudd excels as both a leading man and as a quirky side-kick, and as Sandy has characteristics of both of those archetypes, Rudd would be a perfect candidate for the role.

Summer Roberts: Lana Condor

According to the Los Angeles Times, fan-favorite Summer (Rachel Bilson) was initially only meant to be a supporting role in The O.C. However, thanks to Bilson’s strong portrayal of the ditzy but straight-talking teen, Summer became part of the show’s “core four.”

Bilson’s are big shoes to fill, but Lana Condor is up to the job. Her role as Lara Jean in the To All the Boys series proves that she has what it takes to carry one half of The O.C.‘s best couple, Seth and Summer. Variety reports that Condor is currently working on a new live-action comedy series for Netflix entitled Boo, Bitch in which she’ll play a high school senior who’s “lived under the radar” but seizes the opportunity to “start living an epic life.” This new role sounds like excellent training to pull off Summer’s infamous quips and one-liners.

Seth Cohen: Fred Hechinger

Seth (Adam Brody)is a socially awkward, lovable eccentric who provides a healthy dose of comic relief in The O.C. Brody’s performance cemented Seth as one of the most iconic characters from any 2000s teen dramas.

Any actor who takes on the role needs to be able to portray Seth’s sardonic streak while being a convincing romantic partner for Summer. Fred Hechinger would make a great choice to follow in Brody’s footsteps. Hechinger has had roles in Eighth Grade, Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy, and The Woman In The Window but hasn’t yet had this kind of leading role in a TV drama, though his previous work has shown he has the talent. Furthermore, Hechinger has experience playing a nerdy, likable teen in a hyper-privileged world, as seen in his work on The White Lotus.

Marissa Cooper: Yara Shahidi

Marissa (Mischa Barton) is the girl next door with a twist. Throughout The O.C. she struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and has some of the heaviest storylines on the show. Marissa’s arc culminates in her untimely death at the end of season 3.

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Yara Shahidi is best known for her role as Zoey Johnson in the comedy series Black-ish. While the more serious dramatic tone of The O.C. would be a departure for Shahidi, the reprisal of her role in Grown-ish means she’s no stranger to the themes of sex, drugs, and relationships. The success of Grown-ish also shows that Shahidi has the talent and charisma needed to carry a leading TV role, so she would make a great fit for a re-cast of Marissa.

Ryan Atwood: Connor Jessup

Ryan (Ben McKenzie) is the central character in The O.C. In a classic teen drama trope, working-class Ryan is taken in by the wealthy Cohen family. The series then follows him as he adjusts to his new life in Orange County. He’s a multi-faceted character who’s often burdened by a hero complex.

Any actor filling McKenzie’s shoes needs to be able to masterfully portray Ryan’s many layers. Connor Jessup’s performance as Tyler Locke in Locke & Key shares similarities with Ryan: a strong hero who shows a sensitive and caring side to those he loves and is willing to do whatever it takes to fight for them. However, Ryan has a far more angsty edge and a darker backstory than Tyler, so it would be fascinating to see Jessup take on the heavier parts of the role too.

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