NEW YORK – On Thursday night, "The O.C." (search) wraps up a season that featured relationship twists, a girl-girl kiss and George Lucas with a finale that show creator Josh Schwartz (search) says is "all about family."
On the last episode (8 p.m. ET) of the FOX teen drama's second season, several story lines will climax, including the building marital difficulties between Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan). Also likely to boil over is the impending brotherly feud between Ryan and Trey Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie and Logan Marshall-Green).
"Everything is coming to a head," Schwartz recently told The Associated Press. "It's really emotional and family driven. It's all about family."
Schwartz adds that he didn't even give the cast the last page to the script until they were shooting. Also, some old faces might pop up for the finale.
"You'll start seeing people from the past reappearing — not who you'd expect. And I think it's going to tie together the last few years."
Those last few years have been successful ones for "The O.C." and Schwartz, who at 28 is one of the youngest executive producers in TV. After FOX gambled by running the show's first season during the 2003 summer, the "new 90210" caught on among young viewers as well as many critics who applauded the intermingling of both teenage and parent characters.
FOX recently confirmed that the "The O.C." will be back for a third season. Though it rarely brings in top ratings (6 million watched last Thursday, compared to 26 million for "American Idol"), it is consistently popular for younger (and advertiser friendly) demographics.
"The O.C." has also spawned several soundtracks featuring its now trademark indie rock — which Schwartz says has become an attraction in its own right: "It's another reason to watch the show."
Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and the Killers have also frequently played cameo gigs at the show's local hangout, the Bait Shop.
This season also saw a controversial and much-hyped kiss between Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton (search)) and the Bait Shop bartender Alex (Olivia Wilde). But Schwartz says it was never meant as a ratings grab.
"The ratings weren't even in our mind," he says. "It was promoted in a way, I guess, that would make people think that, but it wasn't really about just watching two girls kiss. It took a lot of episodes to unfold and build. ... It was about so much more than just a kiss."
Relationships will continue to build next season, which Schwartz and the show's writers have already begun to plot.
Though the young producer says he at first struggled this year to match the expectations, he claims the show "found itself this year" and has only higher hopes for season three — when Seth Cohen and friends enter their senior year in high school.
"That's just so epic," says Schwartz. "If you're doing this kind of show, this is the year."