Ryan Atwood (Benjamin McKenzie) is a troubled teenage youth from the wrong side of the tracks in Los Angeles who finds himself on his own after he is thrown out of his own house. He finds a place to stay in the posh home of the Cohens in the wealthy community of Newport Beach, the O.C. (Orange County), California. Ryan is accepted by the stern but compassionate Sandford "Sandy" Cohen (Peter Gallagher), a lawyer who represented Ryan in the past for his miss-deeds. But Sandy's wife, Kirsten (Kelly Rowan), aware of Ryan's criminal history, is wary of this new house guest. The Cohen's son Seth (Adam Brody) bonds with Ryan quickly and shows him the ropes of the community and vice versa for Ryan giving advice to Seth about life and love. Ryan develops a crush on Marissa Cooper (Micha Barton) a neighbor girl who lives down the street and has problems with her not-so-sheltered existence in dealing with her distant father Jimmy (Tate Donovan) and weak-willed mother Julie (Melinda Clark). Also, Marissa's best friend, Summer (Rachel Bilson) is oblivious to the crush that Seth has on her, while taking a liking to Ryan. And so begins a new life for Ryan, the Cohens, the Coopers, and basically everyone else in the wealthy, picturesque, secretive, turbulent community of Orange County.