Archive for December, 2008

As 2008 nears end, I’ve set up an ambitious plan to conclude the year with my top 10 reasons to love hating cilantro. Today: The Esoteric Company

With my favorite shows now off the air on HBO (Sopranos, Six Feet Under) or in off-season (Big Love), I’ve found the need to dig deep into the realm of shows I didn’t watch when they originally aired but can easily score for free online, on-demand.

The Grey’s Anatomy period was a sad, but short, experiment in this genre: Emergency, patient has an explosive lodged in his arm and Dr. Meredith Grey must hold it place or everyone will die!–but there have been more rewarding examples. Friday Night Lights was pure joy and Arrested Development requires no further lauding than it’s already received–that show’s hilarious. But the O.C., co-starring Peter Gallager and his eyebrows (to off-quote Sarah Vowell) is a current guilty favorite. Like any self-respecting O.C. viewer, I watch not for Ryan and Marisa, but for Seth Cohen and his delicious adolescent, but preternatural brand of sarcasm.

No matter how stupid any episode’s given plot, no matter how much the writers insist on giving pretty but retarded at acting Mischa Barton lines, Seth Cohen gets you through and keeps you coming back.

But of course there are other characters on The O.C., like the requisite parents in any high school primetime soap, and less requisite ones like the parents of the requisite parents–enter Caleb Nichol, father to Seth Cohen’s mother, WASPY but witty Kirsten.

A mere 24 episodes into the first season–dammit I just learned Caleb dies in the second season, beware, the internet will tell you everything!–I can tell you that Caleb’s deep distaste for cilantro has come up in not one but two episodes. In both cases, this hate arises as Kirsten scrambles to prepare one kind of high-society party or other for her difficult tycoon of a dad. “No no, dad can’t take cilantro” she warns the cooks and caterers as if this pickiness were the very proof anyone watching needed that Caleb really is a powerful, particular man. “He’ll notice even the slightest amount,” she continues.

In 2003 when the show first aired, the season in question, season 1, stretched to May of ’04, cilantro had considerably less notoriety. The two leading blogs in cilantro hate, this one and that other one didn’t even exist! People weren’t as into food yet, though they were getting there, and I think this choice of herb (also suprisingly referenced in My So-Called Life) was meant to show just how classy yet have-it-his-way Caleb was, may he rest in peace (Though I really suspect one of the writers hates cilantro, but that’s neither here nor there).

Well, if Newport Beach’s richest, most powerful man is in my club of hate, I can’t quite say why, but I tell you I’m thrilled to have him, may he rest in peace. There’s a kind of existential allegiance in those moments, when you realize that fictional or not, there are people you have deep, deep connections to (in this case hating cilantro but it could be something less meaningful I suppose) that you never would have known about, had it not randomly come up.

I like to think there will be a time in my life when someone, perhaps a real life Orange County real estate mogul, perhaps a holy rollin’ Republican evangalist, and I will share a special bond when we realize, over passed canapes, that we share at least one thing, and because of that one thing, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, a spoken or unspoken understanding and connection otherwise lost will have been shared.

But until this person rears his hummer-driving head, it’s me, Caleb Nichol and the countless unknown of you out there…


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