The Two O.C. Stars That Didn't Get Along On Set

"The O.C." was a modern American soap opera that began airing on Fox in 2003, with its final season concluding in 2007. The series follows the life of a troubled teen taken in by a wealthy couple who live in an upper-class neighborhood in Newport Beach, Orange County, California. The show's plot consisted of typical teenage problems and experiences like break-ups, sex, and family issues.

To those watching, the cast of "The O.C." seemed like a tight-knit group. However, all of the onscreen chemistry and friendship did not translate off-camera. Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) and Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) were best friends and the two female leads on "The O.C." The characters may have been BFFs, but the two were definitely not as close off-screen. Eventually, Barton revealed that she felt ostracized from the group, which led to Barton's controversial decision to quit the show

Barton opened up to E! News in a 2021 interview about her uneasiness with the cast while filming. "It's a bit complicated," she told the outlet. "It started pretty early on because it had a lot to do with them adding Rachel [Bilson] in last minute as — after the first season — a series regular and evening out everybody's pay. And sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really s****y." But that's not how everyone remembers it.

The post-show feud explained

In reality, Mischa Barton and Rachel Bilson are completely different from the characters they played on television, and it has become clear that the two were not close at all. In a June 2021 episode of the "Welcome to The O.C., B*****s" podcast, which Bilson hosts with her former co-star Melinda Clarke (Julie Cooper), Bilson responded to Barton's claims, calling them "misinformation," and even invited Barton on her podcast in hopes to clarify some things and clear the air, but never heard back. "In one of her first comments she said that I was added last minute after the first season, which is actually completely false and not what happened. I was like, 'Well, that's misinformation. Where is she going with this and what is she trying to say?' I would actually like to talk to her and find out what her experience was from her perspective. I saw things a little differently, I guess," Bilson shared on the podcast (via Hello!).

Barton told E! News she quit the show due to bullying and exclusion. "There were people on that set that were very mean to me. It wasn't, like, the most ideal environment for a young, sensitive girl who's also been thrust into stardom to have to put up with," she said. When it comes to that claim, Bilson explained on her podcast, "I don't know who she's referring to. I didn't personally witness any of that, so I don't know who she's referring to or what, because I didn't see it myself."

What really happened after Barton quit the show?

While it was initially unclear whether Barton was fired from "The O.C." or if she left voluntarily, the actor insists that the decision to leave was her own. "I just had a lot in my career that I wanted to do and accomplish. I felt like things were really heavily reliant upon me, and I was getting no time to do any of the other offers that were out there," Barton said in an interview with The New York Times.

After Barton left "The O.C.," there were rumors swirling that Rachel Bilson was encouraging her co-stars to alienate Barton following her exit. An insider told Radar in 2013 that Bilson "was the one who basically made it be known that it's okay for everybody to wash their hands of Mischa and not forgive her past transgressions. It's really sad because Mischa's literally trying to set up dinners to make amends and Rachel is telling everybody to 'ignore her and she'll go away.'" 

However, a representative for Bilson quickly shot down the claims and told E! News, "There simply is no truth to it at all. Rachel has no ill will toward Mischa — she has and will continue to wish her well." Barton then responded on Twitter, calling the situation "hilarious." Currently, the feud seems to have subsided, but OG fans of "The O.C." must wonder if Summer and Marissa's feud will end like Ryan and Kevin's.