Mischa Barton owned the aughts with her decisive, riveting portrayal as Marissa Cooper on Fox’s The OC (how was this show not on the WB? What alternate timeline is this?) Entertainment Weekly, using some archaic title last used on Clara Bow in the 1920s, branded the actress the “It Girl” of 2003. Nobody really knew what that meant, but it further enshrined Barton into the mythos of American legend status. Making an unprecedented impact in Southern California lore, she even became part of the Anaheim Ducks’ alternate jersey. Her likeness emblazoned the right sleeve of each player’s uniform, some article said, probably incorrectly. Though her highly popular turn in The OC ended in 2006, Barton remained on everyone’s radar until Elisha Cuthbert showed up with the perfect bangs, and ruined everything. There were bright spots, though, including a killer Irish stage production of Steel Magnolias in 2012 that slayed every literary adaptation ever made. This made up for her turn in old man Richard Attenborough’s Closing the Ring, a maudlin period drama with an array of gorgeous outfits. Sup, costume designer Hazel Webb-Crozier. Emoji preach.
The 30-year-old thespian returned with a vengeance in 2015, making eight movies in something like three months.* My film critic colleagues were especially acerbic. “Who?” Lance Carter of Daily Actor questioned when asked for his opinion on the actress. Glenn Heath, Jr. of San Diego CityBeat wouldn’t even text me back. So I turned to the staff of Cinema Spartan, hoping to get some academic feedback. Walking into Tom’s office, I interrupted him for a brief moment. “What do you think of the piece I’m writing about Mischa Barton,” I asked him. “I don’t know who she is,” he responded, lowering his glasses. So much ire, so little time. People have given short shrift to the aughts queen.
Even Android phones autocorrect Mischa Barton to Moscow Martin, a weird name that sounds like a character out of a Blake Edwards movie. In reality, the queen is making moves and doing well, despite the incessant hounding of online news rags. “What Happened to Mischa Barton?” one article headline reads. The answer is “Looking Fly AF in a Sweet Cardigan, Terrible Website Person”. She also makes nuanced Twitter updates about hat shopping that I could not go without. Let’s be real here.
I’m hoping that Carey Mulligan steps out on stage, during the Academy Awards, and presents Mischa with an honorary Oscar for being “More Rad Than Most of the Shit on This Show”. And as Barton steps up to accept her award, ever so gracefully, Mulligan weeps, Leo claps, Michael Fassbender nods solemnly, and fireworks pierce the sky outside of the Dolby Theatre as Barton grabs that Golden Boy and is like:
*We went over the research budget this month, so we couldn’t fact check this claim.