Let him be blissfully typecast as Seth Cohen until the end of time!

By Isabel Jones
Dec 30, 2020 @ 8:45 am
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Credit: Kelly Chiello/InStyle.com/Shutterstock, Fox Searchlight, Twentieth Century Fox, Focus Features

Like many early-aughts tweens, I dreamed of owning a moose-embossed Abercrombie & Fitch wardrobe, prayed for the day I would finally need an underwire bra, and hoped my romantic future would hold a man exactly like Seth Cohen.

The O.C.’s sweater vest-clad outcast was unlike anyone I’d met in my homogenous Pacific Northwest town. Like me, he was Jewish, fluent in all things pop culture, and allergic to organized sports. 

Adam Brody, previously best known for playing Lane’s cool musician boyfriend in Gilmore Girls, was a fresh ball of clay in Hollywood’s teen scene, waiting to be molded by a major broadcast network. The popularity of The O.C.’s Seth seemed to dictate the actor’s final form: funny, sensitive “nerd” with indie music taste and an excellent sweater collection. And, for a while, it felt like that was what we were going to get — a career haunted by the ghost of Seth Cohen (and mediocre rom-coms like In the Land of Women). But then came … the bad guys. 

Brody began experimenting with characters that could be described as “the anti-Seth.” In 2009, he appeared in Jennifer’s Body. I went in expecting some iteration of the fast-talking, quip-ready Cohen. Instead, I found a Satan-worshipping musician named Nikolai who attempts to sacrifice a virgin in exchange for the success of his band.

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Who asked for this? I thought to myself, recoiling at the sight of Brody wielding a knife like an actual weapon (and not a tool for slicing bagels — when the bagel guillotine is dirty, that is). 

I recognize that no actor wants to be associated with one character through the entirety of their career. If that were the case, Friends would be on season 27, Robert Pattinson would slather himself in body glitter on the reg, and Kerry Washington would exclusively wear white suits.

But sometimes feelings outweigh rational conclusions, and it’s my feeling that Adam Brody should only ever play Seth-adjacent roles. 

Jennifer’s Body was only the beginning. Brody’s resume is littered with Anti-Seths, from Keira Knightley’s jealous and self-involved boyfriend (OK, maybe more Seth-like on paper than I thought … ) in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, to a banker unwittingly involved in organized crime in StartUp, or even an apathetic brother complicit in a murder plot against his new sister-in-law in Ready or Not (spoiler: he ultimately does the good guy thing, but it takes 77 minutes!). 

Perhaps the most heinous Anti-Seth of all (though a teenage-girl-murdering Satan worshipper leaves big shoes to fill) is Brody’s character in Promising Young Woman. He only appears in the first few minutes of the film, but his performance is chilling. He’s the sort of villain whose impact is bolstered by the all-too-mundane nature of his crimes. He’s that guy you know, the cute one who wooed you with flowers and lakeside picnics and then dropped a roofie in your lemonade. He’s a predator. 

I know Seth Cohen wasn’t perfect. He could be cruel, driven by id, dismissive and condescending. At 13, I didn’t care; at 27 (happy birthday to me), I’m a tad more wary. But I’m still protective of that 13-year-old, the one who saw Seth as a beacon of hope — a scripted emblem of what (and who) might await me outside the limits of small-town Oregon. 

Credit: Shutterstock

Seeing Brody play a would-be rapist is upsetting. Seeing anyone play a would-be rapist is upsetting, but there’s something particularly blood-curdling about watching an actor who was a Thursday night mainstay in your home for years, who decorated your walls and inspired your hopes for the future, reach such levels of on-screen depravity.

If Adam Brody read this article, I think he’d probably tell me to fuck off — and rightfully so. But I’d like to imagine that Seth Cohen would hear me out, make a joke about the villainous water polo players at the Harbor School, and then hand me an earbud to listen to Death Cab for Cutie’s latest.