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Seth, Summer, and Anna on 'The O.C.'

The O.C. Set Had A Real-Life Love Triangle Featuring Seth & Summer

Well, Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson.


Jealousy-spurring love triangles are one of the hallmark tropes of teen dramas. Think: Twilight, The Summer I Turned Pretty, and The O.C. While Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts were always endgame, there was one particular character who had a habit of getting in the way: Anna Stern. Summer and Anna were both vying for Seth’s affections — and according to Rachel Bilson (who played Summer), the tension between this trio wasn’t entirely scripted.

ICYMI, Bilson dated Adam Brody (who played Seth) for three years while they were filming the show. Although they didn’t end up together like their characters, there was one big similarity between their IRL relationship and on-screen romance: a tension-filled love triangle.

In Welcome To The O.C. — a Nov. 28 book by the show’s creators, which shares BTS details — Bilson explained there was a “weird underlying competitiveness” between her and Samaire Armstrong (who played Anna), per Us Weekly. Apparently, Bilson suspected that Armstrong “had a crush” on Brody, even though Armstrong had a boyfriend at the time.

“Sometimes life imitates art. We were always friends and friendly, but then there was always this weird undertone,” Bilson said in the book.

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This wasn’t the first time Bilson discussed the connection between fiction and reality. “When Seth is in the bedroom with Anna and she goes to kiss him, I see Samaire, like, slip tongue,” she recalled on her Welcome To The OC, B*tches! podcast in July 2021, per People. “I get a little jealous and I'm like, ‘Um, what are you doing slipping tongue in his mouth?’ It was like the real-life [love] triangle playing out as I'm watching it. There's no tongue in television!”

“I feel like it definitely played out a little bit in real life for a minute, even though not really-really. But I remember the tension with Samaire, like, a little bit because it was just this triangle or whatever,” Bilson added at the time.

In the Welcome To The O.C. book, Armstrong agreed that there was “definitely” a triangle brewing — just not a love triangle. “[It was] like, ‘Oh, there’s my friend with my other friend. They’re dating and what, am I the third wheel? Should I come back later?’” Armstrong said, per Us. “It was art imitating life in many ways, and that part was not lost on us.”