California Girl Math

Here’s How Much It Costs To Be Marissa Cooper From The O.C.

California girls are undeniably expensive.

We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Looks can be deceiving, especially on The O.C. In the pilot episode, you learn right away that bad boy Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) is actually a sensitive guy with a heart of gold. Similarly, Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) has a spoiled, rich girl rep, but thanks to her dad’s bad investments, she doesn’t actually have the funds to pay for her extravagant lifestyle. But before she finds out about Jimmy Cooper’s fraudulent ways, Marissa spends money left and right on everything from designer baguette bags to trendy low-rise jeans to maintain her it-girl status.

To understand Marissa’s financial situation, it helps to know how much her family actually has. Since Jimmy is broke after stealing money from his neighbors, all he has are his assets — and his wife, Julie Cooper, isn’t adding much to their bank account, either.

Julie attempts to make money by marrying rich, but she’s left with nothing when her marriage to Jimmy ends. Then, she moves on to Caleb Nichol — aka Seth Cohen’s grandfather — who is supposed to be one of the richest men in Newport Beach. However, Caleb dies on the brink of bankruptcy, leaving Julie with no money as well.

Julie has an estimated net worth of around $100,000, according to Bustle, that she gets from odd jobs, like her brief dating service business, magazine, and interior design opportunities. The home at at 6201 Ocean Breeze Drive in Malibu, California, that was filmed as the Cooper family home is currently estimated to be worth around $7.9 million on Zillow. If you add that to the family’s net worth, there’s about $8 million to the Cooper name. Calculating how much everything from Marissa’s wardrobe costs to her after-school activities, here’s how much she’d tap into that number in just one day.

The Long-Term Expenses: Going To Harbor High School Is Not Cheap

Warner Bros. Television

To truly understand what it’s like being Marissa, first put yourself in her shoes. As Ryan quickly learns, growing up in Newport Beach is vastly different from his neighborhood in Chino. Almost every character lives in a mansion, and as mentioned, the Coopers had a $7.9 million home. Zillow lists the four-bedroom Orange County stay at around $29,477 a month to rent in 2023. That comes down to about $951 per day.

When she’s not shopping at the Fashion Island mall or hanging out in Ryan’s pool house, Marissa is likely at Harbor High School. The private school from The O.C. is based on producer McG’s actual high school in Newport Beach, Corona del Mar High School. However, Corona del Mar High School is a public school, and that wouldn’t cut it IRL for the Coopers and Cohens. Instead, Marissa, Seth, Summer, and Ryan would likely go to the top-rated private school in Orange County, which is Sage High School. Tuition for Sage is around $51,800 a year, so dividing that by how many school days there are in California (about 180), it costs about $288 a day.

Total: $1,239

Marissa’s Morning Is Low-Maintenance With Subtle Makeup & A Y2K Uniform

Warner Bros. Television

6:30-6:40 a.m.: On a school day, Marissa would wake up and go through her extensive morning routine. Back in 2009, Barton told Cosmopolitan, “My hair’s a bit unruly sometimes, so I condition it lots.” And while the actor may not mind a “tousled” hair look, Marissa would definitely be opposed to that as the social chair of Harbor High School.

So, the first thing she would do is jump in the shower and condition her hair with an Herbal Essences conditioner ($6). Barton was an ambassador for Herbal Essences in the early 2000s, so it’s likely Marissa would also be a fan of the nostalgic brand. Afterward, she wouldn’t need to do too much to her hair since Barton says it “doesn’t dry completely straight” and Marissa is known for her beachy waves.

6:40-6:55 a.m.: Marissa would then get into her skin care routine, which Barton revealed to Cosmo was also pretty low-maintenance, consisting of face wash and a moisturizer with SPF. Anyone from the early 2000s may remember Barton in her Neutrogena commercials, so it’s likely Marissa would use a face wash like Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Cream Cleanser ($7) along with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($27). To finish her routine, Marissa would likely use Drunk Elephant’s viral bronzing drops, the D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops ($38), to achieve that fresh-from-the-beach glow. Marissa is an it girl, after all, so she’d definitely be using the same products trendy influencers like Alix Earle are loving at the moment.

6:55-7:15 a.m.: Marissa is truly a Cali girl at heart because she also has a simplified beauty routine. Aside from some lip balm — Barton told Cosmopolitan her favorite is By Terry Rose Lip Balm ($43) — Marissa often looks like she’s sporting the no-makeup makeup look at school. However, The O.C.’s makeup artist, Joni Powell, shared in 2013 to OK Magazine that some of her favorite eye products to use for shows include Chanel’s Longwear Cream Eyeshadow ($36) and Cargo’s TexasLash Mascara ($10). Marissa often has rosy cheeks as well, which can be accomplished with Glossier’s Cloud Paint ($20) — recommended by Supergreat.

7:15-7:30 a.m.: Despite being a private school, there wasn’t a uniform for Harbor High School — which can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it allowed viewers to really see Marissa’s amazing fashion sense and established her as an early 2000s style icon. However, having a full wardrobe is costly — and Marissa often wore a lot of designer ’fits.

The O.C.’s costume designer, Alexandra Welker, told Vogue that they would often put Marissa in a cropped blazer ($200) along with a mini skit ($78) as her “uniform” for school. With a very Y2K Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt ($110) or two — layers were everything — she would accessorize with statement necklaces ($68), a designer bag ($3,390), and ballet flats ($725). “I started mixing and matching really bright shoes with a handbag of a different color or metallics,” Welker said.

7:45-8 a.m.: For breakfast, Marissa would grab whatever is in the kitchen before heading out the door. If it’s a bowl of cereal (Barton said her go-to is either Rice Krispies or Lucky Charms), it would cost around $4 a box.

Total: $4,762

Marissa’s Afternoon Includes Classes At Harbor High School & Shopping With Summer

Warner Bros. Television

8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.: Marissa would likely get a ride to school from her neighbors, Seth and Ryan, so she doesn’t have to worry about gas. Since she’s in class most of the afternoon, she’s also not spending a ton of money while at Harbor High. For lunch, she’s been known to grab a Double-Double meal from In-N-Out Burger — like in Season 2, Episode 9 — which is about $11. She might also order a coffee from the school’s cafe ($5).

3:45-5 p.m.: After school, if Marissa doesn’t have a club meeting or event to plan as social chair, she’d likely hang with Summer by going to the Fashion Island mall. Unless she had something specific to shop for, she’d likely just browse. Marissa’s known for wearing Chanel (remember her iconic prom look in Season 3?), so she might pick up a similar white dress for $10,400. Welker also shared she often picked out Clare Vivier handbags ($385) for Marissa and put her in classic Ugg boots ($150), so she’d shop for those as well at the mall.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: Walking around would definitely help Marissa work up an appetite, so she and Summer would meet up with Ryan and Seth for dinner at the pier. The core four were often spotted at The Pier Diner, which doesn’t actually exist IRL in Newport Beach. However, Balboa Pier does have Ruby’s Diner, where you can grab a classic cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake for $20.

Total: $10,971

Marissa’s Night Out Includes A Concert & Drinks With Her Friends

Warner Bros. Television

7-8 p.m.: Despite having a pretty eventful day already, Marissa’s night has just begun at this point. After hanging out at the pier, she’d return home to get ready for a concert at the Bait Shop with her friends. Inspired by her look in Season 1, Episode 15, Marissa might wear a rocker baby tee ($35), low-rise jeans ($228), and the new purse she just bought. She’d crimp her hair with a $30 iron, and touch up her makeup with a smoky night look that includes Chanel’s eye pencil ($32), Rouge Tinted Lip Balm ($45), and silvery eyeshadow ($68) — all inspired by Marissa’s love of Chanel, Powell’s favorite products to use, and Barton’s preference for lip balm.

8:30-11 p.m.: Marissa, Summer, Seth, and Ryan were always checking out the most popular rock bands of the early aughts, like Rooney, The Killers, and Death Cab for Cutie. The 2023 equivalent of some of those bands would be Greta Van Fleet or Måneskin, and tickets for either of their concerts are around $124 on Ticketmaster.

At the Bait Shop, Marissa would also be drinking with her friends. It’s possible Ryan would be paying for each one if they were dating at the time, but let’s just assume Marissa gets two beers for $7 each.

11:30 p.m.-midnight: Marissa gets ready for bed once she gets home, which includes taking off her makeup with cleansing wipes. Barton told Cosmo she always keeps wipes, like Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes ($7), next to her bed. She’d use the same cleanser and moisturizer from her morning routine, then get into a cute and comfy pajama set ($74) before drifting off to sleep.

Total: $657

Overall, It’s Expensive To Be The It Girl Of Newport Beach

She may be a low-maintenance Cali girl on expenses like food and drinks, but staying on trend wasn’t cheap for Marissa Cooper. Marissa’s spending habits toward the beginning of The O.C. rival Manhattan’s elite, Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl — another series from Josh Schwartz — and she ends up spending somewhere between the two NYC besties.

Of course, her love of designer clothing and handbags may have done some damage on her credit card, but Marissa is still remembered as a Y2K fashion queen. So, while it wasn’t great for the Cooper family fortune, it did leave a lasting legacy.

Luckily, Marissa has a full closet to pull from once her family goes broke, so she can keep turning out trendy ’fits. If she budgets herself by not spending anything on new clothes, her daily budget actually goes down quite a bit to only $547 — not including her school and home. That’s pretty reasonable for a teenage girl. And after Marissa’s family loses its money the first time, Caleb comes in to save the day almost right away.

When they lose their money a second time, Julie lives in a trailer park so she can afford to keep sending Marissa to Harbor High. However, that’s only temporary. Julie soon falls for Summer’s dad, Neil Roberts, who’s able to support the Coopers’ spending habits once again with his fortune. If it wasn’t a part of the plot, you wouldn’t even notice that Marissa is dealing with financial problems at all — especially since she’s able to stay so stylish

Either way, saving money by not buying new clothes and just spending $547 a day is a much more manageable budget for anyone not living in The O.C. universe. Splurging to have Marissa’s fashion sense every once in a while, though, is fun if you’re able to. As she once said in Season 3, “I’m proud of what I did, and I’d do it again.”

Total: $17,629