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Dance Better, Mischa Barton


Since The O.C. ended in 2007, Marissa Cooper fans — the Ringer staff included — have followed Mischa Barton with a level of fascination usually reserved for Facebook updates by the most popular girl from high school. We want to find out what she’s doing; we judge pictures of her; we wonder where she’ll end up. In this case, Barton has ended up on Season 22 of Dancing With the Stars, which is both surprising and not surprising at all.

We’ve accepted that this is her path, but we can’t accept that Barton almost walk-danced her way to a first-episode elimination last week. Please understand: Even though Mischa got the third-lowest score of the first episode, we’re still rooting for her. If there were a bracket associated with this show, we’d put our money on her. All we ask in return for our confidence is that she do better. So, Mischa, if you’re reading this, it’s time to step up your game. We have some notes:

Remember who you are. Last week, when that one judge called your dancing “sedated,” you looked like you were about to cry a little. Please remember that nobody can make you cry unless it’s Ryan Atwood or Julie Cooper. You, Mischa Barton, were once Marissa Cooper. You were the cream of the B-list. If you need a reminder of that, just look in the mirror and say, “Welcome to DWTS, bitch.” That should get you sufficiently hyped.

Shimmy more, dance less. Your partner, Artem Chigvintsev, spent much of your segment reminding the audience that you’re “not a natural dancer.” We agree. You’re more like a natural shimmy-shoulder-hair-tosser, and that’s OK. Just mimic whatever it is you did on the dance floor of those clubs you were regularly photographed leaving in the late aughts. And if that fails, just remember to …

… sell it. For three seasons you dredged up emotion and melodrama, episode after episode. Tap into that Method acting again and bring it to your choreography. Remember that passion you felt for Olivia Wilde in Season 2? You’re going to need it, because tonight is “Latin Night” and we really don’t want to have to switch to Team Jodie Sweetin this early in the game.

This piece originally appeared in the March 28, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.