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California… or Melbourne… here Mischa Barton comes as star joins Neighbours’ cast

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California… or Melbourne… here Mischa Barton comes as star joins Neighbours’ cast


Cult Australian soap show Neighbours was ditched by Channel 10 in 2022 after 37 years on air. However, it has been rebooted by Amazon and will feature a very familiar face for Millennials – The O.C. alumni Mischa Barton.

Perhaps it’s down to bigger budgets that the streaming service has, but to pull in a big name like Barton proves that Neighbours isn’t selling its house just yet, instead a bit of a renovation.

Who is Mischa Barton?

International film and television star, Barton became a household name for those who went to high school in the 2000s. Each Tuesday night meant tuning in to watch The O.C., a teen drama based in the rich suburb of Orange County, California. Following the lives of Seth, Summer, Ryan and Marissa, the latter played by Mischa Barton.

The show was a huge success and has cemented itself culturally as no one can hear the first three notes of the opening track California by Phantom Planet without joining in with the words.

But now Barton’s taken a gig a little closer to home, as she will be joining the iconic Ramsay Street to be part of the next iteration of Neighbours. She will be portraying Reece, an American who’s moved to outer-Melbourne suburb Erinsborough, but she’s not quite who she appears to be.

Neighbours’ executive producer, Jason Herbison, spoke about the casting, “We are beyond excited to have an actor of Mischa’s calibre join us for the beginning of this exciting new chapter. Mischa’s character is dynamic and unpredictable, and will have an instant presence on Ramsay Street,” says Herbison.

 Mischa Barton also spoke about her exciting new role, “I’m excited to be part of this iconic show’s next chapter, and I am really looking forward to being back in Australia, a place I know and love! I think the character of Reece is going to be a great role for me to explore and play with.”

Will this reboot help the dying series?

However exciting the novelty of casting Barton, is it too little too late for the hit Australian TV show? In 2022, the finale raked in over 870,000 viewers and featured some of the previous stars including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Margot Robbie. 

It seemed like a fitting farewell for the series which had graced our screens for over three decades, but it wasn’t long after Ramsay Street’s storylines were tied up that the characters would be given second life. Amazon bought the rights for the show and announced that it would continue to produce episodes, with new and more modern storylines.

Rebooting series is a trend within the streaming world. Last year Australian 90s drama Heartbreak High was modernised and brought back for the Gen Z audience. Over-the-pond, Netflix brought back Sabrina the Teenage Witch. 

Is it our desire for nostalgia, or perhaps lazy writing which leans on the rebooting of pre-existing characters? Whatever the case, Barton is sure to bring in some views – how long they will stay for is the real question.


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Liv Croagh

Liv Croagh was the Managing Editor of Marketing Mag from September 2021 to September 2023.

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