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Salaciousness and Surf in the C.C.

There are times when you go to a new restaurant and eat a meal and recognize what the cooks were inspired by; you realize you share the same tastes. Watching Lifetime’s sweetly low-key limited series Beach Girls, about pent-up emotions and buried secrets among adults and teens in a Cape Cod resort town, I had that same feeling. Even though the show is based on a summer paperback by Luanne Rice, its creators and the people at the venerable women’s network want their own The O.C., in much the way MTV, wanting its own knockoff of the Fox melodrama, brought out the reality soap Laguna Beach, now in its second season. Beach Girls delivers the same delectably class-based snarl of good-and-bad kids with good-and-bad adults against a backdrop of salaciousness and surf, but the softer, more melancholy version. In other words, the Lifetime version. I know a few parents who are proudly hooked on The O.C. and its tawdry, jokey storylines, inevitably drawn to it because their kids watched it. Beach Girls, which approaches its generation-gap drama more pensively and less exploitatively, but still boasts a gaggle of young hotties to balance the brooding sex appeal of older stars Rob Lowe and Julia Ormond, plays like something a mother could coax her teenage daughter to watch, and which both could enjoy.