So this is how it's done on The O.C. when the ratings start to dip: Marissa comes out as a lesbian! Series creator Josh Schwartz is confirming rumors that Mischa Barton's lovelorn alter ego will fall for another girl in early '05. "Marissa is at a point in her life where she's trying to find herself and her true identity," Schwartz tells "There's another character who she really connects with. It's a girl, which is not something Marissa may have anticipated. But she's willing and game to explore and experiment with that." Schwartz denies that the same-sex plot is just a stunt to boost the show's lagging Nielsens (last Thursday's episode hit a series-low 6.5 million viewers). "We cooked it up well before the show ever premiered this year," he says. "We're constantly looking at evolving and growing these characters. And challenging them. They're at that age where they're open to it. It was either that or Oliver's return." There he goes using that dreaded O-word again.