by Nick Wilkinson
The Angst Filled Years of One Tree Hill.
OK, I’m not even going to try and hide it, I am One Tree Hill obsessed and I don’t care who knows it. This show reflected in me all the inner turmoil, angst and struggle that I assumed was going on all around me as a teenager and I was just missing it.
To be young and rich and beautiful, or well at least that’s what I hear!
Like its predecessor Dawson’s Creek, this was a self written and created, semi-autobiographical tale of teen woe and angst. Stars Chad Micheal Murray (Lucas) and actress, video jockey for MTV Hilarie Burton, even both appeared on Dawson’s Creek prior to OTH.
One Tree Hill premiered on September 23, 2003, on The WB Television Network and originally focused on the relationship between half brothers Lucas & Nathan Scott. Using basketball as a backdrop for angst (something rarely seen, usually football is the sport of angst) and set in the fake town of Tree Hill, North Carolina this epic teen drama focused on marketing straight for teens and used not only social media but brand advertising, musical tie-ins, product placement, musical tours featuring cast members of the show, and much more to capitalize on the teen demo.
The first four seasons of the show focus on the main characters’ lives through their high school years. With the beginning of the fifth season, creator and writer, Mark Schwahn advanced the timeline by four years to show their lives after college, and he made it jump a further fourteen months from the end of the sixth to the start of the seventh season.
To me the heart of OTH was always the relationship between the brothers, Lucas and Nathan, it was complex, angry, exciting with possibilities and even a little nerve racking at times but the themes of abandonment and even family are ever present in this modern teen marvel.
Using social media, pop culture, fast paced basketball action and most importantly a rocking soundtrack, One Tree Hill made every attempt to grab views from across the teen genre.
By making one of its main characters (Bethany Joy Lenz) Haley a musician, OTH allowed us access into the small world of music that these kids lived in. We saw concerts and performances from Gavin Degraw and Sheryl Crow as well as modern tracks from people like Lupe Fiasco, Gym Class Heroes and Fall out Boy, Pete Wentz even did a short run as a guest star, playing of course, himself and even the older music fans will appreciate nods to The Clash, Jeff Buckley, Paul Westerberg, and if that wasn’t enough, Huey Lewis (yes, of The News!) stared as Haley’s father in multiple episodes.
While still addressing all the modern “pressures” of being a teen, OTH also tackled things like date rape, homophobia, school shootings, drugs, teen sex & marriage, really, almost everything your standard teen melodrama would be expected to cover One Tree Hill did it, they just did it with style.
One Tree Hill being one of the few dramas that (although still briefly) does not simply never show the parents or the effect they or their absence may have had on their children. Brooke is broken and seeking refuge in the arms of anyone who might love her, Nathan is driven to the point of breaking like his father, Peyton deals with not only the loss of her biological mother but adopted mother as well on top of her sea going father who is often out for long periods of time on boats, but more importantly they addressed these issues not just swept them away, more often these issues made the characters who they grew up to be and that as a writer and storyteller was something I was able to fall in love with.
Until we meet again, stay angsty my friends!
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