Cue Gavin Degraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and let’s head back over to the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina.
I’m a huge fan of One Tree Hill. The show is inspirational. I mean, some of the things that it touched on would hit my core and I would either be in tears, start thinking about how short life can be (while feeling ever ending at times). Thinking about how PEOPLE walk into our lives, and back out again. How we’re stuck with memories or regrets based on their momentary impacts.
FAMILY can shape us and sometimes break us if we let them. FRIENDS are a gift to us. Think about it: With family, we can’t pick and choose, but friends are these people that we connect with and they essentially become our family. I think the idea of friendship can be taken for granted, because these people voluntarily love us and choose to be around us. And I am not talking about normal acquaintances – I mean the people that know us better than we know ourselves and will do anything for us (and vise versa). The next time you see your friends, hug it out – just because. Then again, this too can be said for family.
Here’s a little background: One Tree Hill begins about the story of Lucas and Nathan Scott, half brothers fathered by Dan Scott (the funniest and most hated guy on the show). Lucas is the rejected son, but grew up with a supportive mother, Karen, and loving uncle, Keith Scott. Nathan is the spoiled rich brother who had a dad growing up, but was subject to the mental abuse of Dan. You see, Dan always wanted to win and be the best. When he didn’t go all the way in his basketball career, he pushed Nathan to be the best. And oh yeah, basketball is the common thread in the show – along with music, literature, and art. Both brothers have talent, but their different upbringings make them competitive and the game becomes more than a just a sport.
One Tree Hill is essentially about life, family, friendship, love, and loyalty. The show really allows the audience to grow with the characters and over time, you can look back at the spectrum of the characters’ growth and it is a beautiful thing.
Here’s what I love about the show:
I mentioned earlier that Lucas, the protagonist of the show, grew up without a father. However, I should rephrase that by saying that he grew up without his biological father, Dan. But, the thing is that he was better off without the SOB. Lucas had Karen and Keith, two people that raised him to have character and to be the best version of himself – no matter what life threw at him (and it threw some mean curve balls). When Lucas decided to go for his dreams (basketball and later writing), the lessons that Karen and Keith taught him shaped him to be a person that would inspire his friends and family.
Though Brooke Davis virtually grew up without any sort of parental support, she managed to allow her friends to teach her valuable lessons and to let her own mistakes shape her to be and do better. Her parents financially supported her, but love was the missing factor for a while. Until she became a successful fashion designer, her parents were no where to be found. Her mother, Victoria, became her MANAGER and their relationship was vile until Brooke had the strength to rise up and teach her own mother what it meant to love.
As a teen, Nathan was the most grown up in his household (and that’s saying a lot). His parents couldn’t seem to grow up and rise up. Dan was probably the worse person to be raised by and Deb (Nathan’s mom) was too strung out on prescription pills (because she was married to Dan) to be coherent enough to be a mom to Nathan. Nathan’s love came from Haley and their support of each other lead him to teach his parents a thing or two about being a family. Through all of the crap that Nathan had to put up with (including Dan’s “betrayal” of his own brother), Nathan had enough love from Haley and their own family to forgive the broken one that he was raised by.
Off camera, Haley grew up with a large and supportive family, but Lucas and Karen were her surrogate family while hers travelled and led their own lives. It seemed that she was the most adept to “staying” (until she left) among her parents and many sisters. Her parents idea of parenting was teaching their children valuable lessons, and once they were adults – they were on their own to use those lessons to be whoever they wanted to become. A very loose way of parenting, I think. They were free spirits, though and Haley was mature for her age. Haley and Lucas’s close friendship kept her grounded until she fell in love with Nathan (and later music) and was starting to find her own way. One of the saddest moments in the show is when her mother, Lydia, returns to Tree Hill only to spend one last moment with her daughters.
Adopted, Peyton also grew up with a limited amount of parenting. You know something, all of the (teen) characters basically had a fractured family. I don’t know if that can be said about ‘real life’, but jeez, this is kind of sad the more I think about it. Anyway, Peyton lost her adoptive mother when she was young and her adoptive father travelled a lot for work and was hardly ever present. But, Peyton was truly loved by the both of them and this made her kind of a downer (but very artistic). Eventually, a handful of Peyton’s ‘real’ family walked back into her life and she struggled with not having them growing up and allowing them to affect her present life. Again, another sad moment is when Peyton’s biological mother, Ellie, comes back – and (you guessed it) leaves again.
Music, Art, and Literature
The lives of the characters are very much affected and shaped by their natural talents. Peyton is the artist and music enthusiast, Lucas is the writer (he too is very skilled at b-ball, but it’s not his first gift if you ask me), Brooke is the fashion designer, Haley is the brain and musician, and Nathan is the athlete. These talents connect the characters to one another and ‘save’ them in their darkest moments – but as well as produce some of their happiest moments.
Lucas’s love of literature and his first published work, An Unkindness of Ravens, lends to some of the show’s most inspirational quotes and narration.
Haley’s gift of music nearly destroyed her relationship with Nathan, but it also made them closer than ever. She was her truest self when she was able to sing and be surrounded by music. This also taught Nathan to value his gift of playing basketball and to become even greater at it. Music played a huge part in the show (the show has one of my favorite soundtracks ever). Artists such as Gavin Degraw, Fall Out Boy, Explosions in the Sky, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Eat World, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and The Wreckers, Tyler Hilton, and many were featured. New artists debuted on the show and Bethany Joy Lenz’s (Haley) real life musical ability was spotlighted.
“The boy saw the comet, and suddenly his life had meaning”
Lucas and Peyton’s relationship was the stuff of legend. In the beginning, the two of them were connected by their mutual brooding, but their connection exceeded that throughout the show. Again, because they were both artists in their own rights, they found a connection that out-phased everything else.
When Peyton was too afraid to let someone love her, Lucas moved on to Brooke, which I think was genuine, but not true love. Brooke was merely a substitution and Lucas was someone that made Brooke feel insecure about herself. He never truly let her in as he was subconsciously (and consciously) waiting for Peyton to realize the truth. Of course with all love triangles – things got very messy, especially since Brooke and Peyton were best friends.
When the three of them were honest with themselves and each other, Lucas and Peyton finally got together. But with love, the road is filled with many obstacles and detours. For years, these two continued to fight for each other (even when others were in their places – cough Lindsay, cough Julian). Both of Lucas’s novels were about Peyton, even when he thought they weren’t. The Comet He subconsciously wrote to her to let her know – “It’s you, Peyton.”
“Always and Forever”
Nathan and Haley had one of the most surprising, but beautiful relationships. They started on the opposite ends of the high school totem pole – the jock and the brainiac. Yeah I know, stereotypes, but they come from somewhere right? Anyway, while Nathan was getting tutored by Haley, he fell in love with her and she with him. Kind of a Cinderella story.
But again, love is not this smooth sailing thing. They got married in high school – so they still had a lot of growing up to do on their own ends. They had yet to realize what they wanted for themselves and from each other. Indeed it was a bumpy ride, but this couple seemed to be the one that the others admired and aspired to be. For the most part, they were together through the length of the series. Always and…
“Brooke Davis is going to change the world someday, and I’m not sure she even knows it”
Brooke is my favorite character in the show. She began as the stereotypical cheerleader – boy crazy and kind of ditzy. She ‘slutted’ herself around during the first few years of high school, until she had her heart-broken by Lucas. Actually, she still kind of ‘worked her magic’ after both big splits with Lucas. Brooke fell so hard for him that somewhere in the process, she lost herself, but eventually found someone that she didn’t even know that she could be. For a while, she put all of her energy into partying and dating, because the alternative – the big picture- was something that she didn’t want to think about.
After being the third wheel in Lucas and Peyton’s love story for far too long, Brooke made a name for herself by creating her own fashion line and grew up to be a responsible and tough as nails chick.
Eventually though, she wanted more than just work and money, and sought after forming her own family – because hers sucked. After fighting with her mother and dating the wrong guys, she wanted a family that was truly her own.
Eventually though, she got everything that she could ever want – literally taking a few cuts and bruises to get there.
“Every good story needs a villain, I’m sorry but I’m yours”
Dan Scott. The most hated guy in Tree Hill. Like the quote says above, every good story needs a good villain, and this guy takes the cake. I’ll try to list some of the crap Dan did in the series and you try to figure out how he continued to worm his way into his family’s lives. First and foremost, he truly was a self-righteous guy.
The next thing (and creating the premise of the show) he left Karen while she was pregnant with Lucas. He then knocked up Deb and stayed with her all in a matter of months. Then, he pit Nathan against Lucas, making Nathan feel more superior. He chastised Keith for sticking around and supporting Lucas, when he was too proud to do so himself. Few years later, after all of the pushing to be the best, he alienated Nathan and Deb – making them two more people to hate him. There’s also a bunch of crap that he pulled with Whitey – the basketball coach and voice of reason in the show’s the show’s early seasons. Their feud made up for some great moments.
I can skip all of the bullying that he continued to do, including paying someone to fall in love with and break Keith’s heart. I mean, the guy was truly an ass, but there’s one thing that he did that sent the characters and the show on a painful path – shooting and killing Keith – his own brother. Yep, he took away the person that everyone loved, because he envied him. Pretty Shakespearian, huh?
As you can imagine, the characters would never be the same again and Dan could never truly be a part of his family. Though honestly, Nathan was someone that he truly loved and in some way, he tried to make him a better man than he ever was or could be. When Nathan became a NBA player and had a family of his own, the thing Dan regretted the most was not being a part of it. Hey, he even regretted not being a part of Lucas’s family. Their hatred didn’t stop him from trying though, because –
An Unkindness of Ravens
As mentioned before, basketball is a huge part of One Tree Hill. In the beginning, it was used to pit Lucas and Nathan against each other, but before long, it was the game that brought ALL of the characters together. Though I enjoyed all of the competitiveness and how the feud made for comedic moments – it was when the game fostered moments of joy that made it special.
For a while, Lucas and Nathan fought over the game and kept score of who was the best, but it was indeed Nathan that was the most gifted at it. From being someone raised to be competitive and have little character, the game was something that he truly loved. Before we knew it, Nathan was training to be the best – not just at the game – at being a husband, a brother, a father, and a son (to Deb). He rose above Dan, but became all that Dan wanted him to be and more.
Lucas also loved the game, but his role exceeded being just a player. Inspired by Keith and Whitey, Lucas became a coach to share with the next generation all that he learned from the game. He even helped Nathan get back on track after his accident.
I’ll end this, because my caffeine high is coming to a halt. There’s so much more to talk about, but the best way to appreciate the show is to watch it. So yeah, pop some popcorn and binge watch. Don’t forget to take in all of the inspiring moments. Dance to the music. Cry when the ones you start to love – leave. And laugh at all of Dan’s belittling and Nathan and Whitey’s incredible comebacks.
‘Til next time.