Of all the televised scripts demanding such carefully crafted diction, One Tree Hill’s upcoming series finale ranks #1. As The CW’s cherished melodramatic series’ expiration date nears, it’s time to look back at the last nine years.
In 2003, Mark Schwahn introduced viewers to the social drama surrounding Nathan (James Lafferty) and Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray)’s upbringing in small town North Carolina, affectionately known as Tree Hill. During high school, the half brothers argued about basketball, girls and family matters until eventually they realized it was easiest to set their angst aside long enough to become friends. Meanwhile, somewhere in between the love triangles and tournaments, the characters of One Tree Hill captured our hearts and became weekly fixtures on millions of viewers’ TVs.
Teenage Heartthrobs and Young Professionals
The fun mix of pillow fights, cheerleading tournaments and road trips throughout the characters’ high school years made One Tree Hill an instant hit. Designer extraordinaire Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush) integrated high fashion into an otherwise boring rural setting, proving that the previously sleazy head cheerleader and student council president is as intelligent as her Clean Teen counterparts. As Brooke and her equally ambitious friends accomplished their dreams, conflicts with their parental units remained fundamental entertaining story lines.
One Tree Hill’s team strategically bypassed the characters’ college years to avoid the plague suffered by other TV sensations that captured characters’ maturation in dorm rooms, a trend which presumably inspired Desperate Housewives to follow suit. Once One Tree Hill’s actors recovered from the series fast forwarding through time, they ventured behind the camera; Chad Michael Murray, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Sophia Bush and James Lafferty have all tried their hand at directing, but failed to rescue the show.
Where are the Indie Sensations?
Since its premiere, One Tree Hill successfully launched and supported the musical careers of Gavin Degraw, Kate Voegele and Jana Kramer among others. From the episode titles to Peyton, Haley and Chris Keller’s Red Bedroom Records, One Tree Hill regularly incorporates music as an integral part of the show.
Peyton’s alt-rock playlists featuring Tegan and Sara that echoed The OC‘s upbeat hipster music are greatly missed. The earlier seasons of One Tree Hill introduced me to indie musicians who remain heavily played on my iPod, but I can’t remember the last time an episode motivated me to support a new band. The increasingly sappy plots are now painful distractions from the mediocre indie folk tunes playing in the background. Hence, it’s unsurprising that they haven’t released a soundtrack album for the show since 2008.
Triumphs and Failures in Season Nine
One Tree Hill’s ninth and final season has featured Nathan’s kidnapping, Clay’s therapy, and a slew of secondary characters caught up in romantic entanglements. Through a mixture of heartwarming and eye opening scenes, the producers delicately dealt with Chuck’s abusive father and effectively concluded the storyline by emphasizing the importance of children speaking up.
When Lucas’s face graced our TV screens again in February, few fans could tweet positive commentary about his new ‘do. The actor we all grew to love spent so much time off set disconnecting from his character that Lucas’s reunion with Haley at the airport was dull and disappointing. Perhaps I’m just overly optimistic about his wife’s character, but if Peyton makes a surprise return to Tree Hill, I know she’d do it better.
The End of an Era
When the series ends, fans will be left wondering about the fate of child actor Jackson Brundage’s career and potential success of Sophia Bush’s upcoming pilot series, Partners, not to mention whatever happened to the rebellious Sam. After we bid farewell on April 4, fans will have to turn elsewhere for their fill of climatic car accidents and romantic love scenes in the rain – if they can tear themselves away from One Tree Hill DVD marathons, that is.
Unsure whether the series would be picked up for a ninth season, One Tree Hill redeemed itself with a moving season finale last year and hopefully the series finale next month will be equally satisfying. After all, The CW has allotted two hours for the TV event guaranteed to become a trending topic in entertainment news and social media, for which I’ll be tuning in.