Tonight marked the last episode ever of nine seasons of the beloved teen drama One Tree Hill. And while the show had its ups (the complex relationship between Dan, Nathan, and Lucas; Nathan and Haley’s entire relationship) and its downs (crazy nanny Carrie, anyone?), it was one that I remember growing up with. Much like previous generations felt themselves mature and experience life with characters from Seinfeld and Friends, my generation was given Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill.
I’ve been feeling really nostalgic about TV shows lately, having just written a piece for The Michigan Daily onThe O.C.(forgive my shameless self-promotion). One Tree Hill is another show that premiered a little bit too early for me to understand what was really happening; I was only 12 years old when it first aired. I didn’t watch the first few seasons on-air, but around age 15 I went back and obsessively watched seasons 1-3, and was hooked from that moment on.
In a way, I found myself in all of the characters. Brooke, though headstrong and flirtacious (and thus, very much unlike me), was actually a vulnerable girl under all of those layers, wondering who in the world would love her over her best friend. And that was something I could connect with. Romantic relationships have never come easily to me, nor did they come easy for Brooke. She had her heart broken more times than any other character by potential love interests, her parents, foster children, etc (the list really does go on and on). But she stood taller than any character through the adversity she faced, and was given a happy ending. There’s a lot to be admired in her: Perseverence and resilience legitimize her as a role model of mine, even though she is ficticious.
Peyton was an automatic connection. She was brooding and had a very keen sense of music. Her music taste matched mine impeccably and she too harbored dreams of entering the entertainment industry. So you can imagine my delight when Peyton successfully opened Tric. And then Red Bedroom Records. Everything that I had dreamed of in life was being lived out onscreen. And though it sounds trite, Peyton is one single reason out of thousands that encouraged me to follow the path I’m on today — that maybe I too could live my dreams the way Peyton had done so elegantly.
In Lucas, I found a literary companion. I pride myself on being a reader, but Luke far surpassed me. He read the classics, the contemporaries, and everything inbetween. I longed to be that cultured, longed to be able to quote Julius Caesar flawlessly the way he did. And though I never did achieve that height of literary prowess, I still found it easy to connect with a character that did.
I could go on and on about how much these characters mean to me. But that’s old news: By now you should all know how easily I create an emotional attachment to TV characters. But at the end of the day (or rather, at the end of 9 years) it’s amazing to see how each of us have evolved in many of the same ways as Brooke, Lucas, Nathan, Peyton and Haley did.
From where we began to where we’ve ended up, the journey has been a bumpy but satisfying one. Nathan transformed from a jackass jock to a caring father. Brooke became a successful entrepreneur instead of the “easy” girl she was in high school. And I changed from a shy girl with no sense of direction to a self-assured one with a path laid out for me.
From good story arcs to absolutely terrible ones, One Tree Hill was never afraid to take risks. The school shooting episode is one of those iconic episodes that will never fail to make me cry. Keith’s death is one that I felt rip through me, almost as if I was actually there next to Luke when it happened. And in a sense, we all were standing in the halls of Tree Hill High School, weren’t we? We all felt the blossoming first love with Nathan and Haley, the bitter rejection Brooke endured, and the helplessness that Peyton felt when learning of her real parents.
But next to plot lines as powerful as those were ones so terrible, I hope to never speak of them again after this post. Nanny Carrie’s abduction scheme was one of the lowlights of the series, something that would only exist in the alternate universe we know as Tree Hill.
I also want to forgive Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton for not returning to the show that made them famous, and I will. Though it would have been nice to see those familiar faces in the finale, the show proved early on that it could survive and thrive without its narrator, and the series ended no differently. Somewhere down that road, the Scotts live happily with their daughter Sawyer and the never-aging Comet. And I suppose I’ll have to be content with that.
After nine years, I want to celebrate the good, forgive (and forget) the bad, and remember that which we felt while in Tree Hill. Remember the music we were exposed to at Tric, the coffee we imagined we were drinking at Karen’s Cafe, and the gossip we felt we were a part of in Peyton’s bedroom. After nine years, the cast has grown up and moved on, and we can certainly say that now … so have we.
"Most of our life is a series of images. They pass us by like towns on the highway. But sometimes, a moment stuns us as it happens. And we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment… every part of it… will live on forever." - Lucas Scott (3.14 "All Tomorrow’s Parties")