Some (VERY) Late Thoughts on Season One of One Tree Hill

Travel back with me, if you will, to 2003, when the guys wore puka necklaces, the girls wore low-rise jeans, and a TV show called One Tree Hill appeared on our screens.

Well, not on my screen. But on some people’s screens. And now, in 2019, thanks to a friends’ VERY enthusiastic recommendation (that went something like ‘wtf you love Gilmore Girls but you’ve never seen OTH??’), I am catching up.

And, after finishing Season 1, I have some THOUGHTS.

In this first season of One Tree Hill, Lucas Scott joins the varsity basketball team, playing alongside his jerk-y half-brother Nathan. Nathan falls for Lucas’s best friend Haley. Lucas moons over Nathan’s ex-girlfriend Peyton and dates Peyton’s best friend Brooke. Lucas nearly dies in a car accident and his mom blames his uncle and so his uncle proposes to her, and it’s a whole big thing. And at the end of the season, Lucas decides to move out of Tree Hill with his uncle Keith, while Haley and Nathan… get married?


Honestly, my main reaction to One Tree Hill so far is that almost everybody here is a terrible person. Were the characters in these 2000s teen shows always this terrible, and I just didn’t notice because I was a teenager? Or is One Tree Hill special?

Lucas and Peyton are particularly awful. Lucas is dating Peyton’s best friend, and yet they make out in secret, lie to said girlfriend about it, and then treat her like the bad guy once she finds out because she doesn’t get over the betrayal quickly enough.

In a weird way, Peyton reminds me of Jess from Gilmore Girls, in that I think they’re both supposed to be PRETTY and INTERESTING and DEEP, but they’re really just jerks. Peyton’s hobby is driving through red lights on purpose, because someone driving through a red light killed her mom, and risking it makes her ‘feel alive.” Seriously. She knows how dangerous it is, and yet THIS is how she deals with her teen angst?? Someone could die, Peyton. Grow up.

Her other super deep, not at all weird hobby is having a web camera on ALL THE TIME. Note that she’s not being an internet pioneer and streaming any content. She just keeps it on 24/7 while she lives her life, which not only inevitably leads to her getting caught by her best friend for her cheating ways, but is also reckless beyond comprehension in an era where “don’t give out your name on the internet” was still standard protocol. I would not be surprised if there is some Very Special Plotline later about her having a stalker, because… she literally just streams her sitting at her computer desk, all day long.

I do love Nathan and Haley, or at least most of their stuff. Really, this should just be the Haley show. She’s wonderful. But again, they got MARRIED at the end of the season. They’re high school juniors and they got MARRIED? THEY GOT MARRIED? I sent many texts to my friend that were basically just those words, over and over again. They got married AND HER PARENTS APPROVED OF IT? THIS was the best solution to 17-year-old Haley feeling insecure in her relationship???

Everyone is terrible.

I was also initially very frustrated by Brooke’s characterisation, because she really only had one characterisation — school slut. No other interests, no other personality, nothing. Luckily, while other characters’ treatment of Brooke didn’t improve much as the story went on, the writing for her did. Yay for female characters with depth AND cleavage.

Of course, no teen show is complete without a set of parental figures with dramatic pasts whose flaws mirror the flaws of their children. Most of the moms are nice enough, but the DAD figures? Ouch. Nathan and Lucas’s dad Dan is truly despicable, on a “twirling his villain moustache while tying to the train tracks and telling you he doesn’t really want to do this” level, but I’m also not quite here for Uncle Keith either. I’m definitely not here for him drinking, driving, getting into an accident, proposing to Lucas’s mom Karen after she gets upset about said recklessness, and then deciding to leave town because oh no, a woman didn’t want to go from being friends for 16 years to being engaged in one step, while still dealing with her son being in the hospital.

I’m not quite here for ANYBODY other than Haley, to be honest. Even the lovable coach figure has an episode where he responds to Nathan and Lucas fighting by kicking them out of a school bus, miles from home, without their wallets or phones. These are TEENAGERS under his care. Surely he should be fired for literally endangering them, rather than praised as the world’s most inspirational coach? And yet.

Why are they all so terrible? And why can’t I stop watching anyway?

What do you think?

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