First Impression: One Tree Hill
The fall of 2003 brought a rare occurrence: Two teen dramas premiering at roughly the same time.
“Dawson’s Creek” had finished its run in May, and “The O.C.” was the first teen drama to follow in August. Then “One Tree Hill premiered in September. A bounty of teen drama goodness? Only if you watched both series… and I didn’t, at least not at the beginning.
For reasons I don’t remember today, I committed to watching “The O.C.” every week but only saw bits and pieces of “One Tree Hill.” In fact, the first full episode viewing of “One Tree Hill” that sticks in my mind is season 3’s game-changing episode 3.16, “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept.” I have vivid memories of watching that episode in my college dorm room and gasping when (14-year-old spoiler!) Dan shot Keith. I recall getting on the phone with a high school friend immediately after, talking through our tears and our shock.
That was in 2006, and in 2008 I had my first opportunity to interview some of the “One Tree Hill” cast at The CW upfront as part of my People internship (see photo above). I also chit-chatted with (now disgraced) creator Mark Schwahn at the event. He was perturbed that a promo for the season 5 finale, in his eyes, spoiled the outcome. I assured him that wasn’t the case as viewers still had no idea which love interest Lucas called and asked to marry him, only that he did call someone.
By this point, I was invested. I was rooting hard for Lucas and Peyton, even though I also liked Lucas and Brooke, as I caught up on episodes in syndication through SOAPnet. And when I started TeenDramaWhore.com later in 2008, my fandom went to new heights as I interviewed more of the cast, along with other key players from behind the scenes. (Little did I know at the time that I’d one day move to Tree Hill — Wilmington, North Carolina.)
It was no secret, however, that my fandom waned during seasons 7-9, though I continued to share commentary about each episode on Twitter through the very end. And because of the overlapping success of “The O.C.,” I strongly believe “One Tree Hill” never got the attention and acclaim it deserved. But there is no examining the teen drama genre without it.
ONE TREE HILL (September 23, 2003 - April 4, 2012)
Favorite Seasons: 3-6
Favorite Episodes: “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” (1.15), “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept” (3.16), “Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them” (3.17), “Over the Hills and Far Away” (3.21), “The Show Must Go On” (3.22), “Some You Give Away” (4.09), “Songs to Love and Die By” (4.10), “I Forgot to Remember to Forget” (5.05), “What Comes After the Blues” (5.18), “Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Part 1” (6.01), “Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.” (6.03), “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight” (6.17), “Forever and Almost Always” (6.23), “Remember Me as a Time of Day” (6.24), “I and Love and You” (7.07)
Favorite Characters: Peyton Sawyer, Lucas Scott
Favorite Couple: Peyton and Lucas
On my end, I started watching OTH in 2009. I was working in a video store (!!!) and we had the DVDs for season 1-4. I had heard about the show before, but thought the premise about two half-brothers raised separately and being (initially) enemies wasn't appealing to me. I also don't really care about sports and the show seemed to be heavily about basketballs. A co-worker kept telling me I should rent them (we could rent DVDs for free) and that she was certain I would like it. I ended up doing it and loved those 4 first seasons! I really liked Peyton, I thought she was a unique character in the world of teen dramas and really identified to her. I recently starter re-watching OTH (but stopped after 10 episodes and went on to watch something else haha) and was surprised by how (in my opinion!) bad the pilot and first few eps were. I was trying to place myself in the shoes of a new viewers and I wasn't invested in any of the storylines or characters. I feel like in the more cut-throat world of streaming and shorter seasons, this project wouldn't have been greenlighted.