When I was younger, I somehow missed the cultural phenomenon that is One Tree Hill . Most of my friends started watching this iconic masterpiece as it originally aired, through the filter of youth. While they were hanging with the Tree Hill Ravens in small town North Carolina, I was probably busy obsessing over Clark Kent in Smallville, Kansas. Fast forward to 2015 and I was tired of the constant One Tree Hill references my friends threw around. They got wide-eyed and dreamy when they talked about Nathan and Lucas Scott. They smiled broadly when they spoke of Brooke and Haley's friendship, reveling in their nostalgia that I could not relate to. I basically knew nothing about OTH except that it was filmed in North Carolina and that my roommate was an extra in a few episodes. Thassit.
Eventually, I was suffering severely enough from pop culture FOMO that I decided to give OTH a whirl. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to start finally meet the Tree Hill gang one fateful day during my senior year of college. I had no idea what I was getting into but I learned a lot of along the way.
To borrow from Saturday Night Live’s Stefon, this show has everything: a high school marriage, a stolen school bus filled with beer and an evil father who rivals Joffrey in terms of audience hatred. And while I loved every second of it, I know there are a lot of things I picked up on now that I wouldn't have as a 16-year-old with all my years of (relative) wisdom. At this point, I've already made my way through high school and graduated college. I've gone through some boyfriends, started friendships and ended some. I feel like I am better equipped to understand what the residents of Tree Hill went through and now I can watch from a whole different perspective.
And here's what the teen drama looked like in my wise(r) eyes:
1. Where Are The Parents? And Why Are They Always MIA?
Peyton’s dad is always on the high seas doing whatever he does; Brooke’s parents are rich but mysterious; and Haley's parents seem awesome, but get little to no screen time. And then there is Dan, who is basically always around, but is a monster. Then there's Karen, who is charged with keeping an eye on all of the teens in Tree Hill. No wonder there is so much debauchery going on. When I was in high school, I would have thought this is just how upperclassmen acted. I don't know about everyone else, but I had a house with parents that were always around, and a pretty strict curfew.
2. Dan Scott Is The Most Villainous Character In TV History
It may be a bold statement considering the plethora of villains on television, but I am going there. In my youth I surely would have seen Dan as a villain, but now I just don't understand how nobody thought to get a restraining order against him. How has such a man survived in this world without someone trying to kill him?
3. Deb & Karen Are #FriendshipGoals
I am sure as a teen my friendship goals would have aligned myself more with Haley/Brooke/Peyton, but now I am able to truly appreciate how hard it must have been for these two to put their differences behind them and become their own little squad. These two ladies support each other through some of the most dramatic plots of the show (having the same baby daddy! attempted murder!) and the showrunners could have taken the easy way out and pitted these two against each other for endless dramatic fights. Instead we get to enjoy the friendship between two strong women. I'm just glad that I was able to really appreciate that by the time I got to One Tree Hill.
4. Sorry, Lucas — No High School Boy Loves Literature That Much
The same goes for college boys. Even as an English major, I did not run into too many guys that were super into quoting dead authors. Or any authors for that matter. In my experience, guys are much more into quoting Entourage or How I Met Your Mother. Which are both great, but those shows aren't exactly Shakespeare.
5. Nathan & Haley Are Actually Perfect
On this point, my teen and current self would be in agreement. While it is 100 percent insane that these two got married in high school and had a baby before they even graduated, I can't help but love them. So yeah, in my teens I would have been obsessed with Nathan Scott. And not much has changed. Nathan is that senior guy who my high school freshman self would have loved to tutor. And now, I see Nathan as the type of guy who would encourage his lady in her creative pursuits, the way he encouraged Haley to continue working on her music. And seeing him with his kids in later seasons only helps adult me appreciate him even more.
6. Oh Hey, Feminism!
While I have always inherently believed in gender equality, it was only through my time in college that I came to understand what feminism is and claimed it for myself. I don't know if I truly would have been able to appreciate the gender-related topics that One Tree Hill explores through Anna's story line. Aside from being one of the few bisexual characters on TV at the time (and one of the only non-straight characters on the show) Anna refuses to be defined by any one label, whether it be her sexuality or her race. When she claims her bisexuality in the video for time capsule it is one of the series' most powerful moments, especially because the rumors of Anna's sexuality caused her family to have to move in the past.
Then during a sleepover with Brooke, Peyton and Haley, Anna attacks the double standard between men and women while discussing Brooke's friends-with-benefits relationship with Felix, Anna's brother. Out of all the shows that I did watch when I was younger, I don't ever remember hearing a monologue like Anna's that calls attention to double standards and the ownership that society feels over women's bodies.
In the end, I'm glad that I fell victim to my FOMO and decided to give One Tree Hill a shot. I thought it would just be another WB show with pretty people and a lot of drama. And while it is both of those things, the show has a lot of heart and I truly came to care about these characters. The lessons are timeless, whether you are 15 or 25. And now I can be one of those people that talks about One Tree Hill so much that other people feel the need to watch. All I can hope is that the cycle will go on and on and on.
Image: The CW; Giphy (8)