TV Dramas have always interested me regardless of the plot. Crime, workplace, and family Dramas each contain a diverse and relatable cast, in which each characters’ background story truly becomes the sole reason of why viewers connect with the show and continue to watch week after week. One Tree Hill, named after a U2 song , premiered in September in 2003 on WB accumulating 2.5 million viewers on week one alone for the adult demographic ages 18 to 49.
Three years later OTH was sold to the CW network, home to many other teenage dramas like the hit series, Dawsons Creek. I have chosen episode 8 of season 1 to explain how OTH captivated its’ target audience while representing what High School was like in a small town in North Carolina by discussing the history of character roles, the social and cultural issues presented, and the authentic setting of the show.
Watching One Tree Hill is like walking back down the old halls of your hometown High School. You’ve got your jocks, cheerleaders, smart kids, and the quiet and misunderstood old souls. Despite their differences, each main character that embodies one of these roles somehow intersect with the others and form the cast of this intriguing show.
Sophia Bush plays the over sensual head cheerleader, Brooke Davis, whose own choice to promote herself in such a way, stems from her long history of “miss understood Daddy issues” constantly making her crave male attention of any sort. Lucas Scott, the shy, poetry writing, mystery man decides to give her that attention and is played by, Chad Michael Murry. Nathan Scott, played by James Lafferty as Lucas’ half brother, is constantly trying to live up to his harsh fathers’ impossible expectations as the most popular captain of the Basketball team. As you can imagine, the other main character roles follow this train of typical high school stereotypes.
There is something that makes One Tree Hill different from other TV Dramas dealing with the backstabbing and questionable morals of today’s youth, and that is the exploration of the reasons behind it. A major portion of this season, this episode in particular, is based on the mistakes of the teens’ parents when when they were teens, and how that continues to play a part in the students lives. The history between the Scott boys’ mutual father, Dan Scott, and the different relationships they have with their different Mothers’ is a crucial part to the background history of this show. I find this certain element interesting because we never see what actually happened in the past, but just by hearing about it viewers can put pieces together and understand why certain main teen characters act the way they do.
The Social issues presented in One Tree Hill were more complex and heavy than others of its time. The demographic responded so positively to the show that it won two Teen Choice Awards before the series finale in 2006. This show deals with range from death, divorce, infidelity, and absence of parents to teenage pregnancy, popularity, and peer pressure. In episode 8 titled, “The Search For Something More” Lucas, who is noticeably wise beyond his years, approaches his girlfriend Brook with the idea that she would want to read his favorite book. In return she smiles, winks and him, and proceeds to say, “Well if I do this for you, you must fulfill a pleasure for me in return.” Without having to mention it the viewers make the connection that casual sex is a normality for some high schoolers. Meanwhile, Nathan tries to meet the high expectations of his father, who constantly rubs his high school basketball glory days in his face. With the pressure of the rival game coming up Nathan goes to extremes in attempt to surpass his fathers point record and seeks out to by performance enhancement pills .
At the peak of the episode nearing the last few moments of the big game, we share Nathan’s perspective as his body surrenders to the substance and he blacks out on the basketball court. This was an important scene because taught teens the consequences of what could happen if you make the wrong decision and turn to substance for any kind of support. Underaged teen drinking is the final social issue brought up in this episode that is a clear indication of High School. In return for reading his favorite book, Lucas brings Brook to one of his favorite bars down town. A smokey lounge with beer and a pool table is the setting for this particular scene. When the waitress comes over to the couple, Brook hands her two fake ideas to which the waitress checks them both and says, “Two beers for Gretchen and Henry.” This was a clear reference to the fact that the ID’s were fake and they were not suppose to be drinking there, but it was expected of them to do so in their culture.
The authentic setting of this show creates a realistic, southern, suburban essence that makes the viewer feel that they were in a small town in North Carolina. Most outdoor scenes were filmed on the University of North Carolina Wilmington to make the made up North Carolina town a reality. The transitions between High School scenes always began with an outside shot of the One Tree Hill Ravens sign right outside the high school. Majority of the scenes were taken in one hallway lined with lockers and many extras playing typical high school students.
You can distinguish the social class of each main character by the transition shot of each other their houses before a scene takes place there. Lucas and his mother are lower middle class and live in a small two bedroom house that also describes their emotionally close relationship. Nathan’s house is a non traditional, 3 garage, mansion that describes the spread out and distant relationship of the family members that live there.
I was only in third grade during the September of 2003, and watching this series has given me a possible outlook about what High School was like for my brother at that time. I think it is interesting that even though this show took place a little over ten years ago, the issues and lessons discussed have stayed relevant to teenagers now. I think TV Dramas have an affective way of reaching a number of different audiences due to their constant connection with reality. I think episode 8 of One Tree Hill really embodies what reality is like for High School students through the different character roles, the social issues presented, and the authentic setting of the show as a whole.