What is it about your favorite show that keeps you hitting the “next episode button” until 3am when you should be resting for your 9am the next morning? Our fascinations with certain networks and their television shows do not just happen by chance, but are specifically designed by the networks’ creators and producers writing the show to attract a certain audience. Plot, character selection, are just a few elements in creating a Tv show that are based off current trends, culture, and values of the particular demographic.
One Tree Hill kept a strong fan base because it involved its audience by relating the program to its current time, challenging social norms, and presenting shared substance that teens can learn from.
I’m going to take you back to a time where pooka shell necklaces and pink flip phones were considered necessities. Welcome back to 2005. As I stated in my previous blog, One Tree Hill was originally named after the song, One Tree Hill, written by a popular group of that time, U2. The theme song titled, Don’t Wanna Be, was sung by another popular artist, Gavin Degraw, and represents each characters’ strong personality and being who they are. I like how the producers decided to incorporate current popular music of the time to satisfy the viewers interests even more. There were also episodes through out the season that guest starred famous celebrities including Degraw, Pete Wentz, and James Van Der Bleek, the star of the same networks’ former drama, Dawson’s Creek. This form of intertextuality enhances the excitement for viewers because they can make a connection with their current culture to One Tree Hill. The fashion portrayed in the show was very current to its time. Lead star, Chad Michael Murray, was the number one advocate for the spiky blonde haired look, while Sophia Bush became the trademark of the forever famous, Juicy Couture Jumpsuit.
What the characters spent their social time doing outside the halls of Tree Hill High were very similar to what teens of that age did and STILL do now. Lucas spends everyday after school at the river court playing basketball with his friends, Brook and Peyton go shopping together down town, and on Friday nights the whole town comes together to watch the Tree Hill Ravens play their towns beloved game of Basketball. This show relates to its audience because it is relatable to the time.
In the beginning of the show, the characters presented a set ideology of what was considered “normal” in high school. Nathan plays a conceited jock, Lucas plays the quiet underdog, Brook plays the sensual head cheerleader, Haley plays the competent tutor, and Skillz plays Lucas’ river court friend but has an important position on the show. In the first few episodes each of these characters demonstrate the stereotypical actions that these rolls poses. Nathan and the basketball team steal a school bus to have a keg party out in a field, but get stopped by the police on the way there. The police ended up turning a cheek to all of the basketball players including Nathan to save them from loosing a chance at the championship, suggesting that jocks are superior to the rest of the student body.
Although he is just as good as Nathan, Lucas keeps to himself playing ball on the river court because he does not want to start confrontation with his newfound half brother, Nathan, and their shared father, Dan. Haley has been Lucas’ most loyal and trusted friend since they were little. She is the valedictorian of their class and tutors in her free time. Skillz is represented as “the Other” and plays the only actor of color on One Tree Hill. Towards the end of this season, these “normal” character rolls start to part from social norms and act in ways no show has ever portrayed them before. Lucas is confronted by the Tree Hill Basketball coach at the river court and convinces him to go up against his insecurities and half brother to play for the Ravens. Lucas rises to the top putting the dominant Nathan beneath him. It is rare to see the underdog succeed so early in a series. Meanwhile, Nathan takes interest into a new “type” that doesn’t shake her pompoms’ on the side line. With the intention to get in Lucas’ head, he pursues Haley in search for some “tutoring lessons”. Going against Lucas’ wishes, Haley continues to see Nathan and actually falls for him. Little did any of us know that the jock and tutor girl (her dreaded nick name) would create a love story lasting not only one season, but for the entire series!
Skillz plays the dependable and funny best friend who is well aware of the white population surrounding him. He ends up dating a blonde cheerleader from the High School team which seemed to be out of the context of his persona and character. I think this can be considered challenging a social norm back in 2005 because there were not many bi racial relationships presented on teen dramas as they are today. The point of these challenged social norms was to encourage the audience to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
The substance within the plot and featured throughout the episodes were serious and hopefully made some kind of impact on the viewers. The caution of drinking responsibly is shown when Haley drinks to much and ends up getting sick all over Nathan’s Dad. The seriousness of ingesting un prescribed performance enhancers is taught when Nathan collapses on the ground during a championship game. Peyton learns that she was actually adopted and searches to find her real mother in hopes to fill the empty space of her adopted mothers death. The most intense episode of the first season teaches viewers the importance of acceptance and respect. A student comes to school with a gun and holds the school hostage due to the rage he feels inside from feeling unwanted by his classmates. There is consubstantiation of substance between the show and the audience. The demographic of the viewers can identify with the characteristics of the cast and the experiences they go through because they are, or were once, in high school.
As a whole I believe One Tree Hill does an impeccable job connecting and involving their audience with the show. Although I was not in High School yet back in 2005, you can definitely get a sense of what the culture was like for students in high school back then. It is impressive to watch the plot line and characters grow so far from where they started out in the pilot episode. One Tree Hill has maintained a strong fan base by involving its audience by relating the program to its current time, challenging social norms, and presenting shared substances that teens can learn from.