Well, I guess… Spoiler alert?
One Tree Hill’s ninth and final season was broadcast in January of this year. Following its premiere in September of 2011, the show is now one of the longest-running teen dramas, eclipsing programs such as Dawson’s Creek and The OC. I’ve been a fan of the show for a couple of years now (thanks to dvd releases- it never screened properly on television here), so I’m using this post to sort of express some of the analysis I’ve been able to do on One Tree Hill- a bit of a commentary on the narrative devices and that kind of thing.
The story began as the battle between two brothers, Lucas and Nathan Scott. They shared a father and were born mere months apart, only their father Dan had chosen to raise Nathan and abandon Lucas. I’m not going to go too far into the plot details because being a teen drama, there’s a fair few storylines spanning the nine seasons. Basically, Lucas and Nathan hate each other but their small town environment makes it rather hard to avoid the issue. In the first 6 seasons, Lucas’ inner dialogue is featured through multiple voiceovers in most episodes and is interwoven with literary quotes to reflect his apparent knowledge and interest in literature (in later seasons, Lucas authors a book based upon his high school experiences and finds career success with his writing).
Another feature of the show for several seasons is Peyton’s artwork; being an extremely emotional character, Peyton often preferred to illustrate her feelings instead of directly expressing them, and the visuals produced quickly became trademarks for fans of the show.
One Tree Hill was created by Mark Schwahn and the longevity of the show surely is a credit to him. He held complete (well, as far as I’m aware) creative control up until the final credits ran and served as the show’s primary writer, which ensured a good consistency in character development and the ability to tie back to past events and seasons seamlessly.
The longevity of OTH surprised many (especially considering the multiple network changes the show underwent throughout its run), and can certainly be accredited to how well Schwahn developed his characters and their relationships and also to an extremely clever plot timeline decision. The first four seasons of One Tree Hill spanned two years of the protagonists’ lives- their final years of high school. Following season 4 it seemed the show was heading into the somewhat-doomed college years (I’m thinking of the OC here as a major example- although killing off your main female protagonist probably didn’t help there either guys!), but instead of dealing with maintaining storylines between main characters existing on opposite ends of the country, the decision was made for the show to undergo a time jump.
Season five began set four years into the future, the potentially problematic college years avoided but not ignored- instead they were shown in a series of dramatic flashbacks over the following seasons. People cared enough about these characters that they missed four years of their lives and were still extremely invested in their lives immediately. The characters they were faced with in season 5 were both lovely and familiar and also in some cases dramatic shadows of their former selves. The dynamic of the show immediately took on a much more mature tone, moving from the dramas of high school into the dramas of careers and parenthood, whilst Lucas, Nathan, Haley, Peyton and Brooke all tried desperately to make sense of their adult lives while also trying to maintain their high school friendships and connections.
It also meant that additional characters were easily introduced. A new cast were integrated and soon just as loved as previous ones (awkward moment when Lucas and Peyton left after season 6) The son Haley gave birth to following her high school graduation was now an adorable four year old whose innocence deeply contrasted with the darkness of several storylines, particularly Nathan’s.
Ain’t he just the cutest thing you ever seen?! Lol.
Now, I don’t really know what else to say… One Tree Hill resonated with a generation of fans and although many still have issues with how some of their favourite characters were farewelled, most were appreciative of the fact that the show ended where it began: with a mother showing love for her son, with those high school hallways, and those smiling faces. Oh, and basketball. Lots and lots of basketball. No psycho nannies/stalkers/murderers though, which was nice.
Also, enjoy these, I rather agree with them (and found them on Tumblr!)
Also, in agreement with one of the top comments, if Lucas and Peyton walked into the scene below, life would have been perfect, but I guess you can’t have everything. At least Chad Michael Murray did return as Lucas for one episode of Season 9 (but it was terrible and his hair was awful but anyway lol), I suppose.
For some people, One Tree Hill was their lives, just like in any fandom.