Spanning across American television alone, there’s at least a hundred TV shows attempting to accurately depict high school and young adulthood. Some popular shows, like “Teen Wolf” or “The Vampire Diaries,” don’t really succeed at that goal, because how often are students turning into werewolves or vampires in your class?
Regardless, the competition for the best depiction of high school and life itself is tough, and there really is no definite winner. While a show like “90210” may not realistically depict my lifestyle, someone’s life in Los Angeles may mirror the show perfectly. But, of all the shows that have tried, “One Tree Hill” may come closest to reflecting the realities of teenage life, and because of this verisimilitude, every millennial should watch it at least once.
The show takes place in the small town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. The story includes high school basketball, relationships, family drama and some of the oddest situations imaginable along the way. From small town values to heavy life lessons, “One Tree Hill” covers it all.
After “One Tree Hill” first aired in 2003 and endured nine seasons over nine years on the CW network, it played for the last time in 2012. The plot began with Chad Michael Murray playing one of the show’s main roles, Lucas Scott. So, while most people believe that Murray’s breakout moment and fame stemmed from the 2004 “Cinderella Story,” where he wooed hearts as Austin Ames, little do fans know that his true heartthrob moment arose from playing Lucas.
The entirety of the show revolved around the social outcast Lucas joining the high school basketball team during his junior year, after being recruited by Coach Whitey (Barry Corbin). From then on, Lucas and his best friend Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz), slowly assimilate into the popular group at school through love, friendships and enemies.
In the show’s beginning, Lucas often clashes with his half-brother of the same age, Nathan Scott (James Lafferty). Although the framework of their relationship sounds strange, their father Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) did indeed have relationships with both mothers, Karen (Moira Kelly) and Deb (Barbara Alyn Woods) during his senior year of high school. As a result of Dan choosing to have a family with Nathan and Deb, a tension between both sons arose and continued on throughout a majority of their adolescent lives.
The characters feature all of the basic high school stereotypes, including: Lucas as the outsider, Nathan as the jock, Brooke Davis (Sophia Bush) as the prom queen who wants more in life, Peyton Sawyer (Hillarie Burton) as the sassy rebel looking for someone to understand her, Haley as the class bookworm, Skills (Antwon Tanner) as the class clown/athlete and Mouth (Lee Norris) as the school geek.
Despite their labels and with the help of both friends and foes along the way, the characters somehow manage to make it through high school, shed their stereotypes and become the people they always were deep down. Considering that life doesn’t end at graduation and your high school years are often some of your worst, the series then picks up four years later as the characters face new hardships in life after college, work and chasing their dreams.
While some of the show’s plot lines are realistic, some of them are way out there. Nevertheless, they’re kind of something you wish would happen in your life too. For example, in Season 3’s episode “I Slept with Someone in Fallout Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me,” Pete Wentz shows up at Peyton’s house with a limo and pseudo-professes feelings for her. So, come on, who’s never had a daydream where your favorite musician acknowledges your existence, let alone has a thing for you?
Another incident that’s on the not so probable side is in Season 2 when Haley became a successful singer in high school. I’m not talking YouTube cover popular; I mean she releases an album and goes on tour. Even though living the dream and touring was great and all, she still manages to come home, save her marriage to Nathan, graduate on time and have a baby, all while in high school!
Regardless of the unrealistic parts, the show offers numerous life lessons to help viewers on an everyday level. Whether those lessons come from Brooke, Lucas and Peyton’s continuous love triangle throughout school, Nathan dealing with his parent’s split and mother’s drug addiction or Lucas’s heart condition keeping him from basketball, it’s real. In life, challenges bring people down and make them feel futile, but the characters depict struggles and how people try to overcome them, through good and bad methods.
The series covers deep topics, like abuse, murder and death, while it also handles the bright sides of life too, including love, passion and success. Life is no one set track, because there’s always ups, downs and bumps. So, while one moment is magical, the other might be a nightmare; “One Tree Hill” reminds you that both end sooner or later.
Now I won’t tell you where each character ended up nine seasons later, because truth be told, I’d spoil all their growth and setbacks along the way. Although, as Brooke says, “One day, you’re seventeen and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.”
Millennials know that scary fact to be all too true. It feels like yesterday you were preparing for the ACT or SAT and choosing which college to attend, and now you’re about to graduate and find a big-time job and your dreams are reality. “One Tree Hill” teaches you about the important moments and tidbits that make up your life. Check out all nine seasons on Netflix and maybe even binge them. Even if you don’t learn any major lessons, at least the show provides an honest, heartfelt laugh.