Comfort Viewing: 3 reasons Pranathi Ganti loves ‘One Tree Hill’

Comfort Viewing: 3 reasons Pranathi Ganti loves ‘One Tree Hill’
When ‘One Tree Hill’ premiered on the WB in 2003, Pranathi Ganti wasn’t alive. She was six when the show went off the air in 2012.
But this year, she discovered all nine seasons of the show and it quickly became a comfort watch as the show’s legacy outlasted the WB network itself.
‘One Tree Hill’ is available on Hulu and Max.
Image: Warner Bros.

I was heartbroken when Tristan Dugray, Chilton Prep’s quintessential swoon-worthy bad boy, got the boot from “Gilmore Girls”; crushed when the character was sent to military school during the show’s second season.

But somebody at the WB, the network behind the hit show, must have seen what I saw: that actor Chad Michael Murray was bound for more. Murray had the makings of a star, a talent wasted as a mere recurring role as Rory Gilmore’s unrequited love interest.

So, what’s a heartbroken fan to do? Simple. Follow the trail of Chad Michael Murray to his next major TV role: “One Tree Hill.”

While admittedly pining after Murray is what drew me to “One Tree Hill,” I stayed for other reasons.

Set in the sleepy town of Tree Hill, North Carolina, the show follows half-brothers Lucas and Nathan Scott, played by Murray and James Lafferty, respectively.

Estranged at birth and raised hating the very idea of each other, the Scotts navigate the turbulent waters of high school while juggling their growing aspirations as basketball players–both on and off the court.

Here are three reasons why this TV show scores with me.
Warning: spoilers ahead!

How the show handles difficult topics with empathy

With the characters’ struggles–from absent parents to failed relationships–come sensitive conversations about rather tricky and touchy topics.

While at times “One Tree Hill” can be borderline melodramatic–it is entirely devoid of exaggerated emotions or sensationalized plotlines–it is often rooted in reality.

As a teen drama, the show presents real issues that are all too relatable to viewers, but with empathy and grace rarely seen on teen television shows.

One recurring theme is the various characters’ struggles with identity, self-worth and belonging–an all too common topic among teens today.

There’s Lucas learning to accept himself, reconciling his love of basketball and his last name; Brooke’s struggles with self-worth and validation, discovering her sense of self isn’t defined by her popularity or her boyfriend (Sophia Bush); Nathan grapples with the pressure of living up to his father’s expectations; Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton) finding her voice as a musician.

Each storyline is nuanced and approached with depth, complexity and sensitivity.

The show, too, touches on subjects that are less commonplace but increasingly prevalent.

The shooting death of Quentin Fields (Robert Lee Jones III), a star on the Ravens’ basketball team, opened doors for discussion about aggravated assault and gun violence–both inside and outside the show.

Growing up in a space where mass shootings are sadly common, watching TV shows that reflect that reality is comforting— I know that I’m not entirely alone in my desire to understand some aspects of them.

“One Tree Hill” presents a version of life that isn’t glossed over or glamorized. Each facet of a character touches on the darker side of life with relative ease by making them inherently human–not perfect.

The characters are flawed.

Whether presenting issues like substance or physical abuse, “One Tree Hill” offers a respectful treatment, providing exposure to social matters often missing in mainstream media.

Depending on the subject, “One Tree Hill’s” dialogue and discussion of it may have been my only access to an unrestricted understanding of the social struggle.

Its resilient female leads 

While the show centers around the Scott brothers, it is arguably “One Tree Hill’s” female characters–Peyton, Haley James (Bethany Joy Lenz) and Brooke–who steal the show.

The young women’s tenacious pursuit of their dreams is a testament to the strength of these women, especially in the face of adversity.

First introduced as a vain cheerleader, Brooke Davis overcomes the toxicity of her mom and ultimately utilizes her superficial exterior, allowing Davis to create a fashion empire single-handedly.

Was Brooke’s assent to fame grounded in reality? No. Is that what makes the show that much more enjoyable? Yes. Knowing that high schoolers like me can face the lowest of odds and still come out on top is enjoyable, to say the least.

Peyton Sawyer battles everything from a crazed stalker to the death of two maternal figures and still starts a record label of her own. By continuing to find happiness amidst her hardships through humor and art, Peyton helps to recognize the importance of self-expression when looking to the future.

Haley James, breaking the stigma behind teenage pregnancy, finds the delicate balance between dedicated teacher and sensational rockstar, never failing to find joy.

Produced in a day and age where teenage girls were often portrayed as singularly looking for love, “One Tree Hill” expertly weaves in female success stories. Even if they are not all that realistic, the three are icons in true Tree Hill fashion.

The show, admittedly, is not always the most realistic portrayal of high school, complete with the classic glitz and glamor of TV life. But then again, no work of teen fiction is.

Though, the underlying knowledge that everything will turn out okay no matter what hardships the characters face is a comforting thought.

The strong supporting characters 

The TV show boasts an ensemble that is just as incredible as the leads. Starting with the younger brother type, Marvin “Mouth” McFadden (Lee Norris) and his witty one-liners, the show grew its roster to accommodate Antwon “Skills” Taylor (Antwon Tanner) and Jamie Scott (Jackson Brundage).

Skills, loyal to a fault, and Jamie, a charmer at heart, are the epitome of being a Tree Hill Raven.

Together, the three provide the perfect combination of hilarious, sarcastic and adorable, whether it be Mouth and Skills’ weekly water-gun fights in their apartment or Jamie’s pursuit of a career in first-grade stand-up comedy.

Often used as comedic relief, the three grew into regulars on the show with their incredible on-screen presence. Their aspirations and struggles are not just entertaining additions to the show but rather pivotal reasons why “One Tree Hill” is so good.

From Mouth’s journey to becoming a sportscaster to Skills’ eventual return to Tree Hill High as a basketball coach, the leads are definitely not the only people carrying the show.

Even perceived antagonists such as Dan Scott (Paul Johansson) and Rachel Gatina (Danneel Ackles) are truly complex characters. The layers behind their evilness, from Dan’s underlying jealousy of his brother to Rachel’s inability to form meaningful relationships, all leave me on the edge of my seat every time I turn on the show.

With no clear “hero” as part of its storyline, “One Tree Hill” allows me to pick and choose who I want to support, making it all the more alluring.

While the Ravens’ games garner crowds, the “One Tree Hill” roster collects hearts.

Donate to Inkspot
Our Goal

IF YOU SHARE THE INKSPOT'S PASSION for empowering Normal Community's aspiring journalists and equipping them with viable and valuable digital media skills, please consider contributing to our cause.
Your support plays a vital role in enabling the Inkspot to invest in top-tier equipment, maintain memberships in distinguished professional organizations such as the Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association, send our students to compete at state and national contests, and attend the National High School Journalism Convention.
Your generosity is the key to providing these students with a truly enriching educational experience. THANK YOU.

Donate to Inkspot
Our Goal