One Tree Hill may have a great deal to teach us all about seeking lives of meaning and love and seeing ourselves and all those around us with a purpose and value that runs deeper than who we are on the surface and who we have been in the past.

(2004) Series Review

This page was created on November 26, 2004
This page was last updated on June 5, 2005


Review by Elisabeth Leitch
About this Series
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CREDITS

Cast (in credits order)
Chad Michael Murray .... Lucas Scott
James Lafferty .... Nathan Scott
Hilarie Burton .... Peyton Sawyer
Bethany Joy Lenz .... Haley James Scott
Paul Johansson .... Dan Scott
Sophia Bush .... Brooke Davis
Barry Corbin .... Coach Whitey Durham
Craig Sheffer .... Keith Scott
Moira Kelly .... Karen Roe

Production Companies

Warner Bros. Television
Tollin/Robbins Productions

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SYNOPSIS
Arrogant and assured, Nathan is the star of the high school basketball team and hails from a wealthy family. Quiet and driven, Lucas is the only child of a single working mom. He is also a legendary playground basketball player. After growing up on opposite sides of the tracks in the same North Carolina town of Tree Hill, the half-brothers suddenly find their lives colliding when a twist of fate puts Lucas on Nathan's high school basketball team, and the two boys compete--not only for control of the court, but also for the heart of Nathan's beautiful girlfriend, Peyton
Meet ELISABETH LEITCH
Elisabeth Leitch is a graduate of the University of California San Diego with a BA in Literature-Writing. A person who has always loved movies, she never ceases to be amazed with the way movies impact viewers by both reflecting and asking questions about the culture and world in which we live. Currently, Elisabeth spends her days working in a local bookstore and seeking what God has in store for her future. She has also worked as a reporter/writer for the Los Alamos Monitor and the New Mexico Business Journal.

What do you get when you combine illegitimate children, estranged brothers, feuding families, failing marriages, broken relationships, and irreversible grudges -and put them on television- If you throw in some marginal acting, repetitive storytelling, and a midday time slot, then you've got one of today's many soap operas. But allow the characters to desire better than division and brokenness, boost up the acting abilities, and create a storyline that actually takes its actors somewhere other than where they were last season, and now you've got the WB's One Tree Hill.

From its cast of characters -related through broken relationships and illegitimate children- to a nearly fatal car accident, pregnancy scare, heart attack, and teenage wedding all within its first season, One Tree Hill began and took off with enough complicated back-story and unfortunate and regrettable first season events to easily send it spiraling into the disfunctionality of the soap opera world.

When One Tree Hill first aired just over a year ago, the cast of characters and the lives they lead were, to put it lightly, messy. In the middle of the mess stood two brothers, Nathan and Lucas Scott-same father, different mothers, and years of hatred in between. Around them stood their father, Dan Scott; Dan's wife and Nathan's mother, Deb Scott; Dan's high school girlfriend and Lucas' mother, Karen Roe; Dan's brother and the man who essentially raised Lucas as his own son, Keith Scott; a select group of girlfriends and best friends; and even more complications and relationship problems. From the beginning, relationships were characterized by division and hatred. Even the ones that seemed to be going well turned sour as cheating tore friends apart and unequal feelings for each other turned trusting friends into awkward acquaintances.

As One Tree Hill's first season began to roll towards its end and prepare for its next season, however, its characters seemed to say-we've had enough. They seemed to look at the soap opera life in the eye, tell it they wanted something different, and begin to consciously try to live a life that was centered not on grudges and hatred, but instead on forgiveness and reconciliation.

Although the center of conflict rested within the Scott family, the first person to take steps towards reconciliation was Haley James, Lucas' best friend from childhood. She had grown up on the Lucas-Deb-Keith side of the Scott family division. Her best friend Lucas wanted nothing to do with Nathan and didn't want her to have anything to do with him. Yet when a crush began to turn into a relationship with Nathan, she gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided to get to know him for himself, not just for his past or his family.

In the episodes that followed, Lucas and Nathan followed Haley's lead. While they had each grown up resenting each other-Nathan for having the father and privileged life that could have been Lucas' and Lucas for having the hidden affection that his own father rarely showed Nathan
-Nathan and Lucas also decided to give each other a chance and eventually became good friends.

Although progress had been made at the end of season one, the characters in One Tree Hill still faced both family divisions and the divisive aftereffects of various actions between them. Opening season two with wedding vows exchanged between Haley and Nathan, however, this season's first episode began not only with a decision to pursue union instead of division, but also a decision to believe in a love deeper than the superficial high school love all around them and to trust in a love stronger than the one that had fallen apart for so many of the adults in their lives.

From the wedding through the first five episodes of this season, One Tree Hill has continued on its course away from soap opera dysfunction and division towards one seeking deeper meaning and actual love.

Frustrated with his actions that had ruined his friendship with friends Peyton and Brooke, Lucas had ended the previous season by leaving in hopes of escaping his past and starting a new life. As this season began, however, Lucas returned with a mission not to abandon his past, but to fix the relationships he had broken and give the relationships that had been broken for so long a chance.

Remarkably, even Dan, the character everyone loves to hate and the character that hates everyone, has shown desire to mend his relationships after returning home from his heart attack. Attempting to build a relationship with Lucas and grieving his broken relationship with Nathan, Dan asks his wife: "What if I spent my life chasing the wrong things? Success, money, respect. What if it turns out none of it matters because I lost my family along the way? Can I get it back? Is it too late?"

While the characters of One Tree Hill rarely visit church or participate in any sort of religion, this season did find Haley and Peyton in a church. Although they were there on a dare, Peyton finds herself actually confessing her heart. With tears in her eyes, she confesses that she has not been to a church since her mom died and is not sure she would want her mom to see the person she is. She cries and asks herself why she has even done some of the things she regrets. She speaks words of longing for a life that isn't just good but would be a life that matters. And in the end, she whispers a promise to the priest, to herself, to her mom, to God that she is going to change.

In many ways, One Tree Hill is just another teen drama filled with teenage issues and teenage screw ups. At the same time, however, One Tree Hill is a show and a cast of characters that seek something deeper. Instead of dwelling on mistakes they have made; confining themselves to the lives they have been dealt, roles they have been placed in, and circumstances they feel confined by -instead of simply accepting and perpetuating a life filled with things that always fall short- the characters of One Tree Hill seem to realize that their lives can be something more and they truly pursue that.

While the town of One Tree Hill may simply be a small town like any other, it seems that its name and the transformations going on in its residents cannot help but connect it to a cross-shaped tree on another hill, many years ago. As each character cries out for a new life of deeper purpose and meaning, each seems to recognize that that meaning is a meaning that lies in love and love alone. In the same way that Haley and Nathan's profession of love -a love that promises to take them and hold them, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse, for eternity, forever -began the season, another love- that has already existed for eternity -seems to be tugging at the heartstrings of every character, ready and eager to transport the characters out of soap opera dysfunction and into the lives of meaning they desire.

As the season continues, I have no doubt that some characters will disappoint us and some relationships will not work out quite as nicely as we might have wished. Some nights it may very well seem like just another soap opera, a blunt reminder of the ways life makes us cringe and the things that make life messy. With so many characters questioning the lesser lives they have been leading and incomplete relationships they have been living in, however, I also think the characters of One Tree Hill may have a great deal to teach us all about seeking lives of meaning and love and seeing ourselves and all those around us with a purpose and value that runs deeper than who we are on the surface and who we have been in the past.

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