This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
American teen dramas are a psychologically confusing genre of television. It is easy to sort them en masse into the category of "bad." But it is bad to merely think bad, because there is also "good." Actual good, too, like hey shit, I’m enjoying this. I wish I hadn’t yelled at my sister for putting this on good. The OC, for example, was great because it introduced an entire generation to Death Cab for Cutie and taught me and many others how to love. Gilmore Girls, too—if you haven’t seen Gilmore Girls, it is exactly like Love Island, except they’re not on an island or topless or in the mindless pursuit of Instagram sponsorships. No, it’s much sexier: they’re in a quaint town, have their nice little shirts on, and are in the mindful pursuit of exclusively fulfilling relationships.
You would be justified to think bad though, because there sure is a lot of it. The show 90210 was abysmal; Gossip Girl was an outrage; Dawson's Creek was so melodramatic that it boggles the mind to think it was created by 30 to 50 adults in full-time jobs over a period of seven years. These shows give American teen dramas a bad name on account of their innate implausibility and overdone narratives. The OC and Gilmore Girls were good because they were self-aware, sardonic and, most importantly, believable. Something their counterparts couldn’t dream of.
For its part, One Tree Hill has a 7.7 IMDb rating, spanned nine seasons, and was described as a "very likable drama about basketball and patrimony," by The New York Times in 2003. The largest circulated newspaper in New Jersey claimed that, "Every choice it makes from pacing to photography to music seems just about right, and the casting is inspired." It is widely considered to be one of the saviors of the genre.
The thing is, though, One Tree Hill is ridiculous—absolutely obscene. If The OC is the first sip of the delicious cold beer that is teen dramas, and Dawson’s Creek is the last tepid, 50 percent backwash, One Tree Hill is your 12 beer when you’re left in a sort of stupor and nothing makes sense anymore, but you’re still having fun. Don’t remember why? Here’s a list—you love those, don't you?—of just some of those damn ridiculous obscenities because there are a lot.
Dan Scott Is Just Way Too Evil
Dan Scott is a type of evil that is so calculated, so sordid, so hilarious that it simply couldn’t be possible in any dimension of reality. Every time he enters a space, whether it be a rowdy basketball locker room to coach, his empty living room to brood or through his estranged brother’s window in the dead of night during a torrential storm with a torch, he acts constantly like a shark who has tasted blood. This is a man who thinks everyone is plotting his downfall—and plots the downfall of an inconceivable number of characters on the show.
He bullies his son—which, although a popular thing to do, is probably the most pathetic choice of victim. He is always that evil sort of horny—the one that has you saying you want to fuck your son’s girlfriend or accosting random customer service staff—that can only land you getting punched or in prison. Raging, filthy, possessed horny.
Sure, he finds his wife cheating on him with his brother, Keith—which, other than basketball games and humping teenagers, is perhaps the most realistic thing to happen on this show—but in retaliation, he hires probably-a-prostitute-I’m-not-sure to instigate a faux relationship with Keith, build it to the point of marriage, and then jilt him at the altar to humiliate him and crush him forever.
There’s one isolated moment that encapsulates just how ridiculous Dan Scott’s evil is in season two. He’s in a confession booth and these are the actual real words the writers decided to make him say. Now, remember, they could’ve written anything:
"I gotta tell you, padre, this isn’t exactly my home court, ya know. [winks evilly] I never had much use for religion. I guess what you call kindness, I call weakness. But, no man is bulletproof, I know that; after all, they crucified your boy, didn’t they?"
Tim. Just Tim. All of him. His hair. His clothes. His words. Tim.
Tim is the work you’ll get around to later; the one chilled pint you’re going to have; the large Dominos pizza that will totally feed you twice and is therefore worth it; you going to the gym in the morning instead; the plausibility of Brexit happening anytime soon: entirely, wholeheartedly, untrue. There is no way a human could be that ridiculous, even in a fictional teen drama. Like…
Absolutely not, no.
Peyton Keeps Getting Offered Free Cocaine
Peyton is an artist. She has curly blonde hair, listens to rock music, drives a sweet ride, and is unnecessarily rude. In the pilot, we see her rocking a Ramones tee, which I’m afraid back in 2003 was pretty cool. She is a narcissistic grieving emo who sits in front of a live camera (why would you do this? Even in LiveJournal days?). Her character was an "angsty, existential mess," and thus was entirely predictable. She gives so few fucks that she’s even a cheerleader. Some of the things that happened to her, however—well, that’s a different story.
I don’t know if you know this, but here we go: Cocaine is expensive. So expensive that if you want to do it in meaningful quantities, you have to visualize your weekly expenses for the rest of the month and then work out whether you can afford it. It is rarely free, and if it is, it’s most likely a nanoscopic portion. Peyton "Sad Girl" Sawyer, however, gets offered it for free, repeatedly! She even flushes it down the toilet! Peyton! Waste not, want not, hun!
Haley Decides to Become a Rockstar; Is One Within a Week, and Starts Taking a Limousine Everywhere
Here are some things I believed as a 12-year-old:
– You could fly to Vice City on GTA San Andreas
– Fizzy drinks hydrate you
– I could be the first British person to average 24 ppg in the NBA
– I could also play in a professional soccer league
– If those two failed, I could easily take the rockstar route and ride in limousines
– One Tree Hill was an accurate reflection of real life
It would actually make a lot more sense if One Tree Hill was written by teenagers. But, once again, it wasn’t. It was adults. Big old adults who had alarms set, 401Ks organized, and a stern talking to from their doctors to avoid eating eggs. Adults who thought Michelle Branch wanting Haley as her nationwide arena tour opener, despite only ever hearing a rough demo, plausible. And for her to ride in a limousine everywhere thereafter, as that’s what rockstars do, obviously.
Brooke’s Dad Loses His Job and They Sell Everything They Own, Including Brooke’s Mattress. He Gets a New Job the Next Week
I’ve never lost a job before, so I can’t speak from a place of authority. However, I am going to go out on a limb and say, in case this happens to you and you’ve always used One Tree Hill as a life how-to: If you lose your job, don’t immediately sell everything you own. Especially your teenage daughter’s mattress.
Nathan’s Idea of Recovery
Pain, a somewhat popular concept, is one of the main driving forces of One Tree Hill. Whether it was Hayley’s pining to be a rockstar or Peyton’s want for a steady family or Lucas’s troubles with his father. These characters with their sense of normality respond to their pain promptly and efficiently. Nathan, however, hates pain.
When Hayley leaves him, he tries to kill himself while crashing on a race track by going over 100mph. After that very crash, Nathan has his stomach stitched up, but decides these life-saving stitches simply can’t stop him from playing basketball. So he continues to train, the stitches come undone, blood gushes from his stomach, and he just… doesn’t stop playing. He! Doesn’t Stop! Nathan, please, there’s blood everywhere! Think of the janitors, Nathan! They’re paid minimum wage, Nathan! Nathan!
Chris Keller is an absurd man in an absurd world. Although, this perhaps makes him the most at home in the One Tree Hill universe; he poetically suits its unscientific nature. His first album, for example, is called Keller Instinct. Yes, like killer instinct, but Keller instead, as that’s his last name. He also claims to be a punk rocker when he quite evidently actually plays country pop. And he talks in the third person.
Perhaps the most Chris Killer™ moment is when he’s due to headline 'Tric, Tree Hill’s super cool music venue. Seconds prior to starting his set, he notices two people talking, as people do at social events. This is simply too much for Chris. He’s here to rock their world, not serenade their shit shooting. So he storms off stage. I mean, it is your first show, Chris. You haven’t released any music, have you? They could just be saying something like, "Oh, I haven’t heard of this first act, have you?" "No, I haven’t, either. Let us now listen intensely for the entirety of his set."
One Tree Hill, the Concept Of
If you don’t remember it being this ridiculous and think this is unfair, please—you’re wrong. There’s so much wrong with every episode. Peyton’s dad gets lost at sea! In the 2000s! Lucas falls into a coma for basically no reason other than to ramp up narrative tension! Sheryl Crow appears as Sheryl fucking Crow to sing at a shitty local cafe! Peyton dates Pete Wentz, who appears as Pete fucking Wentz and then dumps him!!!!! For a normal measly little man!
No, no, no, no. It is the most illogical show I’ve ever seen and I miss it so damn much. Bring it back and make it even more stupid!! Make Brooke an airline pilot and Lucas (his first real mention because "simply brooding" is actually fairly plausible) a stripper! Let’s have Nathan and Skills switch bodies a la Freaky Friday! Why not throw some angsty aliens into the mix, they’ll give Peyton a run for her money, won’t they! Just give me the drama!! I need it!
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