Never Judge a Show by its Love Triangle

Never Judge a Show by its Love Triangle

Hello and welcome back to another edition of TBT! Today’s pick is a little bit unorthodox for me! It’s a classic teen show from my high school days that I’ve never actually watched until this month, and I still have 3 seasons to go!

I’ll give you some backstory on myself:

I grew up next to a farm in a tiny Tennessee town where cable wasn’t available on my street and you had to be rich to have satellite, so I never had cable or internet until age 17. Instead of TV shows, I binged on movies and Disney VHSs unless I was at a friend’s house that had cable.

I remember teens my age and magazines talking about One Tree Hill. The drama! The love triangles! The music! Chad Michael Murray! He was the soulful-eyed leading guy we all wanted writing poetry about us. However, I’ve always (especially younger me) gone against the grain. I hated the concept of dating, hated teen soap operas, hated pink, I was a regular rebel — so instead, I would watch my classic Audrey Hepburn and Star Wars movies. Well, with nine seasons this show just never went away! In my early 20s, my best friends (a sister and brother) watched it religiously because they loved sports and she loved drama, but I still refused to watch it. That was seven years ago — I finally conceded this month because my roommate and another bestie of mine both verbally cornered me and were relentlessly chanting: watch One Tree Hill!

Well, I needed a new show to watch and, to be honest, I already gave up my no teen soaps policy when I watched Dawson’s Creek and The OC last year. I figured I’d try it out and then complain about how awful it was….Well I played myself, guys. I like it, I like it enough to watch five seasons in 19 days. Now, it’s definitely not an Emmy winning show, but it’s got some compelling character arcs and a quite talented cast! Here’s a brief, mostly spoiler-free look at the pilot:

Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty)

Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan (James Lafferty)

We open to two basketball games being played: one in a school gym with a crowd, one at an old river court at a public park, just a night game between friends. Among this group is our lead character, Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray), a high school junior that is a gifted basketball player. He’s playing street ball with other outsider kids like him as his friend Marvin “Mouth” McFadden (Lee Norris) pretends to be a sports announcer.

The actual high school game going on in the gym is being lead by the home team’s (the Ravens) most gifted player, Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), as his controlling father Dan Scott (Paul Johnson) tries to coach him from the sidelines — even though the actual coach, Whitey Durham (Barry Corbin), shoots Mr. Scott a glare. If you’re wondering why there are three principal characters with the last name Scott it is indeed because they are related, Nathan and Lucas are both Dan’s sons! Dan only claims Nathan; he married Nate’s mom in college, and left Lucas’s mom Karen (Moira Kelly) behind, pregnant with Lucas, right after high school graduation. So Lucas and Nathan are three months apart in age; Dan is a real winner if you can’t tell — he was the star player in high school and feels he missed his shot at stardom so he constantly pressures and verbally abuses Nathan to make him the “best”, making the poor boy hate the game he loves and take out the anger he has for his father on others.

Lucas, however, has been raised by his loving mother and his Uncle Keith (Craig Sheffer), Dan’s older brother that stepped in to help Karen when Dan left her and Lucas behind. Lucas also works part-time for Keith at his car garage. Lucas does resent Dan for abandoning him and his mom, and resents Nathan for being the well-off popular jock with the beautiful cheerleader girlfriend, Peyton Sawyer (Hilarie Burton).

As Lucas walks home from the river court, he is almost hit by Peyton as she gets distracted while driving. They exchange looks and continue on their way. Keith asks coach Durham to give Lucas a chance to play on the team, he agrees and Nathan is immediately threatened by Lucas as a player and by his attention to Peyton. Thus begins a nine season long saga of family drama, friend drama, health drama….literally any and all drama you can think of!

Lucas and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) in the pilot

Lucas and Peyton (Hilarie Burton) in the pilot

Now let’s explore the best part of this, at times, ridiculously over the top show: the character development

Lucas Scott: he goes from outsider kid to popular jock. He’s a good soul, but he does some stupid and selfish things. He longs for acceptance from his father even though he’s done nothing but reject him. You watch him grow up and accept himself.

Nathan Scott: Nathan starts out as a total d-bag to his girlfriend, Lucas, and just about everyone. But it’s due to the verbal and physical abuse he’s received from his dad, being forced to play basketball since he was three, his often absent mother, and the pressure to perform better than his dad and Lucas. Nathan actually has one of the best and most rewarding character arcs of the series, as he goes from a selfish, insecure bully to one of the kindest and most mature characters.

Peyton Sawyer: Peyton is the “cheerleader girlfriend” that is anything but cheery. She is a very emotionally dark girl with lots of personal demons. She has a lot of bad things happen to her throughout the seasons, but she becomes a stronger, more confident, person. But she is a mess for a long time. She is actually the character I had the hardest time liking.

Haley James: Haley is Lucas’s childhood best friend and works for Karen’s cafe. She is also a tutor at school and musically gifted. She’s the kind, nurturing friend that always has wise words. She also makes some very questionable life choices at times, but she grows up to be an amazing woman that takes on a lot for the people she loves.

Brooke Davis: Brooke is the captain of the cheerleading squad and starts out a rich brat that’s always looking for a hookup or new shoes. She also has some of the best development in the series, learning to be vulnerable and to take care of her friends.

The show adds lots of faces to the show as the seasons go on as well, some are great and some terrible.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this show. It’s both very sweet and human, and also completely over the top. One episode these kids are trying to win a basketball game or compete in cheer, the next they are hanging out with rockstars or being stalked by an internet stalker or getting married at 17, I mean it’s a wild ride! But if you can look past the impossible situations this show creates, at its core it’s a show about fathers and sons and brothers and parents being children, and children having to be parents.

It actually does a great job of highlighting the emotional and mental issues teens can face, albeit in a very overdramatic way. It has at least four love triangles so far, something I hate. But it does show the consequences of the character’s actions when they make selfish decisions, romantically or otherwise.

All in all this show has some great acting and characters that will make some of the more absurd plots easier to process. So if you are looking for a replacement to Jane the Virgin or Gossip Girl, this may be the show for you. It really gets you in the feels and makes you want to know what happens next. It will also make you think, which is refreshing for an early 2000s teen drama!

Lucas and Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz)

Lucas and Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz)

Last thoughts and tidbits:

  • Most of the “parents” in this show were famous in 80s and 90s movies and TV

  • Lucas is technically the lead, but Nathan is my fave

  • I also am not a fan of the lead love triangle, but I would die for Naley

  • “Naley” is the “ship” name of my fave couple lol

  • Keith Scott deserves better

  • Dan Scott is Satan in a Suit™️

  • Beware: Time jumps ahead!

  • The soundtrack every season is fabulous

  • This show makes me nostalgic for 2004

  • This show makes me feel old

  • These kids are more successful by 22 than I am now at 30 lol

  • Never hire a hot nanny

  • Never leave your webcam on 24/7

  • The 2003 fake ID market had strong game apparently

  • Jake Jaglieski is the most underrated, under-utilized character and I will always be bitter

You can watch the entire series on Hulu Plus in the U.S.

And that wraps this week’s TBT on Truth Bee Told Media! I’m gonna go dig out my CD of Dashboard Confessional’s “Dusk and Summer” and listen to it while I surf my old MySpace page, wait it doesn’t exist anymore….So I’m gonna check out my Hotmail account instead!

TBT is a weekly feature on Truth Bee Told that looks back on some of our favourite TV shows that are no longer on air.

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