I re-watched One Tree Hill at 30. Here’s what it taught me about love


I have been toying about making this about Reylo and how I am disappointed at the ending of the Rise of Skywalker for not giving me the happy ending I wanted, even though it was a beautiful ending and Reylo fans got something they’ve wanted for ages, but I have decided to stick to the nostalgia-fest that started with the Growth post and go back to a teenage classic, One Tree Hill.

One Tree Hill is the most Christian of secular TV, as it accidentally taught a whole generation about redemption, selfless love, dealing with an unjust world and sticking around when times are hard. It’s 9 seasons of over 20 episodes each, so if you’ve never watched it prepare for a long period of catching up, and also to have you heart broken in season 3.Despite crushing big time on the male character alluded to in the previous sentence, my absolute favourite character in the season has always been Nathan Scott. I’m the kind of kid who likes Edmund in the Chronicles of Narnia so what did you expect? Anyway, I just can’t warm up to characters who seem perfect and such good people who never do wrong (the story arc of his half-brother Lucas redeems him in my eyes, as he is exactly the kind of character that I mean at first). The series starts with Nathan as a bad boy, privileged and spoilt, with a lot of pressure put on by his failed-college-athlete father and an absent mother, in a loveless relationship with drama queen Peyton Sawyer (basically, teenage me). His turning point, far from being a mere fact of life, like, you know, growing up, is the fact he falls in love with a girl he first got close to in order to get back at Lucas: Lucas’ best friend Haley James.

Now, Haley is a bit like the characters I don’t tend to like, which makes her friendship with Lucas not so surprising, but she has the benefit of being a little less patronising. She is a genuinely good girl who gives the benefit of doubt to Nathan while also putting her foot down when needed. The kind of firmness and discipline the boy who gets all he asks for really needed. It doesn’t come across as a holier than thou attitude, she is the angel she appears and sings like one while at that. The authenticity makes me like her enough despite my preference for redemption stories (the same applies to Jake, who is the character alluded to if you didn’t guess).

One of the beautiful things about Naley, as they are affectionately called by fans, is that they got married at 16 and it wasn’t a mistake. They hit the predictable rough patch that comes with the circumstances of Haley’s newly found music career, but they sort it out in the year of waiting for a divorce and grow the stronger for it. They hit another rough patch with losing their identity in becoming parents, and Nathan’s long depression following his accident that wrecked his career until he got back on his feet and made it to the NBA (that boy is as stubborn as me), and then, later on, the depression that affects Haley when her mother passes. They weren’t delusional romantic teenagers, or at least they weren’t just that: they knew they had hit the jackpot and they made the conscious effort over the years to grow together and prove the naysayers wrong.

They make each other a better person because they are together. It’s the most obvious with Nathan, who matured beautifully, but Mrs James-Scott isn’t exactly new to immaturity either (hello, Chris Keller), and the woman she grows to be in the later series is not someone she could have become on her own (for one, she has been the mother hen of the whole squad since Karen went, and that’s thanks to being an actual mother too). Her patience and goodness are put under stress by Nathan at significant junctions in their love story, and so I can’t see how she would be the woman she is if she had been with someone else. No other character, not even Brooke and Peyton, are that affected by the relationships they have (although Brooke grew more genuinely confident in herself thanks to Lucas and Chase, while she spent most of the first few seasons hiding her insecurities behind a façade of casual sex and partying).

Everyone is the better for having Nathan and Haley around, and I like the final few seasons after Lucas and Peyton moved away and the dynamics they brought to the forefront with all of them into adulthood. I don’t miss the Lucas and Peyton drama, although the new characters bring enough drama of their own (it wouldn’t be OTH without all the draaaaamaaaa). Now I’m 31 and I look back on this series that kept me company throughout my teenage years, I can see how it shaped the way I see love and marriage as a journey, not a destination.

Today’s blog post has been part of the Love Blog Challenge 2020 on the subject “Fictional Love”. Find the rest of the series here

Meet my co-hosts:

Brita of BelleBrita
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. On her blog and social media, you’ll discover more than authentic storytelling–she’s brutally honest about pursuing a fulfilling and joyful life even with Crohn’s Disease and depression.

Mardra of Mardra Sikora
Mardra Sikora believes in the power of words. She uses both fiction and non-fiction to advocate for and with her adult son, Marcus. She is co-Author of The Parent’s Guide to Down Syndrome: Advice, Information, Inspiration, and Support for Raising Your Child from Diagnosis through Adulthood. Her work is also included in a variety of anthologies, national websites, and at Mardrasikora.com


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  1. Love the analysis matching original emotion with reflection, I find this when I reread books, too and it often surprises me – what I remember as opposed to what was really there – on the page (screen). It’s funny how much we absorbed from movies/TV/books in our youth that we didn”t even realize was molding us.

    1. I love re-watching and re-reading things because you always discover something new. It was the subject of my French paper in my high school final exams, actually!

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