This review contains spoilers in later paragraphs. A spoiler alert has been placed where the spoilers begin.
It’s rare for a TV show to last more than a couple of years these days, but, against all odds, One Tree Hill has lasted for nine seasons and one hundred and eighty eight episodes. It’s survived major cast changes – something many shows don’t even dare to risk – network changes, marriage break-ups, time jumps and more. Over the course of nine years, the show spanned over fifteen, being one of the first shows to jump forwards in time, and doing so several times.
Whilst there are many other shows aimed at a similar demographic, few handle things in the same way. The characters are original, and that originality makes them feel real – you don’t expect a cheerleader to be a fan of The Who or The Cure, or to become a successful businesswoman. You don’t expect the class nerd to become a rock star, or a basketball player to write a novel (or even know what one is). But they did. Each character had their own special talent, just like each of us in real life. They each had a past – one with both the good, and the bad – and that reflected in who they were, and in who they became.
Life was never easy for the residents of One Tree Hill. They went through far more than your average person, from fake siblings, to bankruptcy, to divorce, to marriage, to murder, and cheating. It’s impossible to list everything that happened to just one character in a single article, let alone all of them in just this. Having so much happening to the characters mimics reality, however – everything always changes or goes wrong at once.
The relationships in the show weren’t perfect – most were far from it – but the characters cared about each other, and they would try as hard as they could to make things work. In real life, most couples would fall apart after facing just one of the hurdles some of the couples went through – such as a child being kidnapped – but Nathan and Haley stayed together, knowing that their strength lied with each other. Whilst Nathan and Haley were a fictional couple and getting married at such a young age isn’t usually a good idea, their relationship is the perfect template for true love: you bring out the best in each other and you’ll do anything for each other, but you don’t need to because you compromise instead.
At times, the show was melodramatic and maudlin, but it worked. It constantly dared to do things many shows wouldn’t even consider risking, but that’s part of what made it real – it took risks. Most of us will never pull a gun out on someone, or have one pointed at us, but we could understand the characters’ motives, and even feel sorry for them. We’ve all felt lonely, jealous and abandoned at some point in our lives, but we all react in different ways, and seeing those feelings in the characters’ eyes helped us to understand how they ended up in the situation that they were in.
The characters weren’t real, but they felt it, and One Tree Hill has had a very real impact on popular culture. It may not have received great reviews, but the fans’ love kept it going. The final season paid homage to many things from the past nine years, from on-set greetings (which translated to someone irritating on-screen), to Jimmy Edwards, to the bracelet that Nathan gave Haley on their first
date tutoring session. It tied things up far better than most other shows, but there was always going to be certain things that left people disappointed, particularly the lack of Peyton (Hilarie Burton), due to personal reasons.
Throughout the course of the show, Dan Scott has been the show’s main villain, and it’s always been hard for the audience to know which side he’s on. In the final season, we got to see the true motivation for what he did, for what we all do: love. He didn’t know how to handle his love for Nathan, Deb, Karen, or anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t care. It was him that saved Nathan from his kidnappers, and, as Dan died, his elder brother, whom he’d killed several years earlier, returned. It was great to see such a popular character return, and also for him to not be mad at Dan, saying that Dan was his “plus one” in heaven.
Mouth’s storyline about his weight gain was handled sensitively by Lee Norris (the actor that played him), but it seemed a little inconceivable that he should drop the weight so quickly after Skills returned. Skills was, however, the perfect replacement for Mouth on his and Millie’s morning show. Skills was a great character – albeit somewhat stereotypical – in the earlier seasons, so having him back and helping Mouth to lose weight was definitely beneficial. However, it would have been better if Bevan had been back for more than just the final episode, or at least had a scene with Skills as well as being the person to marry Clay and Quinn.
Clay’s struggles this season were heartbreaking, but as soon as they revealed that Clay had a son, it was obvious that it was Logan. It didn’t matter that it was obvious, though: Logan was a great kid, and you could see the likeness between his parents. Given Clay’s comic book obsession, it wouldn’t be surprising if Logan was named after Wolverine, but that’s ok. It’s a cool name, and a cool character.
Logan was reluctant to accept Clay at first – which is understandable – but because of every child’s desire to know their parents, he eventually accepted Clay and even went on to call Quinn “Mom”. That moment was one of the cutest things ever, and showed how deep his relationship was with her.
One Tree Hill had a magic that few shows possess. You can tell that every person that worked on it cared about it deeply, and, despite the show coming to an end, that magic will never be forgotten.