Tube Talk: Watching CW’s One Tree Hill for the first time

When a new year rolls around, it can be good to try something new. On Christmas, my cousins—Linds and Dano, sisters in their early 20s—told me one of their favorite shows is One Tree Hill. I’d seen a few scenes, but had never gotten into it enough to watch an entire episode. (The fact that it’s been airing opposite Lost this season just might be why.)

Melding UPN with the WB brought the show a nice ratings hike on CW, where it follows America’s Top Model. Now, CW and Sunkist are sponsoring a “Bring One Tree Hill to Your Town” contest. Viewers can submit a 30-second video for a chance to have an episode of the series shot in their hometown. Details and rules can be found at, but the deadline is Jan. 7, so if you want to enter, you better hurry.

With all this One Tree Hill hoopla, I figured it was beyond time for me to give the show a serious look. I knew going in it would be difficult to follow all the subplots since it’s a long-running serial, so I didn’t expect to understand everything. But it didn’t take long to realize Nathan and Lucas were the half-brothers at the center of the story. Much of the episode I saw revolved around a pivotal high school basketball game, so the girls—all in cheerleader uniforms—blended into one. Only their hair colors helped separate them at first.

Then, the cheerleaders had a funny, yet pointed, scene as they drove to the game. They role-played, spouting digs about each other’s flaws, which led to a slapfest between two girls when one of them took it too far. That scene alone conveyed some differences in the superficially similar characters.

What I didn’t expect was how well the show would contrast the teens’ problems with those of the adults. (I really enjoyed seeing Northern Exposure’s Barry Corbin as the basketball coach. That guy can play subtle dramatic moments—his character standing alone surveying the damage of a car crash—every bit as deftly as he does comedy.)

Yes, the teens’ problems were heightened beyond reality, but according to my cousin, Linds, that’s the appeal: “We all went through drama in high school, and even though ours was never as dramatic or huge as what’s going on on the show, it’s fun to slightly compare it. I also think that it’s a mini soap opera, which always attracts and addicts people.”

Dano enjoys constant surprises stemming from the ever-changing relationships among the core characters: “There’s usually a big twist every show, which really keeps you in suspense and excited to see the next show.” It also makes it fun for the real-life sisters to speculate on upcoming events.

Linds says, “One thing I love most about the show is that at the end, someone talks and sums up the meaning of what is all going on—if you listen, it can really mean a lot to you and a part of your own life.”

Verdict: I’ll probably tune in again.

And to anyone entering the contest, let me know if you win!

Programming note: One Tree Hill airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CW.

From the Jan. 3-9, 2007, issue

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