I first sat down to watch One Tree Hill on September 23, 2003. I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school. We'd been assigned in my Honors English class to write an analysis on a drama. This was back when I still expected to grow up to be six feet tall and being an athlete was at the top of my priority list, so I naturally wanted to write about this new show about a high school basketball team. That was nine years ago. I don't actually remember turning in that paper and I don't remember the grade I got on it. But little did I know that sitting down to watch that pilot episode for a school assignment would lead to writing this blog post almost a decade later.
We all know I love TV and I have a number of shows I watch on a regular basis. But I've never loved a show as much as One Tree Hill. It's the only show I've ever watched - and ever anticipate watching - from beginning to end. What started out as a show about two brothers' rivalry on the high school basketball court evolved into a show about the importance of family and friendship and working to make your dreams come true. The stories of Lucas, Peyton, Nathan, Haley, Brooke and all their friends were what resonated me and the roughly one and a half million other people who have stuck with the show to the very end. You saw parts of yourself in each character and in their journeys to becoming their best selves. OTH was never the coolest, edgiest show, and it never tried to be. If anything, it was always an earnest, heartfelt portrayal of growing up and figuring out who you want to be. It always taught that the most important thing in life is having people you love to spend that life with. It was a show that aimed to inspire, motivate and uplift instead of merely push the envelope and entertain.
The funny thing is that I have so many specific memories associated with the show that I can't even count them all. I distinctly remember my mom taking me to Target to buy the season 1 DVDs (and getting each subsequent season on DVD every single Christmas). Watching the season 4 premiere with Alex, sitting on towels on the floor of the family room because my mom had had the carpets cleaned that day. Graduating from high school the same year the characters did on the show. The 100th episode during Tree Hill Taco Tuesdays at Karly's apartment. Taking a break from packing to sit down and watch it with Alex for the last time before I went into the MTC. Watching the first five seasons with Katie for weeks before I left. And having it be the first thing I had to catch up on once I got home.
The stories and characters of OTH always felt so relatable and accessible to me - no matter what ridiculous things were going on in the show. It was something that helped me through all four years of high school and was the familiar thing I took with me once I got to college.
A huge part of One Tree Hill was always the music. Without OTH, I wouldn't have Gavin DeGraw Tyler Hilton, Kate Voegele, The Wreckers, Bethany Joy Lenz, Michelle Featherstone, Laura Izibor, Wakey!Wakey!, or even Lupe Fiasco and Fall Out Boy in my music library. And I probably wouldn't be the kid who believes in the power of music to change anything and everything, to make your day infinitely better when you find that perfect song.
After nine seasons and 187 episodes, the series finale of OTH is tonight. It's a night I've braced myself for season after season and it's finally here. So here's to the end of my favorite show. As Haley says in the preview for the finale tonight: The time we've spent together has meant so much.
And never forget, there is only One Tree Hill.
PS. Yes I am aware that this post sounds incredibly cheesy and I take this show way too seriously. Just humor me.