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5 Life Lessons From One Tree Hill, So Much More Than ‘Just A Show’

One Tree Hill sizzles with its quaint setting and characters who with their distinct voices, give us a glimpse of our own lives on screen. 

One Tree Hill is so much more than just a high school, growing up story. This coming-of-age drama sizzles with a quaint setting which becomes an integral part of the narrative and of course the characters who with their distinct voices, give us a glimpse of our own lives on screen. 

Sitting in North Carolina is One Tree Hill, a fictional sleepy town where these characters live similar lives like ours. Replete with rich experiences and fraught with struggles, their life is not very different from ours. You can reimagine the place and the actors in your head long after you are done watching all the nine seasons.

So, when the drama rolled on Amazon Prime, I couldn’t stop myself from watching it again from season one. Right from scratch. And believe me, I scratched out the treasure that lay hidden from my sight earlier.

Watching the show again made me ponder how forward this show was for the collective years it ran. The writers touched on several issues which are very much relevant even today. The characters these actors had become, were so real and far from perfection that you will feel a personal connect with each one of them.

I looked closer and dug deeper and interestingly, there were so many gems. And these gems are some of the issues that the characters showed us by living them. 

As far as the issues are concerned that the individual characters battled, did they come out unscathed? Did they suffer like any layman? Were there any second chances? Did they face the naysayers in every step? Yes, they cried buckets like us, they went to the point of self-destruction, they gave every plausible excuse for their conflicting behaviour and faced bizarre consequences but they never gave up.

Some toiled for others, some experienced the toil for themselves but in the end, they gathered so much from all their collective experiences.

So, what are the issues that orbited around them? Let’s plumb the depths!

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Absent Parenting is a recipe for disastrous mental health in children

Brooke Davis’s life is the living example of this statement. Her character grew sullen and rebellious attributes sparked in the early seasons. All thanks to her parents who did not give her a childhood that she deserved. They were too busy shovelling their own snow that they forgot to clear their daughter’s walkway.

The result was that her life became a portrait of unkept promises and disappointment. She was left with an indelible mark in her subconscious which kept on appearing uninvited in front of others, and also front of the ones who cared for her.

Parents who are not present in the developmental phase of children or act completely removed from the life of their offspring do not understand the damage that they are causing. Its effect is often long-lasting. The impressions stay in their implicit memory and it is worse than physical afflictions.

It can have adverse psychological effect too as in case of iconic Hollywood diva Marilyn Monroe. She had a difficult childhood and that just gave rise to traumatic experiences. In her case, she started forming illusions and fantasies about her questionable father and often made up stories just to smoothen her wretched nerves. Being emotionally unavailable is invisible until when it starts making an appearance in children’s life. That can happen soon or later when they are in teens, a typically confused phase in one’s life.

With the rush of hormones loosely running amok, the situation will only get irreversible. Abusive behaviour, unsafe ideas like suicidal thoughts, low social interactions and a perennial pessimistic impression about the world around them acts as an impediment to progress in life.  

Not every parent has the liberty to be present all the time and with work commitments taking high priority, parents are not fortunate enough to give as much as time to their children. Absent parenting doesn’t account for the quantity of hours that one gets to spend but it is all about being hundred percent mentally present even in the little time available. It is making the children feel heard and respected. It is making them realize that there exists a time in the parents’ diary where the rest of the world shuts off and only their needs take precedence – physical and emotional needs inclusive.

Haley and Nathan give us a glimpse of what parenting with two oars looks like

Parenting is joining two hands and walking in the path filled with giggles and thunders. By two hands, I mean, both father and mother should be involved in the parenting journey. There should not be one-upmanship or putting the other down in the tasks performed but a journey where there is unblemished respect and also an acceptance to each other’s limitations.

Haley and Nathan parented Jamie in that manner that he looked up to both of them. When Haley went out to pursue her musical career and go on tour, Nathan held the fort and handled the household and Jamie just like Haley had, while he was busy shaping his basketball career. This is one of the relationships that viewers will admire, along with the friendships among the characters.

“You can only help them who let you to help”, comments Mouth

Mouth and Milli’s sweet love story has always found a place in viewers’ heart. But when she started taking drugs in order to feel good about herself and her body, things went downhill. Mouth, being Mouth and all the more understanding, he pulled every stop to turn the corner and help Millie get her grip. Milli, though being vulnerable, shut herself from all of them who wanted to help/support her, including Mouth, who was a pillar of strength for her right from the beginning. Mouth gives her space and withdraws from extending any sort of help.

That is the point where he realises that people who do not wish to be helped should be left alone, to breathe and come terms with the situation and heal. Sometimes, the heat of moment blurs the niceties showed by the dear ones, making a vulnerable person go in a shell. If forced, the victim will scream fire and brimstone and that is just his weakness which has wrapped him at that moment and not to be misinterpreted as a rude and haughty behaviour. Mouth understood this and that is why he gave Millie enough space to heal.

“Happiness is like seasons, not a destination”, hints Julian

The old definition which stands as some destination-oriented phenomenon has to be shed and should be given a justifiable meaning. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be a goal which needs to be achieved but it should be an ongoing process, caught and understood like a journey towards a goal. That said, to understand happiness, all it requires is not to be over-worked on it. Like other emotions, happiness can also be fleeting and ephemeral.

Julian and Brooke, another couple in this show go through a roller coaster ride in their relationship. In one episode, he opens his heart on happiness and utters candidly that he sees happiness as mere seasons. It will come and go and when it comes, it needs to be held and nurtured because in a fraction of a second, it might vanish.

“Listening is an important tool in friendship”, breathes Nathan to Jamie

To be an empathetic person, one needs to listen more. While that is true at all points of time and in any relationship, it is more apt when it comes to friendship. Friendship works two ways. To be able to receive, one has to give. To give an empathetic ear without being judgemental is a best gift that one can provide to their friends.

When Jamie returned after spending a few months with his parents on Haley’s musical tour, he was surrounded with his friends in Tree hill. The group stood agape with mouths wide open when Jamie started regaling them with his experiences of his tour. But over a period of time, they started to bend their heads low and started to sulk.

Jamie was simply talking without asking or listening to their stories. Disappointment arose and they turned their backs at him. Knowing the real cause, Nathan took Jamie under his wing and shared his two cents. He said that a true friend listens and not just talks and that, all this while Jamie was sharing his juicy stories but he did not stop once to know his friends’ lives and how they spent their time.

Before you are done with season three of One Tree Hill, thanks to the way these issues are explored, you have achieved a stronger relationship with these set of stars and the lives they led.

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About the Author

Saranya Iyer

A writer/Educator and Spanish Language trainer. Loves Reading, Music and Art. Favorite Author is Jane Austen who inspired me throughout my writing journey. I mainly write on Drama fiction, social issues, relationships and parenting. read more...

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