Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Don't Wanna Be...

So I'm going to confess. Since I'm not Catholic and I don't really do the whole "honesty" thing in person, I've come to the DI Arts Blog to unburden my conscience. Here goes:

I watch "One Tree Hill." Obsessively.

I know, Meryn, the nut who hates all things preachy and masturbatory on television. How can I enjoy this vapid, one-note, overly dramatic soap opera with some of the worst plots and unbelievable characters EVER?

It all started when I moved into my house last August. I found that my new home's cable roster included SoapNet. Now I could spend four hours a day watching reruns of "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The O.C." I was in estrogen heaven.

In order to get to my Californian-sudsy dish, I had to muddle through two hours of North-Carolinian muck known as "One Tree Hill." I already had a bias against the show because of my friends who watched it, and the fact that Fall Out Boy appeared on it not once but TWICE. Plus, every episode is named after a song and the songs usually suck, much like the music featured in the show. Plus, it was a teen drama named after a U2 song. SO WRONG. But I watched it anyway, you know, "because it was on." And I couldn't stop.

I think it's the relationships. I hate everything about the show, especially this season, with the manufactured drama of a random death and the saccharine-sweet sorrow that follows. But for all of the contrived conflict and throwaway dialogue, much of which sounds like it came from an emo eighth-grader's AIM profile, there's something kind of comforting and entertaining, and it involves Sophia Bush, Chad Michael Murray, and Hilarie Burton.

These three are Brooke, Lucas, and Peyton, and their dramatic love triangle/best friend struggle makes the show worth coming back to and impossible to stop watching. It isn't that I identify with these privileged rich brats and their faux-heartbreak, but Peyton and Lucas are like a bleach blond Ryan Atwood and Marissa Cooper, only far less tragic and with a worse soundtrack and less violence. It is SO pathetic to watch two girls rip their friendship apart over a guy, as Brooke and Peyton have, but they actually change and feel and so it seems more realistic than most teen dramas we've seen. Plus, Peyton seems like someone who actually feels! She's like a young Cristina Yang, holding in her emotions and hiding, though instead of using a scalpel as catharsis she picks up some paintbrushes or chalk.

For all of the outlandish stunts on "One Tree Hill," and most of them are pretty bad (guys performing at a strip club to make money, Lucas' father murdering Lucas' uncle, and a crazy nanny who kidnaps Lucas' nephew), the heart of the show is true: some people will do some crazy shit for love. Peyton is constantly doing dramatic art projects, whether it's painting a mural on the River Court where Lucas plays basketball or making a plea via her webcam, homegirl will do anything for Lucas except the very thing he wants her to do. She won't give herself fully to Lucas because she has been let down too many times. And you'd have to be stone, or stoned, to not appreciate that level of realism.

Brooke is your prototypical bad girl with a heart, with an acid tongue and less witty quips than her "The O.C." counterpart, Summer Roberts. Brooke's a slut but she just wants to be loved, and she's so sure Lucas is the one. She's a great friend and the worst of all enemies, but she's hurt. Thus her relationship with Peyton, her best friend, is volatile. But at least these two girls are more like the teenage girls I knew than anyone on "Laguna Beach," or even my beloved "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "The O.C." They aren't admirable, they aren't that smart, but they feel, and they can at least admit their own shallow selfishness.

Lucas is pretty boring, and thinks he's deep, takes himself too seriously, and is really not that hot. But he loves Peyton, and it's hard not to love that. Even when he's with Brooke, his heart belongs to Peyton. Half the fun of watching "One Tree Hill" is waiting for Lucas and Peyton to get back together. It's like a Southern, less-diverse, dumber "Grey's Anatomy."

"One Tree Hill" provides some realistic and at times cathartic high school nostalgia. So if you ever catch me watching it, now you know why. But ask me to admit it in person, and you're likely to receive an eye roll. I get that the show isn't "Hill Street Blues," but it's not "The Simple Life" either. And were it not for Brooke, Peyton, and Lucas, whose only real purpose is to further the Brooke-Peyton storyline, "One Tree Hill" would be one tree too many.

-Meryn, who is, in case you couldn't tell, a Peyton all the way.

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