One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush delves into her experiences on the teen show’s set, stating she and her co-stars were controlled and manipulated.
One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush delves into her experiences on the teen show’s set, stating she and her co-stars were controlled and manipulated. First airing on The WB, then The CW when the network rebranded, One Tree Hill stands as one of the most popular teen shows of all time. The series primarily focused on the rivalry between siblings Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Nathan Scott (James Lafferty) as they competed for glory on their school’s basketball team. Also starring Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz, One Tree Hill ran for 9 seasons and remains best remembered for its romantic relationships and tackling of complex topics.
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Though the show is still considered a major part of the YA TV genre, recent years have proven the set of One Tree Hill wasn’t always a positive space. In 2017, series wrier Audrey Wauchope came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn. Cast members including Bush, Burton, and Lenz soon penned an open letter supporting Wauchope and condemning Schwahn for his actions during the show’s run. Schwahn was also accused of the same behavior on the set of E!’s The Royals, which ultimately resulted in his firing.
Bush, who played popular cheerleader Brooke Davis throughout the entire show’s run, recently appeared on the Chicks in the Office podcast (via E!). During her appearance, she touched upon her time on One Tree Hill and reflected on the strange position she and her co-stars were in as they played teenagers, but were expected to at like adults. “Looking back on it, we can see the ways in which we were fetishized and we had this lens of adultification put over us with this idea that we were supposed to know everything and have answers, and be, ultimately, professional,” Bush recalled. At the same time, she added, they were “also looked at kind of as pawns.” This led her to assert she and her co-stars were controlled by the adults:
“We had grown-ups who we trusted, who now we understand were being really controlling and manipulative—who didn’t want us to be close ’cause they thought we would band together and ask for more money. It’s just so weird and those were just things we were not aware of at the time.”
Though Bush did not give any names, it seems likely that Schwahn is one of the adults who were “controlling and manipulative.” As Bush pointed out elsewhere in the interview, she was only a few years out from being at an all-girls school; there was a lot she didn’t know about both high school and television sets. To hear One Tree Hill‘s cast felt so confused about their place on set, but also couldn’t go to those in a position of authority is disheartening. Yet, as Bush added after, “I want my sets to be really professional—we’re not here to tolerate a bunch of dilly-dallying or bulls–t.”
One Tree Hill will likely always remain a beloved show, but recent years have led it to be viewed through a new lens, particularly by those who starred on it. Burton recently stated she would love to reboot One Tree Hill with a woman at the helm as a way to combat how men were the ones telling female stories during the show’s run. As hard as it can be to hear, it’s also important to know what went down on sets like One Tree Hill‘s in the past, if only to then be able to create something more positive for the future.
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