Raise your hand if you’re also taking a massive trip down memory lane with a One Tree Hill re-watch alongside the leading ladies while listening to Drama Queens podcast. I am, and so far, it’s everything I didn’t know I needed.
In One Tree Hill’s second episode, “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most,” Lucas Scott tells Peyton Sawyer that her art matters and even I didn’t realize I’d have such a visceral to that scene alongside the actresses. It’s a pivotal moment not only because of what it represents, but how much it foreshadows.
Peyton’s art does matter, and Peyton’s art has always mattered. 15-year-old me dug up as many pictures as she could fine online to plaster them onto her wall because something about her art always spoke to the kid in me who was just trying to fit in. And isn’t that the whole point of One Tree Hill? These kids just trying to fit in.
There are a lot of elements in One Tree Hill that feel fabricated for the sake of television, but when the series allowed its characters to be vulnerable, that’s where it was at its best. And from the very first season, Lucas was one of the characters given the opportunity to exercise that vulnerability most intricately because he was our eyes and ears into the new world.
He was the first male character given the opportunity to show a more sensitive side, and that’s largely inspired by his upbringing from a single mother along with Peyton’s art.
And the thing with Peyton Sawyer is that even though she appears to be stoic, there is something about her that tells us that her demons within are larger than what she lets on. No, pre-teen me didn’t realize this, but adult me looks at her and understands that she represents so much of who we are as teens and that’s someone who’s looking for their place in the world.
A world that seems too big for us, unwelcoming at times, and dark. But art matters—whatever that art may be, however it’s showcased or even it’s thrown away, it’s a reflection of who we are as a person and someone somewhere is going to appreciate it whether the rest of the world does or does not.
And that’s the fundamental truth that carries out throughout the series’ run as we start to see the details that Peyton’s art continues to be a reflection of the truth people are afraid to tell. Peyton’s art continues to be an escape for her, and Peyton’s art continues to be an inspiration for all those around her (even those who might not understand what she meant to say).
One Tree Hill did many things wrong, but what it got right was the constant reminder that what we do matters. We are not as invisible as we think we are, and neither is our art.
In my case, art comes in writing, and while little old me had no idea what kind of a job she’d do as an adult (or just how much she’d cling to the “I want to draw something that means something to someone” line), today, the writer in me understands this down my very bones. It sounds dramatic because really, shouldn’t we write because we want to, or in Peyton’s case to draw just because?
But the truth is, it’s human to want to form connections with our art and it’s human not to seek validation per se, but to know that what you’ve done matters to someone else.
One Tree Hill always knew how to set up storylines that’d come back around to leave a lasting impression on the audience and Peyton’s art, along with the impact it has on Lucas from the very beginning is one of those things. Additionally, the choice to tell her is a lovely part of the scene too because it’s a reminder that people deserve to know when their work is good or worthwhile.
This is something that will stay with Peyton for a long, long time. Whether she realizes it in that moment, it’s monumental in its effect.