When Your Favorite Things Disappoint You: One Tree Hill & Sexual Harassment

In the past few months, Hollywood has been—to borrow a term—“draining the swamp”. Every day, it seems, another director, producer, or actor has come under fire for sexual harassment and assault. Though I was disgusted by all of the allegations, I was not surprised. In fact, I became hopeful: in a culture that enables men in positions of power to take advantage of women, I was finally beginning to see a future where this would be unacceptable.

However, I was surprised when Mark Schwahn, the creator of one of my favorite shows, One Tree Hill, was accused of sexual harassment by the entire cast.

Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

I am your stereotypical teenage girl when it comes to television shows. Though I love comedies, corny television drama centered on love triangles and petty fights are what get me fired up. When I started watching One Tree Hill a few years ago that is exactly what I was looking for. However, the show turned into a lot more for me. Its words inspired me, its characters stuck with me, and it honestly has turned into a comfort whenever I’m upset. One Tree Hill reminds me to value who I truly love and to keep tirelessly pursuing my goals in life. Though I’m aware it is just a television show, I was endlessly disappointed when I found out the claims against Mark Schwahn.

In the letter filed by Audrey Wauchope, a writer on OTH, the accusations honestly made me feel sick. Wauchope said that the women on the show were “manipulated psychologically and emotionally” and felt “physically unsafe.” She even said that some of the women were in treatment due “post-traumatic stress disorder” caused by Schwahn’s actions. Wauchope was not the only one to come forward: notable cast members Sophia Bush, Bethany Joy Lenz, Hilarie Burton, and Daneel Harris—who played Brooke Davis, Haley James Scott, Peyton Sawyer, and Rachel Gatina, respectively—also signed off on the letter.

These brave women are only a few among the eighteen who signed off on the letter detailing their horrific experiences during the filming of One Tree Hill. On Schwahn’s other show, The Royals, twenty-five members of the cast and crew came forward to write a similar letter.

Photo Credit: Newsweek

Hearing what these women had to go through while creating two successful television shows honestly disgusted me. I even felt bad about myself, as if I could have known they were being sexually harassed while watching the show years later. I didn’t know how a creator like Schwahn could pen an episode like where Peyton Sawyer (Burton) gets almost date-raped and yet force himself on her behind-the-scenes. The hypocrisy is honestly astounding.

I have gained so much respect for the women of the OTH cast. Though I was a fan of all of them before, considering how much life they brought to their badass characters, I now can see how badass they are in real life. They withstood close to a decade of sexual harassment and assault, and to finally share their experiences is a mark of true strength. Not only are their fans supporting them, but their male castmates have shared several remarks of support as well.

Sexual harassment and assault is an endemic problem in our society. However, in Hollywood, it is especially rampant. The glorified secrecy and mystery of fame culture enable those in positions of power to hurt women, other men, and children looking for their “big break”. A power trip is not an excuse to manipulate naïve, trusting individuals to do your bidding, sexual or not.

As for Mark Schwahn, he is starting to get some of what he deserves: he has been suspended from his show, The Royals, indefinitely.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations that have started a firestorm, I applaud the women of One Tree Hill coming forward to share their story. I am proud of people who have come forward to share their story, so that change may occur. And for those who do not want to share their struggle, I am behind you. I am proud of you. We have to end a society where sexual harassment is the norm. We have to believe that that is possible.

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!