“There’s no shame in being afraid. Hell, we’re all afraid. What you gotta do is figure out what you’re afraid of because when you put a face on it, you can beat it. Better yet, you can use it.” This quote from Whitey Durham, Tree Hill High School’s basketball coach, perfectly encapsulates the strength of the female cast and crew of the hit television show, “One Tree Hill.” After Audrey Wauchope, a writer for the show, came forward about sexual harassment on Twitter, 18 female members from the show released a joint statement commending Wauchope for her honesty, and further revealing that it was showrunner Mark Schwann’s harassing behavior that caused so much damage, according to USA Today. The series continued for nine seasons from 2003 to 2012. Throughout those nine years, these women had to go into work everyday and face an emotionally disruptive workplace. Although it took five years post-production for the truth to be revealed, it could not have come at a more vital time. Hollywood is being turned upside-down with sexual harassment allegations, including film producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey. While it’s disheartening to hear of so many allegations, it’s empowering to have people come forward against their harasser and have them face consequences for their unjust and unbearable actions.
As a big fan of “One Tree Hill,” my heart breaks to hear how some of my favorite characters and the people who made their roles possible had to endure such a toxic work environment. Tree Hill is suppose to be the place “where everything’s better and everything’s safe,” as the women refer to in their statement; although they did not want to taint this image for their fans, they are our Tree Hill. Every time we see Sophia Bush, we think of the strong, independent Brooke Davis. When we hear our favorite song, we think of Hilarie Burton’s character, Peyton Sawyer, who taught us to hold onto the music that makes us feel something. We are inspired to break out of our comfort zone and expand our intelligence when we see Bethany Joy Lenz and think of Haley James’ resilience. Not only are these leading ladies important, but the women behind the screen are what made up the admirable characteristics in our favorite characters that could not have been better represented.
As a young woman entering the workforce soon, I’ve been greatly troubled by the exposure of sexual harassment claims made within the last few months. It’s hard entering the “real world” as it is and these situations only add to the turmoil. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable, threatened or emotionally ruined due to a higher power at their job. We need to protect our coworkers and friends, in order to provide a stable, enjoyable work experience. So thank you women of “One Tree Hill” for your bravery and commitment to change. Because of you, we may be able to enter into a workforce “where everything’s better and everything’s safe.”