May 2018

In this paper (my first research paper over 15 pages, really, if you don’t count my introductory history course papers), I compared the ways in which the outsider, masculinity, and other story components of The O.C. (Fox 2003-2007) and One Tree Hill (The WB/The CW 2003-2012) were portrayed, elements which I argued influenced their respective and relative success.

Was this paper inspired by a vendetta I had about The O.C. being cancelled? Maybe. (Yes, you have done the math correctly; I was eight years old when it got axed, and I’m somehow still the last person that cares.) However, I’m really grateful to my professor for encouraging me on this paper because it taught me how to approach critical media research and use a comparative approach to discuss two different texts.

So here’s an update no one has asked for: the simple answer to this has a lot more to do with industrial factors than content factors (as always), just because Fox and The CW are, believe it or not, very different entities with wholly different strategies. I could detail out why it was smart of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to more closely align themselves with The CW/WarnerMedia after The O.C. got canceled – please see Gossip Girl if you’re confused – but I think we get the gist there.

The far more interesting idea that is buried within this first attempt at a paper is the idea of the auteur theory in teen television specifically. Not even touching the steaming mess that is Mark Schwahn and his career (I will not), I’m more talking about Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. This gets brought up a little bit in Linda Binding’s and Andrea Bergstrom’s The O.C.: A Critical Analysis (a book that I am just…so happy exists), so I would recommend that you check that out if you want to read a bit more of what I’m thinking. But if I ever revisit this paper, that is the angle I would be coming from.