About three years ago, my company upgraded our exercise room with new exercise machines, each with its own built-in TV. Before this, there was only one TV for the whole room, and passive-aggressive channel-changing was common. I happened to exercise on the same schedule as a group of women who were addicted to The Bold and the Beautiful. But that's a story for another day.
For a few weeks, I flipped channels on the elliptical, never really interested in anything I saw (but glad to have options). Then a show on SoapNet caught my attention. It was about a pair of feuding, basketball-playing teenage guys, who were somehow brothers even though they were the same age and not twins. I had to have a friend explain it all to me. And that's how I discovered my now all-time favorite guilty pleasure show, One Tree Hill.
OTH is a teen soap. But it has better overall character development than any other teen soap I've seen. The main characters are all passionate about something – art, basketball, writing, fashion, music, whatever. They care about doing something important with their lives. They make a lot of mistakes, but they (mostly) face their personal demons and overcome them. They're devoted to each other. Some of them sleep around, but that choice usually results in real consequences. On top of all this, there's an older generation of characters (a coach, a hero, a villain, two women caught in the middle) and the sins of the father frequently catch up to the sons.
I have to admit that I haven't seen most of the later/current seasons. I've seen season 5 (which jumped forward four years) on SoapNet, and while it's pretty good, some of the plotlines are 100% absurd (one climactic moment even made it onto The Soup). Since then, most of the original actors have left the show. But I've watched seasons 1-4 multiple times. And the season 6 wedding always makes me cry because it's a fulfillment of everything that came before. I am a total sucker for relationships with long-term history and layers of meaning, real or fictional, friendly or romantic. In the end, that's probably why I love this show.
I've also fallen in love with Wilmington, North Carolina (the fictional Tree Hill of the title, where the show is filmed). I know it's a strange tourist destination, but I want to go there and see it for myself. It seems like an ideal place for me - a small, cute city that has seasons, trees, and a river, but is also like 15 minutes from the ocean.