Don’t Go Away

Posted by: Morgan on August 18th, 2010

Filed under: Essays and Thoughts
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An unsettling rumor has emerged in the past twenty-four hours. It was first reported by E!, which cites an unnamed source close to the show. Representation for neither the show nor Bethany Joy Galeotti have confirmed or denied these reports. First things first, if Galeotti is indeed pregnant, we at It Was Just a Joke offer a hearty congratulations to her! Now, that unsettling rumor. What’s being reported is that, should the CW pick up the show for a full twenty-two episode season, Joy will not continue past the initial twelve episode order. One Tree Hill cannot exist without Bethany Joy Galeotti and her character, Haley James Scott.

One Tree Hill was dealt a blow when they lost Lucas and Peyton at the end of season six. Recently, my two co-webs and I chose season seven as the weakest in the show’s run. In the post, we detailed our problems as having to do with the infusion of new characters taking away time from the major characters – the ones we loved for 130 episodes prior to their arrival. This show absolutely needs Haley, Nathan, and Brooke. More specifically, this show needs Nathan and Haley.

To paraphrase Lost, “If something goes wrong, Nathan and Haley are this show’s constant.” Last season, they were the show’s constant. When doing interviews for her musical version of The Notebook, Joy said that one of the things that stuck with her about the story of Noah and Allie was that their love endured. It struck me when I read her comment, that the same can be said of Nathan and Haley. Their love has endured throughout seven whole seasons of One Tree Hill. That is a remarkable feat for a primetime show. Throughout all the twists, turns, and changes in Tree Hill, the one thing that cannot be denied is that Nathan and Haley love each other.

Aside from the importance of her relationship with Nathan, Haley has always served an important purpose for the other characters of Tree Hill. In the past, at one point or another, they have all come to rely on her. I think this may have something to do with why her mother’s death hit her so hard, but that’s another thought for another post. Haley is strong and she is stable and her friends and family all count on her. She is monumentally important to them. If they were faced with having to do without her, that might make for some good drama. It just is not necessarily a show I’m interested in watching.

I have felt since I began watching One Tree Hill, that of the five core characters, Joy is easily the best actor. She is subtle. Haley is subtle, which is perhaps why I have always gravitated toward her. When I say that Haley is subtle, I mean that she is about as subtle as one can get in Tree Hill. The thing about Joy’s performances is that I have never once been able to find a moment where it looks like she’s acting. Her acting is subtle and it is natural. When the show writes for Haley, really writes for Haley, she brings it. Every single time, she brings it. The scene in the third season premiere where Haley goes to Nathan and he turns her away is beautifully and heartbreakingly acted by Joy. She also handles the little moments with a great deal of grace.

I specifically want to mention her performance in 6.11 – We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me). I don’t love that episode. I think the only characters who benefit from it are Lucas and Peyton. But Joy is wonderful in it. She’s over the top. I take back what I said in the previous paragraph – in this episode, I can tell that Joy is acting. And that’s the point. One of the things I do like about this episode is that it doesn’t just take place in the 1940’s, but it is an homage to the movies of the 1940’s. Joy has adjusted her performance accordingly. If you’ve watched movies from that era, you know that the performances – especially from the women – are a bit over the top. They are more dramatic, they are more subtle, and there’s something about the way they deliver their lines that feels grand, like a presentation. As someone who loves classic movies, I love Joy’s performance in this episode.

Let’s get back to the point, though. This show cannot exist with Joy and Haley. I would go so far as to call the actress and character MVP. The writing for her isn’t always there the way it is for Nathan or for Brooke, but viewers can always count on Haley and Joy. If the show loses Haley, it loses the Nathan and Haley relationship. That relationship is this show’s constant. It is its backbone. If she leaves, the show needs to have Nathan leave with her. Is that fair to James Lafferty? Possibly not. I do believe it’s what is best for the show. What would be even better, would be if the show just ended after that twelve episode order.

When the seventh season ended, it didn’t feel like One Tree Hill was over. I think, though, that a lot of viewers assumed that season eight would be its last. The CW has offered conflicting reports as of late, but Sophia Bush has stated that the main cast members are only contracted through season eight. The show needs to prepare to end. Eight seasons is impressive. Eight seasons is especially impressive when the fact that the show has always flown under the radar is taken into consideration. To say the show hasn’t had any love from critics is an understatement. It has survived purely on fan loyalty. I think that a way to reward that loyalty is actually to end the show so that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Perhaps Joy’s pregnancy and possible departure are a sign. This show needs Nathan and Haley, it needs Haley James. Without her, it simply wouldn’t be One Tree Hill.

If the show is given a full twenty-two episode order, I understand if Joy wants to devote time to her family. No one can fault her for that. A big part of me does hope that if those ten extra episodes happen, that Joy will see out the show until it is over for good. The bottom line is, though, that I think Mark Schwahn and the producers need to be writing this season and every episode as if they’re the last. Ellie once told Peyton, “Every song has a coda, a final movement, whether it fades out or crashes away. Every song ends, is that any reason not to enjoy the music?” It’s good advice to follow and I think that should be kept in mind as the rest of this season is planned. I think that would be in this show’s best interest.

*This post is named after a song by Oasis.