A Gender/Feminist Perspective Analysis – One Tree Hill Series


One Tree Hill is an American television drama that follows the lives of two half-brothers, Lucas Scott and Nathan Scott. Dan Scott, the father they both share, manages to keep his two sons far from each other but not until the past and present collide do they find out what relationship they have. Dan Scott is seen as the ultimate role model for both of his sons while in the meantime he plays the “mother role” for one of his sons, Nathan, since his mother was always occupied with work. The season series revolve around close family interrelationships and how the love between 2 half brothers evolves as the time goes by. The target audience for this show is people between the ages of 16-23 that enjoy watching American Drama series.  In the show bending of hegemony leads to playing around with the gender roles and violating the status quo in which gender normalities are altered and some things are seen to be more “normal” then the others. The bending of hegemony can be understood through the liberal feminist perspective, more specially the oppositional, preferred feminist reading.

Lucas Scott is the shows primary protagonist. Lucas is a sensitive, talented street-side basketball player, but his skills are appreciated only by his friends at the river court. Throughout the series, Lucas learns to despise his half brother especially because he was his competition. In the meantime, Lucas was raised by a single parent, his mother, Karen. In many episodes Karen tries to play a role of a father but she fails to get her point across. In these instances she is seen as being “odd, unsuccessful and unhappy”. This demonstrated that Lucas’ mother was not suited for the position of being the “father” of the family. Therefore a site of struggle was identified. Moreover, when Lucas had finally been introduced to his half brother Nathan, he was called a “sensitive girl” by his friends. Lucas struggled to comprehend that he had a half brother and that he had finally met him. He had gotten emotional and he had portrayed this “ladylike” gesture that his friends thought wasn’t entirely masculine of him to do. Lucas never had a father by his side to teach him “not to cry” or “to take it like a man”. That portion of his life he had missed on had been depicted in that specific moment.

Furthermore, Nathan Scott known as the primary character in the series, is a popular, affluent basketball player who is also the star of his high school team. Nathan portrays this dynamic role where is the best looking high school student and he is the type that doesn’t take loosing for an answer. This role for him was seen as “normal” until his half brother came along and distorted his “image” and the way people perceived him as.  Nathan had taken his popular role as granted and had seen it as being “normal” and “desirable” by his colleagues at school. In the meantime, Nathan was also struggling to take on the pressure his Father, Dan Scott, was putting him through when it came to sports and family life. He had realized Dan was taking on the “mother” role since his mother was absent but yet refused to come to his senses. Nathan at one point had gotten fed up with his dad ordering him around all the time and had said: “you’re like a woman dad, being my dad is good enough, so stop please”, Nathan had realized how much it was agitating him that his dad was taking on the “mother” role and that he couldn’t handle his father undertaking all the duties a mother would.

Lastly, Dan Scott is seen as the primary antagonist who was a former college ball player and a owner of a car dealership. He ended up abandoning his ex-wife Karen and his son Lucas in order to marry Deb and to have his other son Nathan shortly after. Throughout Lucas’s life Dan was never present to fulfill the “father” duties since he had left him at a young age. Until later on does he find out that both of his sons are in the same town, and are competing to be on their high schools basketball team. In the meantime, Dan’s wife Deb was preoccupied with work and never had time to spend with the family. Dan had decided to take over the “mother” and “father” role for his son Nathan. Bending of hegemony is seen when Dan takes on the role as the mother of the house where he cooks, cleans, and coaches Nathan basketball. When looking at Dan’s role of attempting to portray both of the idealistic genders is it seen to be “normal” for him to be doing all of the duties but it isn’t seen as being “very ladylike” and it contradicts the gender identities. Dan’s role taking of being a mother as well had shown to Nathan how much of role model he was for him since he was capable of doing all of the “normal” parent jobs.

The Tree hill series challenges Hegemony and can be acknowledged as a liberal feminist perspective. Both of the brothers were lacking one of their parents as they were growing up causing the remaining parent to be dependent on to play both of the parent roles. As the two half brothers evolve from being enemies to loving brother they start sharing this incredible bond that was unbreakable. The Tree hill series demonstrated well the bending of hegemony and how the characters portrayed gender roles that were seen as “normal” or “desirable” in this American drama. Moreover, Dan was involved in role-taking where the ideals of the gender identities were undertaken and were altered to suit the characters lifestyle.

CW Television Network. One Tree Hill. February 6, 2012, Retrieved from: http://www.google.ca/imgres?q=lucas,+nathan+and+dan+scott&um=1&hl=en&bi


3 thoughts on “A Gender/Feminist Perspective Analysis – One Tree Hill Series

  1. I personally have never watched an episode of One Tree Hill. It seems clear though (as the author has said) that the show does fit into a liberal feminist perspective. Looking purely at the parenting of each of the parents a viewer could draw a conclusion about single parenting. A role that some may argue is more suited for a woman than a man. I believe, however, that the analysis gives more evidence for an occluded preferred reading rather than an oppositional preferred reading.

    The show seems to definitely fit into a liberal feminist perspective. It might be useful however to say why it fits into this perspective. For instance the fact that Nathan’s father does many tasks that one may attribute as tasks of a mother figure and Nathan’s mother is always working which is a behaviour usually associated with a father figure shows not only “the inclusion of women in traditionally male-dominated areas” (Sellnow 92) but the inclusion of a male in a traditionally female-dominated area. I find what is most interesting of this analysis is the impression viewers are left to have of each of the single parents.

    The analysis says that Lucas’s mother is “odd, unsuccessful and unhappy” while Nathan’s father owns a car dealership and manages to cook and clean and help his son with basketball. I believe that when you put these two characters side by side you get an occluded preferred reading. A reading that says, “Women can’t do everything men can do”. This message can be perceived when you compare the two families to each other. Lucas mother as stated before is “odd, unsuccessful and unhappy” and Lucas himself is sensitive and is only respected among his friends for his skills in basketball. Nathan’s father on the other hand owns a car dealership and acts as Nathan’s mother (even though Nathan does not appreciate it) and Nathan himself is seen as superior to Lucas because of his popularity in school and his star status on the basketball team. From this information one may perceive that Nathan’s father did a better job of being a single parent then Lucas’s mother which thus gives off the message that “Women can’t do everything men can do”. Furthermore this message is an occluded preferred reading because it delivers this message in a non-traditional way.

    I agree completely that this show fit’s with a liberal feminist perspective because it shows such characters filling in roles that traditional ideology would find as not “normal”. However I think that the evidence given can be read with an occluded preferred reading in mind because of the differences between the single parents in One Tree Hill.

    – Julia Yaroshinsky


    Sellnow, Deanna D. “Feminist Perspective.” The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010. 89-114. Print.

  2. I am not sure where you got this info from or if you were fabricating info to fit the needs of a project or something… Dan Scott did not take up the mother role. He barely even fulfilled the role of a father. He was manipulative, mean, condescending, and did not care for Nathan in any way except to preen him for the major basketball leagues.
    I would also appreciate it if you would direct my to the “you’re like a mother” quote because I am quite certain this was never said.

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