Anyone who grew up in the 2000s remembers the impact of One Tree Hill. The teen show was everywhere, and one fan recently found a picture of two of the characters, the on-again-off-again Lucas and Peyton, played by Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton in an adolescent psychology textbook. "Adolescents are exposed to sex in many contexts, including TV and the Internet," the caption read. "Is it surprising, then, that adolescents are so curious about sex and tempted to experiment with sex?" Twitter user @stylesimba tagged Burton, who took the time to reply.
"Embarrassed by this," Burton tweeted. "Teen girl sexuality was a cornerstone of [One Tree Hill], so its gross to me that there were no women in positions of power there. No one we could turn to to advocate for us. Men telling the stories of girl sexuality is a red flag. I want a do-over with a girl boss." Burton's costar Sophia Bush responded with a "co-sign [red heart emoji]," and guest star Kate Voegele added "Me three. I'm breathing a sigh of relief just thinking about a woman making those wardrobe decisions!"
Many actresses from One Tree Hill have spoken out about the toxic behavior of showrunner Mark Schwann, who sexually harrassed a number of young women behind the scenes. In 2017, 18 female members of the cast and crew, including Bush and Burton, wrote an open letter about the abuse. Mark Schwahn's behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an 'open secret,'" the women wrote. "Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be."
"Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal," they continued. "And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened."
Bush opened up on Ashely Graham's podcast Pretty Big Deal about what she faced behind the scenes and how she was often uncomfortable with the content. "There was this sort of really weird thing...you look back at it, at the time I didn't realize how inappropriate it was, but again, this is a long time ago," Bush explained. "I remember my boss kept writing scenes for me to be in my underwear. And I was like, 'I'm not doing this, this is inappropriate. Like, I don't think this is what we should be teaching 16-year-old girls to be doing, and to be seeking validation this way."
When Bush would push back, she was told "you're not 16." Bush was 20 years old at the time. "He literally said to me, 'Well you're the one with the big f—ing rack everybody wants to see,'" said Bush. "And I was like, 'What?! Well, I'm not doing it!'" Bush turned up to set the next day in a turtleneck, claiming that this was what she would wear as long as they kept writing scenes like that. "I was really ballsy and I didn't even know it," said Bush.