brooke davis from 'one tree hill' was one of the best characters on tv
What we learned about coming of age from Sophia Bush's role on the hit 00s show.
Still from One Tree Hill.
“What’s underneath the clothes Brooke Davis?” was the cheeky, yet adorable question lobbied by six-year-old Jamie Scott to his godmother Brooke Davis on the hit CW show, One Tree Hill. It’s a memorable scene that reflected the complexities beneath the polished surface of Brooke's character, played by the inimitable Sophia Bush.
Brooke Davis was a one-of-a-kind character from the early-aughts who weathered family heartbreak, relationship let-downs, and friendship betrayals with a finesse that was not only aspirational, but so unlike the teen characters at the time. When One Tree Hill premiered in 2003, the television was teeming with shows highlighting angsty, impatient, 15 going on 25 teenagers. Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., and Gilmore Girls are a handful of beloved standouts from the era. Each had an obvious lack of diversity in both racial and sexual identities, but the stories of small town white teens just trying to figure it out defined the times.
One Tree Hill is notable in that it legitimately attempted to do something different with the stereotypical outlines of cheerleaders, jocks, nerds and bullies who lived in the town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. Here, basketball was life, everybody wanted to get out, and family secrets were town secrets. Characters could be heroic, conflicted, loyal, and disappointing all at the same time, and that was where the show most succeeded. It gave its teens layers hardly found in similar programs, and it’s here that Brooke Davis left her mark.
Peyton Sawyer (played by Hilarie Burton) her moody, anti-conformity, blonde best friend was seemingly created to be the show’s core and moral center, yet it was the raven-haired, raspy voiced go-getter who found her way into the hearts of millions. Brooke's complicated character is a testament to the acting (and directing) chops of Bush, and the skill of those in the writers room who cared enough about Brooke’s character to give her room to grow. "There were scenes that I fought to rewrite and story arcs of hers that I fought to tell, and it was worth it in the end, 'cause it meant something to people," Bush told Bustle in 2018.
Even though Brooke slept with her best friend’s boyfriend, was a bully when she felt insecure, and wasn’t always honest with those she cared about, Brooke grew to be defined by something other than her mistakes. This, even as she literally got in the way of her own happiness, case in point being her overdrawn relationship with heartthrob, Lucas Scott, played by Chad Michael Murray.
What tends to be true for most female characters on television is that so many of their legacies are incomplete or muted without the presence of a love interest. Dawson’s Creek's Joey is saddled with both Pacey and Dawson, Marissa from The O.C. with Ryan and even the rebellious Peyton has Lucas. Brooke has the rare privilege of existing solely on her own and with that being more than enough. When I think of Brooke, I don’t think of the lovers she had and lost, I remember her successes and the effort she took to not only be a better person to others but a kinder friend to herself. Throughout the shows nine seasons it was she who had the most profound and seamless growth and it’s one where she was in control of her space and mind.
There is a growth that Brooke undergoes which sees her not only stronger, but so much more in control of her vulnerability and the ways she would choose to love. A standout scene from season 4, is her breakup with Lucas and the conversation centered around her reasons why. “I love you Lucas, and I probably always will. But we go days without having a meaningful conversation and I used to miss you so much when that happened. But it never seemed like you missed me. And I guess because of it I stopped missing you.” It was a Samantha Jones, “I love me more,” moment and also a deeper look into a girl everyone always read as fun-loving and reckless. She was all that, but she was also the most self-aware person surrounded by immature boys and a very shitty best friend. In short, she was a badass.
As painful as Brooke’s interactions were with Lucas, she didn’t come away from them trusting less or more fearful of love. We saw Brooke's character evolve from a complicated party girl to a confident adult, who used her life lessons to create a brighter future. She found success in the fashion industry with her clothing company, Clothes Over Bros, and became a loving godmother, guardian and eventual mother, despite her fractured relationship with her own parents.
As characters dropped off over the show's nine year run, it became obvious that Brooke was its star. Brooke gave OTH its heart and her role is a legendary one for the pop culture canon.
Long live Brooke Davis.