When iHeartMedia announced in June that actresses Hilarie Burton Morgan, Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz were working on a podcast called “Drama Queens” about their time on the teen show “One Tree Hill,” the CW Millennials – 20 and The 30-year-old who grew up on a TV diet largely made up of shows on The CW, a network founded in the early 2000s for teens and young adults — lit up.

Within days, a preview of the podcast with its theme song, composed and sung by Ms. Lenz, was at the top of the Spotify and Apple charts. It was clear that even though the series premiered two decades ago and ended nearly a decade ago, there was still interest – if not for the series itself, then certainly for the three women who anchored it for many years.

“What I’ve learned about the fans is that they don’t necessarily even care about the show anymore,” Ms. Burton Morgan, 39, said in an interview. “They like people involved, so whether it’s charity I’m doing here in Rhinebeck, New York, or whether it’s my book or whether it’s some other side hustle, they support it like it’s their thing. favourite.”

The idea for the podcast, which came from Mrs. Bush, was similar to other rewatch podcasts: the three women would watch episodes and give a behind-the-scenes look at how they came to be. Each woman admitted to having seen only part of the series more than ten years ago, so this would be the first time they would watch the series in its entirety. They would also bring in co-stars to talk about their characters and their experiences.

For fans, the podcast was a pleasant surprise.

In 2017, the women were among a group of cast and crew members who wrote a letter about the harassment they faced on the set of “One Tree Hill” from its showrunner, Mark Schwahn. Mr. Schwahn has not publicly responded to the accusations.

The experience of working on “One Tree Hill,” which the women described as traumatic, signaled to fans that the show would never return.

While Ms. Lenz and Ms. Burton will be guest stars on an upcoming episode of “Good Sam,” the new CBS show, Ms. Bush anchors, the women say they still feel conflicted about a reboot of “ One Tree Hill”. A podcast, however, allowed them to revisit the series at their leisure.

“What if just me and the girls sat down together to hear some of this conflict to heal some of these past hurts and traumas?” Mrs. Bush, 39, spoke about the creation of the podcast. “What if the OG girls got together and got our show back, and by doing this together, changed a power dynamic and took our power back and invited all of our friends and co-stars to come with us while we do this?”

On “Drama Queens,” the hosts openly talk about the challenges they faced, including the impossible beauty standards they were expected to uphold, being young and mostly inexperienced in show business, being hypersexualized, with control limited on their character’s fate and being pitied against each other on and off set.

“I felt bullied,” Ms. Lenz said. “I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone because the power dynamics of the show were constantly telling me and, from what I understand of Hilarie and Sophia also telling them, ‘No one does.’ love, no one trusts you.'” Her sentiments were echoed by Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Burton Morgan. All three were never fully able to express these feelings when they were on the show, but with age and experience they are now able to talk about them.

“Having a daughter was a game-changer for me,” Ms Burton Morgan said. “Things that I was ready to put up with, to put up with on my own, that I was no longer ready to put up with because of her.”

In some ways, the timing of “Drama Queens” was ideal. During the pandemic, many people looked back at what they loved. Looking back to the past by rewatching shows or having the ability to watch them now while listening to podcasts about those series became a common way of coping because of the comfort and familiarity it provided.

In addition to dissecting the podcast on TikTok and Instagram each week, “One Tree Hill” fans post about each episode on Facebook, Reddit and other online communities that have remained active in the nine years since the end of the show.

When people are afraid of the future, they look to the past for comfort, said Clay Routledge, a business professor at North Dakota State University who has studied human motivation and nostalgia for more than 20 years.

“Nostalgia helps comfort people when they’re stressed, anxious, frayed, or lonely,” he said. “Engaging in those kinds of nostalgic activities is hugely beneficial. If it’s watching ‘One Tree Hill’, maybe it makes you feel good when you watch it, it makes you happy, it makes you laugh. It’s comforting. It brings you back and helps you connect with old memories.

In 2006, when the WB and UPN networks closed and the CW appeared, “One Tree Hill”, as well as “Gilmore Girls”, “Supernatural”, “Girlfriends”, “Veronica Mars”, “America’s Next Top Model” and “Everybody Hates Chris” were postponed to appeal to younger audiences.

The combination of these shows with the creation of “The Vampire Diaries”, “Gossip Girl” and “90210” made the network popular with teens and young adults drawn to drama. Change could once again be on the horizon for The CW, as earlier this month The Wall Street Journal reported that ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia were considering selling the network.

When “One Tree Hill” premiered on the WB in 2003, it was billed as a show about two half-brothers, Lucas and Nathan Scott, played by Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty, who had the same father and mothers. different in a small north. City of Carolina. The brothers went to the same high school but moved in different social circles. A shared love of basketball and a common dislike of their father brought them and their friends together.

But the most endearing characters, for many viewers, were Peyton (Ms. Burton Morgan), Brooke (Ms. Bush) and Haley (Ms. Lenz) – teenage girls navigating high school in the early 2000s. Their stories dealt with self-esteem self-esteem and self-confidence, drugs, loneliness, grief, teenage pregnancy (a New York Times columnist once called the show “a refusal to expose the dark consequences of premature motherhood”) and complicated family and romantic relationships. . At its peak, “One Tree Hill” averaged 4.3 million viewers, and unsurprisingly, a significant portion were young women.

Ms. Bush said actresses, despite their popularity, had to fight for the development and growth of their characters.

“We don’t lose sight that the boys had completely formed characters with parents and none of the girls on our show had parents,” she said. “We were kind of treated like the early 2000s character versions of little dogs and purses. We were props for the boys.

“One Tree Hill” wasn’t perfect, and it certainly lacked a diverse cast — issues that Ms. Burton Morgan, Ms. Bush, and Ms. Lenz face on the podcast. In its most absurd form, a dog ate a human heart, a stalker pretended to be a character’s brother, and a nanny tried to seduce a man before kidnapping that same man’s child. And “Drama Queens” doesn’t shy away from cringe-worthy moments, which makes it all the more delightful.

“It wasn’t ‘Riverdale’ enhanced,” Mrs. Bush said. “It wasn’t about werewolves or vampires. It was just families. And you’ve seen children struggle with abandonment, privilege, and poverty, and when introduced to potential sexual intimacy.

Watching Haley, Brooke and Peyton navigate the ups and downs of female friendship, marriage and motherhood was certainly entertaining, but also hopeful. After each fight, the characters find a way to get back together.

Hearing the actresses themselves talk about navigating adulthood while remaining friends in real life is heartwarming, and a touching reminder that behind these characters were people who grew up in the industry together.

“The girls, in particular, were really looking for genuine, positive female friendships,” Ms. Lenz said. “It was the right place at the right time with the right combination of grounded authenticity and positivity and female friendships.”

Ms. Lenz said that during the show she was part of a “control group, and that kept her from bonding with her castmates as much as she would have liked. The podcast gave her the chance to make up for some of those missed moments and got her thinking about what she can teach her own daughter about female friendship.

“I can now have Take 2 on these female friendships and learn to trust and let my guard down and be vulnerable, and that’s only good for my daughter because I’m learning things that I can pass on to her,” she said. .

Getting together for the podcast also reminded the actresses how much they mean to loyal viewers.

“The memo I got over and over again was how replaceable I was,” Ms Burton Morgan said in tears. “What’s been really humbling is that after getting that message, for that fan base to show up for a podcast 18 years later and tell you you’re not replaceable, that’s really nice. “