One Tree Hill Fans Aren't Buying Hilarie Burton's Reason For Stepping Back From the Drama Queens Podcast

Why is Hilarie Burton stepping back from iHeartRadio’s Drama Queens podcast? Many One Tree Hill fans don’t think the DQ podcast co-hosts are being entirely truthful about the reason behind her departure.

On July 7, former costars Bethany Joy Lenz, Sophia Bush, and Burton revealed that they are bringing in a “new queen” as they begin recapping seasons seven through nine of their hit teen series, which ran on the CW from 2003-2012. Burton’s character, Peyton Sawyer, no longer appears on One Tree Hill after season six, so an exit—or, at least, a step back—makes sense. From here on out, Bush and Lenz will be joined by actor Robert Buckley, who joined the series in season seven as sports agent Clay Evans in 2009.

“We have reached the end of my behind-the-scenes experience on the show, and so I really started to question what I brought to this, but also how we keep that storytelling alive and important,” Burton explained in the latest podcast episode. “And so as we head into seasons seven through nine, it was important that we introduced a new queen who could take over for me.”

While Burton, who also serves as an executive producer on the podcast, plans to “pop in here and there,” her exit signals the end of an era for listeners, who’ve been tuning into the trio’s recaps since June 2021. Even so, many fans have been bracing themselves for this announcement for months—and not just because of Burton’s exit after the season six finale, titled, “Remember Me as a Time of Day.”

Back in March, fans noticed that Burton and Lenz did not follow each other on Instagram, despite both following Bush. At the time, many began to suspect a feud between the cohosts over memoir cover art, based on Burton’s cryptic social media post about “imitation.” Meanwhile, Deuxmoi shared anonymous claims that Bush and Burton clashed with Lenz over her political opinions, particularly regarding LGBTQ+ rights. None of the women have commented on the rumors.

With this latest announcement, many Drama Queens fans believe Burton’s soft exit has more to do with Lenz than her character’s story arc—and they’re not happy about it. “I cannot believe they made us relive Peyton Sawyer leaving the show for a second time in real life,” one fan said of the announcement in a TikTok video, which has over 48,000 views and 128 comments.

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According to multiple fans in the video’s comment section, Burton had previously expressed excitement over the idea of watching the seasons she didn’t film. “Over the course of the 6 seasons she would say things like ‘I can’t wait til we get those seasons,’” one fan claims. “I had heard there was beef between her and [Bethany Joy Lenz] irl so my guess is it’s because of that.”

Another wrote, “the Joy Lenz beef runs DEEP!”

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