Oh, Dawson’s Creek. I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot get enough of it. I own all six seasons on DVD and rewatch them every so often. I’m actually in the middle of the third season right now. Growing up, this show was the only thing that existed Wednesday night at 8′oclock. I could not miss any episode, and there had to be total silence while it was on. Who didn’t automatically start singing along when those credits started rolling, and Paula Cole’s familiar voice came on screen…
The show appeared on the WB network (now the CW) in 1998. I remember sitting in the den at home with my sister watching these two so-called 15-year-olds ramble on with their extensive, unrealistic vocabulary. Mostly filmed in North Carolina and based on the childhood of the creator Kevin Williamson, Dawson’s Creek takes place in the fictional small seaside town of Capeside, Massachusetts. It begins focusing on four characters: Dawson Leery, Joey Potter, Pacey Witter and Jen Lindley. Other important characters are also introduced in later seasons: Jack McPhee, Andie McPhee and Audrey Liddell. The show follows their lives from sophomore year of high school through college and beyond as they experience the trials and tribulations of growing up.
Dawson, a film geek with his head in the clouds, is at first the show’s main protagonist. Played by James Van Der Beek, he is your typical over-dramatic, analytical good guy. He thinks every problem in life can be solved by watching the right Spielberg film. A big shocker, but he eventually figures out that life is not a movie, and you don’t always get the happy ending.
Josephine Potter, played by the one and only Katie Holmes (now married to Tom Cruise with the most adorable baby girl Suri, might I add), is the angry girl next door. She is the epitome of teen angst. Although, who could blame her? Her mother dies from cancer while her father is too busy getting locked up by the police for drug trafficking, leaving her slightly older big sister Bessie to raise her and not to mention her own son Alexander. But it’s okay, because she always has her best friend Dawson to look out for her. Every show has a love story, well this show has the ultimate triangle. At first Dawson and Joey are best friends, but it takes the audience about 2.5 seconds into the first episode to notice Joey’s mega-crush on him. One of my favorite episodes ever is when Joey sings “On My Own” from the famous musical Les Miserables.
(Sorry for the subtitles. This was the best version I could find.) Ok so she’s not a singer, but this is the moment when Dawson really looks at Joey for the first time and sees her as someone more than just a best friend. Joey eventually becomes the show’s main protagonist, as she is the only one who appears in all 128 episodes.
Aah Pacey Witter, the last piece to the love triangle. Played by Joshua Jackson, Pacey is known as the town screw-up, the loser who will never amount to anything. It seems as if he doesn’t care about anything, least of all his grades. And he definitely proves this stereotype right when he has an affair with his sophomore year english teacher. However, the audience eventually gets to know a different, more sensitive and romantic Pacey during his relationships. After Dawson and Joey get together, break up, get back together and then break up again, Pacey and Joey start their own love affair. Growing up, I was a steadfast Dawson fan. I could not believe that Joey would pick Pacey Witter over her soulmate. However now as I re-watch the seasons, I definitely root for Pacey.
Jen Lindley (played by Michelle Williams), the experienced, wild bad girl from New York City sent away from mommy and daddy to live with her grandmother as punishment. Of course the minute she steps foot out of that cab she rocks the creek. One of the main story lines with Jen is her disbelief in god, as it clashes with the highly religious beliefs of her grandmother. As Dawson’s first girlfriend, she and Joey get off to a rocky start, but yes, they eventually become good friends. Sadly, just as Jen rocks the creek when she arrives, she rocks the creek when she leaves. In the very last episode, the show jumps ten years into the future, and Jen is a single mom. Unfortunately, the Capeside crew eventually finds out that she has an abnormal heart condition (cheesy, I know), and she dies. But before she dies, Dawson films her last goodbyes to her daughter. Her speech is so emotional and real, and one of my most favorite moments of the whole series that I had to share it with you all (This is the best version I could find. The speech ends around 3:40.).
Played by Kerr Smith, Jack McPhee moves to Capeside from Rhode Island with his twin sister Andie at the beginning of the second season. Originally cast as a love interest for Joey, he eventually comes out of the closet as Capeside’s one and only teenage homosexual. Throughout the series, Jack learns how to be comfortable in his own skin despite the close-minded views of some of his classmates. He forms a very close friendship with Jen along the way, as they bond over playing the outcast role and take each other in when they have no one else to rely on.
Andrea McPhee, played by Meredith Monroe, is Jack’s twin sister. She is your average uptight, obsessive-compulsive honor student. Of course she would fall for bad boy Pacey Witter. They have an intense, romantic relationship, and she helps turn Pacey around from a class clown to a decent student…until she has her breakdown. As it turns out, the perfectionist doesn’t have it all together. She tries so hard to portray the perfect family image, but in reality, her family is falling apart. After a car accident leaves her older brother dead, her father splits and leaves Jack and Andie to take care of their mentally ill mother. Andie has problems of her own. After she cheats on Pacey during her stay in a mental institution, Andie and Pacey are no more. I have to say though, as much as I love Joey and Pacey as a couple, Andie and Pacey’s relationship is well beyond their years. The way he stands by her when everything around her is falling apart is enough to make anybody melt.
Played by Busy Philipps (Freaks and Geeks), Audrey enters the scene in season 5 as Joey’s college roommate. A pseudo-Jen character, Audrey is party girl living it up spending daddy’s money. She eventually forms a relationship with Joey and dates Pacey.
Dawson’s Creek generated a lot of publicity because critics were concerned about its “racy” (not so racy now) plots, concerning partying, drugs, alcohol, cheating and sex. Even though it was never a huge ratings success among the general public, Dawson’s Creek had a huge following with the younger demographic. It is known for the unrealistic yet intelligent complex dialogue of its characters, yet also it’s realistic portrayal of teenage emotions as they go through the experiences of growing up, such as love, heartbreak and divorce.
I watch this series over and over again because every time I watch it, I learn or see something new. Now that I am older, I find that I can relate a lot more to the story lines and the decisions that the characters make. Even though it is a 90s teen drama, the problems and experiences these characters face will forever remain relevant. Come on Dawson’s fans, what were your favorite episodes and experiences watching this series?