For me, Dawson’s Creek was the right show at the right time. In sixth grade, it’s like a switch was flipped in me: as soon as Titanic came out, I was all about teen romances. My interest set shifted from Little Women and Anne of Green Gables to Jack and Rose, Dawson and Joey, and Felicity and Ben and/or Noel. Basically, the WB took off and I was along for the ride. My favorite of these shows was Dawson’s Creek. I’m not trying to say it was a good show -what am I, Pacey’s crazy girlfriend?* – but it was good enough, and we didn’t have as many channels back then.
Let’s take a look at some of the crazier happenings from the crew in Capeside, Massachusetts. While most of the cast have pretty much stopped working, do you really think Michelle Williams would be such a versatile actress if she hadn’t tried her hand at so many absurd plotlines over the course of the series?
To really get in the mood for this, I suggest playing Paula Cole’s I Don’t Wanna Wait on a loop in the background, or the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack if you still have it, like I do.
– First of all, Dawson and Joey are two teenaged best friends whose parents allow them to sleep in the same bed every weekend, because … Joey doesn’t have the ability to conceive children so they aren’t worried about teen pregancy? Because Dawson and Joey are both gay so there’s no threat of any funny business happening? No. The correct answer is because the parents are dumbasses (Dawson) or dead and imprisoned (Joey).
– Jen Lindley moves to town, having been kicked out of her parents’ place in New York because she is TROUBLE. She lives with her ailing grandfather and Marilla Cuthbert her Pentecostal grandmother. Despite being a big-city troubled teen, she wears demure sundresses from J. Crew.
– Pacey has an affair with a teacher. Despite being a felony-committing vixen, she also wears demure sundresses from J. Crew. After a classmate overhears, the whole town finds out within hours, even though this was the mid-late ’90s and only about half of the people had cell phones or steady internet access.
– Dawson, Pacey, and Joey get Saturday detention, in a Breakfast Club tribute that really rides the line between homage and outright plagiarism.
– Joey and Jen are arch-nemeses because Jen and Dawson are a thing, and Joey loves Dawson secretly. However, they join forces when a high school jock starts a rumor that Joey is expecting his child.
– The power goes out, a serial killer is on the loose, and Dawson’s Creek is blatantly ripping off all of the teen horror flicks that were popular during this time.
– Joey enters a beauty pageant to win a college scholarship. She sings the most embarrassing rendition of On My Own that I can imagine, which is only a little more subtle than dropping an anvil on Dawson’s head with a note attached reading “Joey Loves You.” Oh, and Pacey enters too, and performs a scene from Bravehart complete with kilt and facepaint. Believe it or not, neither of them wins.
– Joey visits her dad in prison to the maudlin strains of Sarah McLachlin (or, as the ballots for Prom Song at my high school said, “Sara McClavanahan”). Meanwhile, Jen’s grandpa dies and Michelle Williams acts circles around everyone else on the show. Joey comes home and kisses Dawson.
– This isn’t exactly a plot point, but everyone wears a lot of flat-font khakis and those sweaters with one large stripe across the front. Actually, that kind of is a plot point. The grunge look had been trying hard to die for several years, but the glittery, pop-y late-90s look hadn’t truly taken hold yet, either. It was a weird time. It was the 90s’ awkward stage.
– The whole crew is celebrating their second go at sophomore year of high school.
– Pacey starts dating the new girl in town, Andi, who turns out to be crazy, in part because of some chemical stuff and in part because one of her brothers died tragically.
– Joey starts dating the new boy in town, Jack (Andi’s surviving brother), who turns out to be gay because Katie Holmes Joey Potter has no gaydar. He poses nude for her art project, and it’s just like Titanic if Rose were actually a gay teen from the 90s and Jack were Katie Holmes. Then Jack writes a poem about another boy for English class and shit gets real. Please note how the Capeside youth constructively deal with their feelings through artistic outlets.
– Dawson’s parents are getting divorced because his mom had an affair with her local news co-anchor. Joey can relate to his family probz because, you know, her dad’s in prison for drug trafficking and her mom died (of breast cancer – remember this).
– Abby, Jen’s badass friend, stirs shit up left and right.
– Abby, Jen’s badass friend, falls off a pier drunk and dies. At the funeral, everyone deals with feelings about things that are totally unrelated to badass Abby’s memory.
– Joey’s dad is released from jail, gets drug-busted again by Pacey’s dad, goes back to jail.
– Andie begins seeing her dead brother and gets sent to a mental health facility in Providence. I almost wrote Provincetown, which would arguably be more fun.
– Dawson makes a football movie featuring Jen (a cheerleader) and Jack (a football player), in what may be a tie-in with Varsity Blues, a James VanDerBeek vehicle that, if memory serves, was like if Friday Night Lights weren’t good.
– New Girl Eve shows up, and she is a mystery.
– Dawson makes a cheap rip-off of the Blair Witch Project.
– Jen and Pacey become a thing, because why not, that combination hasn’t happened yet.
– Andie comes back from being crazy, but has cheated on Pacey. She steals a test because she is very troubled.
– Joey paints a mural, it gets vandalized, Pacey tracks down the perpetrator, Pacey gets assigned to community service for vigilante justice, Pacey mentors the cute little boy from Jerry Maguire. Because seriously, why not at this point.
– Pacey and Joey become a thing, and we see the start of their relationship four different ways. This is a “tribute” to GO because, like Varsity Blues, Dawson’s Creek is really into over-promoting the films that the cast members appear in. I think Go starred Jay Moher, and featured Katie Holmes running around in a convenience store a lot.
– Dawson’s parents get re-married to each other, because if this teen drama needed one thing, it was more Parent Trap.
– Pacey lives on a boat for a while. The show’s writers are just really reaching.
– For like the 15th time, Joey lies and pretends to be rich (SHE’S POOR BECAUSE DEAD MOM DAD IN PRISON), and gets a job.
– Dawson’s mom is pregnant, which is very possible because this is tv, where most teenagers have parents who are in their early 30s.
– Pacey is arrested for being drunk. Go back to your boat, drunk Pacey.
– Everyone graduates. Joey makes the graduation speech (of course). Joey and Dawson kiss (of course).
– Everyone goes to college in Boston, except for Dawson, who starts film school in LA so that he can continue to make poor imitations of everyone else’s movies.
– Just kidding, Dawson lasts like two weeks there then moves to Boston, too.
– Dawson’s baby sister is born (awww!)
– Dawson’s father dies (booo). Dawson deals with feelings.
– An episode poorly imitates Urban Legend, because Joshua Jackson is in Urban Legend. You have to STOP, Kevin Williamson. Just stop.
– Joey sings on stage at a bar because Katie Holmes has neither shame nor pride.
– Joey is mugged, the mugger gets hit by a car, and she stays with him to help. After all, he reminds Joey of her father (wait… what?). She pretty much dares the mugger to kill her multiple times, because she also has neither fear nor common sense. Joey mentions how her mom died of lung cancer. Wait… huh? Maybe her lung cancer made her breast cancer act up? Who even knows. He dies. Joey understands him,
– Joey joins a band called Aggressive Mediocrity, which would make a good new title for the show. Actually, those two words sum up everything at this point: aggressive mediocrity. Aggressive Mediocrity. AGGRESSIVE MEDIOCRITY.
– I’m really sorry, but I stopped watching in season three, and couldn’t even muster the interest to read the episode summaries past this point.
– Apparently Pacey is in LA, and Jack Osbourne is on the show, because nobody is even trying anymore.
– The finale takes us to the “future”: 2008. I should really go back and watch this, because I love when people from the past predict the future. My favorite was in Saved By The Bell where they look 20 years down the line or something. I should probably blog about that. Anyway.
Louisa May Alcott Dawson has created a piece of adolescent fiction very loosely adapted from his real life, in the form of a TV show called The Creek. Everyone’s in Capeside for a wedding, then Jen is all of a sudden dying. She asks Jack to raise her baby for her. Oh yeah – Jen had a baby at some point before 2008, I guess. About half of the characters confess to being the soul mates of the other half of the characters. And that’s it.
I tried to watch an early episode on Netflix, by the way, and they’ve changed the theme song. Poor Paula Cole, not even getting royalties for that. Bet she’s thanking her lucky stars they brought back Lilith Fair, otherwise she’d be screwed.
* When Pacey’s crazy girlfriend left, I decided the show had become ridiculous and quit watching. He started dating Joey and it just felt wrong.