Dawson's Creek was created by the hip slasher movie writer Kevin Williamson (Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer), and was based on Williamson's life, and produced by Paul Stupin, Tom Kapinos, Greg Berlanti and Greg Prange, all of whom were virtual newcomers to the television world.
The show focused on childhood friends, Dawson, Pacey and Joey, as they grow up and try to cope with their changing friendships. This "teen soap" quickly became the hippest teen prime-time hangout. And how could it not be? It had good looking teen actors, cool music, great hair, no acne, and, most seemingly important to the teen mind, sex. The series centred around two childhood friends, Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) and Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), who are friends with and in a love triangle with Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson), and the trio's friendship with best friends with Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), and Jack McPhee (Kerr Smith). While the series was addictive and captivating, there was, in my mind, way too much discussion about intercourse, homosexuality and masturbation; too many torrid sexual encounters, both straight and gay, so much so that even the usual unshockable press raised a brow and dropped a jaw along the way.
There is also the unrealistic makeup of the characters. The teens are very hip, very confident, beautiful, incredibly articulate about their feelings, but, on the other hand, their adult counterparts are often seen as dolts, insincere, unsympathetic, and bumbling along the path as the caretakers of these wondrous creatures. Stumbling along and trying to guide the teens as best as possible are Mitch Leery (John Wesley Shipp) Dawson's father, whose death in a car accident in season 5 leaves Dawson questioning his choices; Gale Leery (Mary-Margaret Humes) Dawson's mother; and Emma "Grams" Ryan (Mary Beth Peil) Jen's grandmother (well, everyone's grandmother and anchor). The vocabulary of the teens can be a bit much, so many four-syllable words; for example, in one episode, heard from Dawson, "Is the proposition of monogamy such a Jurassic notion?" How many 15 year olds do you know that speak like that? Add to that the fact that every situation is analyzed so minutely, far more than can be realistically expected between teen to teen, teen to adult and adult to teen.
As we progress from season to season, we watch these teens grow and develop, go their separate ways, come back together again, laugh with each other, fight, cry, share romance and tragedy, and still all in all remain friends. We watch Joey constantly choosing between Dawson and Pacey, and the effects this has on Dawson and Pacey's friendship.
In the last season, we have the five friends leaving the protective shelter of Dawson's Creek to venture out into the world. Dawson moves to California to pursue his lifelong dream of making movies and attending USC's film school. The death of his father alters his plans and Dawson finds himself in Boston, much closer to home. Joey won a scholarship to Worthington College in Boston and is now dealing with a new roommate, Audrey Lidell (Busy Phillips), and a new life without her best friend; Pacey, the rebel of the bunch, does not go the school route, but instead enters the working world, finding a niche for himself as a chef and a new love interest in Joey's college roommate Audrey. Jen and Jack also relocated to Boston, living with Grams. Grams' Sunday night dinners keep the group anchored together and provide stability among the friends. I sat to watch the two hour season finale, which was set five years in the future, after having had debates and conversations and emails and texts about who Joey would finally choose and who the one friend would be to die. It seemed that for the two weeks building up to the finale there was little talk of anything else, "Hi. How are you doing? Who do you think Joey will choose? No way!!". There were betting pools formed, parties being held, phones taken off the hook, and excitement the likes of which is seen only during the Superbowl or perhaps the final night of Survivor.
For those of you who have seen it, were you as surprised as I? Did you guess correctly? I had a split - I picked who died, but the wrong one for Joey's choice, and I'm still not convinced she made the right choice!
Published on December 7th, 2018. Review: Andrea M. Iannuzzi.