AN ODE TO “DAWSON’S CREEK”:
The date is May 20th, 2014. A newly sixteen-year-old was given a complete series box set based on the assumption that the show’s titular character reminded the gift giver of them. This character wanted to be a filmmaker, adored Steven Spielberg, and made short films in his backyard. Seems like an interesting person to watch develop, right? Fast-forward a few months and it is December 24th. Finally, this kid pops in the pilot, and the adventure begins.
Hello everyone. How are you all doing? It’s been quite the Summer here in 2017, filled with celebrity drama, sub-par releases, and days wished upon to be done over again. It’s familiar to the previous seasons in the past years, however this one is a bit different. On August 2nd, 2017 I finished the series “Dawson’s Creek,” with a two-hour series finale entitled “All Good Things…Must Come to An End.” Cheesy title, right? I know what you are thinking: what is this post? What is “Dawson’s Creek” and why don’t I see a poem of some sort? I wasn’t much of a poet, but love the term “ode,” so I thought I would seize the opportunity. As for the show itself, read on:
“Dawson’s Creek” is essentially a series about teen angst and drama centered around four teenagers that originally aired from January 20th, 1998 to May 14th, 2003. In its span of six seasons, hearts were broken (plenty of times), boyfriends/girlfriends were had and gone, and the topic of sex was discussed many of times to the point of utter exhaustion. I mean, what else are teens to talk about right?
I was never much into this genre of television. Reality TV sucks and soap operas are a laughing stock for a reason. I’m more of the mystery, sci-fi, and drama guy, and I have a fine taste in my shows. “Lost,” “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and “Fringe” are among the ones that plague my list of favorites because of how they don’t take the audience as morons and have wickedly interesting concepts and character development. Sure, I had the occasionally foray into teen problems and struggles; “Smallville” was actually a pretty solid show. However, none have amounted to the sheer audacity of lunacy as did “Dawson’s Creek.”
I’m just going to assume that you all know nothing or very little about “Dawson’s Creek” if you are in my age group (anyone surrounding the age of nineteen). Of all the friends I’ve asked, none have heard of it, which is understandable; it’s before our time. Heck, it came out a few months before I was born. To find someone my age and learn that they have watched this whole series would be an obscene, but magical occurrence. That doesn’t mean that I want people to know about this show; I could care less, though it is always nice to relate on some level with someone on the topic of television, whether obscure or not.
Why I made this post regards closure. Most of the time, I am a loner with shows. I watch them by myself, not by choice but by happenstance. So, like anyone who runs into conflict or opinions about a show, I want to talk about it. Seeing as how I have hardly anyone to share these thoughts with, I thought it would be productive to make a post about it, deterring from my usual uploads. I want to bring you all closer to my perspective of things, outside of film. I know that television isn’t much of a stretch, though it is a different form of media. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the TV show long gone, “Dawson’s Creek.”
BEFORE CONTINUING, I MUST NOTE THAT THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS. SO IF YOU WANT TO TRUDGE THROUGH THIS SHOW, I SUGGEST YOU STOP HERE.
Let’s start with my general opinion: this show is, overall, mediocre. With all the build-up leading to that statement, you’d think I thought otherwise. I mean, why go through writing an experimental post about something that isn’t even good? Well, the same could be said about crappy films; though they are terrible, they make for great analyses. “Dawson’s Creek” isn’t terrible, however it has had many spells of horridness. Primarily after the gang graduated high school and went to college in season five. Boy, was that an awful season…
In the beginning, this series was promising. We center on a boy named Dawson Leery (played by James Van Der Beek), who loves making shorts and wants to be a filmmaker someday. He has friends who support him: his best pal Pacey Witter (portrayed by the great Joshua Jackson) and his friend-soon-to-be-love-interest, Joey Potter (given life by Katie Holmes). All things are going as usual in their small town of Capeside, North Carolina, until a new girl comes onto the scene from New York City named Jen Lindley (inhibited by Michelle Williams).
I related to Dawson. He had the same aspirations as me as well as personality traits. He wasn’t exactly like me, but there were a few things he said that I agreed with personally. James Van Der Beek did a solid job portraying him, and I was entertained by the character as a whole. When it focused on his dream, that’s when the show was at its best. Unfortunately, he only took up a small portion of his own series.
The bottom line that this show pushed for was teen drama. That meant love triangles and plenty of break-up-get-back-togethers. If you know me, you know I have a high enough I.Q. to point out the issues with this series. Centering on teen angst is what drove this story to the ground on many occasions, often causing me to think about continuing. Since I am a completionist and had the complete series box set, I fought through it like a trooper and succeeded in the long run, but that’s beside the point. What I am trying to get at is a show built on cat-and-mouse won’t win out, unless it is “Tom and Jerry.” It’s completely mindless and for the mindless in the overall picture. Plenty of times “Dawson’s Creek” served as the weekly soap; who would end up with whom, and for how long? Eventually everyone had been in a thing with each other, and repetitiveness commenced.
Originally, I wanted to break this down season by season. However, my memory of all 128 episodes has proved to be a little faulty. Typically I watch one episode a day of a discontinued series when I purchase each season, though college has stood in the way of keeping up with “Dawson’s.” I read over a good bit of the older episode synopses to find that I forgot a ton, which clearly goes to show how good my memory is and how memorable this series actually is. Where did this it start to slide? Around the middle to end of season two, roughly when the show’s creator, Kevin Williamson, left as executive producer (it always happens this way).
The first two seasons focused on a few particular things: growing up and finding love. It was a theme that rang out for the rest of the series, but didn’t get too commercial until after the second season. Jen was the issue in season one that caused the rift amongst friends. After that, going into the season two, it was a tug-and-pull between Dawson and Joey, while mixing in a few new characters. Since then, it’s been a will-they-won’t-they fiasco of Dawson and Joey, though after a while that concept fizzled out, only to be brought up again when the writers had nothing to do for conflict.
Speaking of “nothing to do for conflict,” the writers of this special show have had an interesting track record of how to push their small concept along the beaten path. The first one that caught me off guard was making Jack McPhee (Kerr Smith), a newcomer to the show, gay. He came on to stir up trouble between Dawson and Joey, and his coming out felt like an instant cop-out for the writers who had no idea how to settle that situation. Williamson went on to say that he wanted a gay character on his show, but I don’t buy it.
Making Jack gay was simply the first construed step on this journey of teenagers finding themselves. Within each relationship formed and crumbled, all had some sort of issue that seemed of divine (written) power than of the characters themselves. Certain examples include Pacey and Joey’s split in the fourth season, which eventually led to their getting back together. Pacey’s reason for breaking it off with Joey was because he felt like a nobody and she had everything. He didn’t seem to love her, but that all turned around on one sunny afternoon later in the sixth season. The only altered variable was that Pacey had a stable job, so I guess having something makes up for love?
There are plenty of other nonsensical occurrences that took place in this series, whether it was Andie (Meredith Monroe), Jack’s sister, all of a sudden having mental problems or Jen in the final act of the show falling to the axe of the writers when she apparently accumulated a “heart condition she’s had for a long time” (sure, because it’s definitely been brought up…NOT). However, none of these have amounted to two circumstances, both long-term and short-term, that unfolded during the latter half of the series…
1. Mitch’s Death by Ice-Cream
Season five gave the utter realization that this show was going to pot. It could barely hold up its weight during the fourth year, though everything came crashing down in the fifth. What happened? Well, Dawson’s father, Mitch Leery (John Wesley Shipp), was killed in a car accident…because of ice-cream. Wait, what? How does that make sense? Apparently, the writers thought it would be a nice way out if Mitch was driving, listening to “Drift Away” on the radio, and munching down on an ice-cream cone, only to have it drop in the passenger’s side and take his eyes off the road to reach for it. Why!? I’ve heard of the five second rule, but ice-cream absorbs everything. Who knows what was on the floor of his car. What is the point of picking it up to eat it? I guess his life, which resulted in one of the most hilarious scenes of the show since the Dawson cry. (To see the video in full, click here).
I didn’t think the writers had the balls to kill Mitch off. Though I was impressed, I couldn’t be more furious as to the reasoning of it. “Capeside Revisited” (season five, episode three) was a terrible endeavor to witness, but what followed had to be the saddest hour of the show’s history. The reason why Mitch’s death proved to be an infamous nonsensical moment was because of the ice-cream drop. His fatality was predictable by means of it being placed at the end of the episode, but what followed in the next week shook up the show in good and bad ways. Surprisingly, “The Long Goodbye” (season five, episode four) was a fantastic episode. It was filled with gripping tension and heartfelt moments of grief that made me cry as a viewer. Seriously guys, this was a sobbing hour. Mitch was a good character by feeling alone. Wesley Shipp gave a good life to the figure and to have him be put on display as an apparition of the past made things tough to swallow. Not only was “The Long Goodbye” one of the best episodes of the series (if not THE best), but it was also the last good episode of the series, until the final outing.
2. Joey’s Confusing Love Life
I mentioned before how the show shifted from being about Dawson to going in a “new” direction. That direction resided in Joey Potter. Joey’s love life is the long-term nonsensical occurrence of this show. She has been when more onscreen guys than any of the female leads (or Jack), and on top of that each of them got a spotlight. What made this nonsensical was when I compared it to the Joey of season one. She was innocent, feisty, and smart. Though she constantly put Dawson at arm’s distance, she loved him and was jealous of Jen’s relationship with the character. Everything changed when her and Dawson got together and she realized that her dream boy wasn’t everything she hoped for. At least I assume. It’s difficult to remember, but I’m pretty sure a lot of the initial break-up had to do with her getting with Jack.
Since the first break-up, Joey became a loose canon, going from one boy to the next. The writers tried to keep her personality intact, and while some parts remained the same, most changed within a blink of the eye. Call it growing up, but I’m pretty sure that we are supposed to take at least a few steps forward when learning a lesson, right? Joey has had many pitfalls. She dated Jack, moved on to Dawson, left him for Pacey, and then sunk into a sea of random, newbies that flashed by every now and then throughout the rest of the show (the worst of which was a rocker named Charlie [Chad Michael Murray], who wouldn’t go away no matter how long I prayed). I lost admiration for her, not only because she gave up her virginity to Pacey but because she dated people willy-nilly while giving the same hum-drum speech of “I need to stop seeing people” or “I need to find someone who is right for me.” Yeah right lady, you keep trying. Who knows how long you’ll stick with Pacey after we left you in the final minutes of the show.
There aren’t many themes to be discussed when it comes to the years after season two. To be honest, the show is all about growing up and finding love. It’s cheesy, yes, but it could be done right if the writing was good. Unfortunately, this series set themselves up for failure by relying on the typical soap-opera cliches and tropes. I didn’t know who the characters were by the end of the series. They all had changed morals, and while that may seem like a part of life, it certainly seems like a betrayal of who the characters are. Jen is a prime example, as she shifted into many roles, at first being a broken, main character to now a mellowed out, annoying support. This wasn’t the same ragtag group I started with, but admittedly they were the same pose when the finale showed up.
“Joey Potter and the Capeside Redemption” (season six, episode twenty-two), followed by “All Good Things…Come to an End” (season six, episodes twenty-three and twenty-four) were the best episodes of season six, hands down. Not only did they return to form, but finally brought out the best of this show: Dawson’s passion. I got to see him make his Indie film and then jump forward five years to see his creation in a meta way. Why I didn’t predict the show to take a meta route, with Dawson creating WB show “Creek Days” based on his life, is beyond me; it was a bit too obvious not to see coming.
The series finale of “Dawson’s Creek,” which saw the return of Kevin Williamson in writing credits, was a flawed, but bittersweet finisher. Though I thought that “Joey Potter and the Capeside Redemption” offered too much closure to move on to another episode, I was fairly entertained with what came of the finale. It put together two episodes in one, created an almost two-hour special filled with heartache and moments of “moving on.” It’s the typical stuff you find at the end of every show, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t welcomed. As I mentioned before, Jen got a heart condition which caused her to die in the third act of the finale. It was random and even made me laugh, but I will admit that it led me to tear up when she was in her final moments. I mean, they brought up the good episodes in her passing for Pete sakes! Why not?
Jen’s death was a predictable plot device to move all the characters forward. I knew why it was used, and while I was angry it was used this way, I put my emotions to rest on grounds that this show is not perfect. Joey had to settle on someone, and Jen had to die in order for her to make a decision. It is sick and twisted, but the writers apparently had to do it. What did I feel about her choice? Discomfort. I wanted her to pick Dawson; call it a cliche, but they’ve built enough foundation for it to happen. Plus, the whole idea of them being “soul mates” has been flaunted around like a new dress on a woman. But in the end, she chose Pacey. She loves both of the boys, but for some reason she chose Pacey. It may have been out of pity, but I wouldn’t know for sure. Pacey is a good guy and all (and was lately focused on a heck of a lot more than Dawson), but I just couldn’t see it no matter how much the writers pushed it. The real question is if she will stick with him outside of the episodes that were produced. For all we know, she could break it off with him again and head for Dawson.
Kevin Williamson expressed in an interview that everyone has more than one soul mate. Joey’s soul mate was apparently Dawson and Pacey at the same time. When I think of soul mate, I think of someone I’m sharing the rest of my life with, and while you can include close friends in that, it just lessens the flavor of the term. In my opinion, if Dawson really was Joey’s soul mate, she should have been with him. Joey didn’t even call Pacey her soul mate (she didn’t really call him anything but Pacey), so the overall meaning behind it is a bit shallow for my tastes.
“Dawson’s Creek,” while heavily flawed, was a somewhat entertaining show. I liked poking fun at it and witnessing some terrible decisions towards the last half of the series. There are good episodes to this show, mind you. On top of that, the characters are enough to keep tuning in (for the most part). While I have considered watching this to be a chore at times, there’s no denying that I had an interesting experience. Heck, I made the longest post on my site because of it. Would I recommend this to my friends? No, unless they want to revel with me in the story of Capeside and its inhabitants. As with any show I take over a year to finish, I grow attached because it becomes apart of my daily routine, so it makes sense that letting “Dawson’s Creek” go is a bit sad. I’ve enjoyed complaining about the newest episode I’ve seen and taking part in the lives of these characters, no matter how one-sided the writing is. Thanks “Dawson’s Creek” for making a…different watching experience; and many blessings to you all for actually reading the entirety of this (unless you skimmed or skipped down to this paragraph).
Gone, but never forgotten. Just like this scene.