I took one for the team and went back and watched all six seasons of Dawson’s Creek. I know, not all heroes wear capes. In part, I did it to see how much of a series I actually remembered and whether any of the storylines still stand up today. And ooh boy, was it a wild ride.
Now obviously there are spoilers ahead, but you’ve had 20 years to watch Dawson’s Creek, so let’s get on with it.
First and foremost, the dialogue is as irritating as we all remember. No teenagers, at any point in history, have ever talked like the Dawson’s Creek kids. Even Shakespeare was less wordy. It’s the endless self-analysis that’s totally unrealistic.
“It’s agony. Complete, excruciating agony. It’s like your heart has been ripped out of your chest and stomped on, and you can’t breathe… you don’t want to eat… you can’t function. It’s the most intense pain that you’ll ever feel, and the worst part is, there’s no way to relieve it. It’s unyielding, merciless torture, and you *know* that it’s yours for life.” – Dawson, the absolute sap
Dawson kills me. I feel so sorry for his teachers in the early seasons, even though they’re completely fictional. He’s a know-it-all with a bad attitude and an even worse haircut (what was with that mop?!). He should just get out of the way because Pacey is the underrated king of this show. And deep down I reckon Dawson knows.
“You know, this town is the absolute embodiment of dull. Apart from the occasional sex scandal provided by yours truly, nothing happens here.” – Pacey, absolute king
I somehow forgot how heavy Dawson’s Creek got though. Jack’s coming out wasn’t a simple “I’m gay” and everyone moves on. It was genuine agony – his father couldn’t handle it, he was typecast at school as “the gay kid”, and he spent several seasons coming to terms with his identity. It was a pretty big deal for late nineties/early noughties teen drama.
On top of that, there’s Jen’s battle with alcohol and trying to deal with the trauma of seeing her father have sex with her (very much underage) friend. Plus Andie’s mental health issues and her psychotic episode in which Pacey very calmly coaxes her into accepting help (told you, Pacey is a gem).
But the real breakthrough on this rewatch of Dawson’s Creek is that this show isn’t about Dawson at all. It’s all about Joey. She’s the one who deals with her relationship with her drug-dealing father, actually makes new friends (while Dawson is still desperately clutching to his high school life), tries new things, makes mistakes, actually learns, and in the end, truly knows who she is. It’s her family, her career, and her romances that we’re invested in.
Dawson, meanwhile, is still banging on about Steven Spielberg. So take a seat, mate – Dawson’s Creek is Joey’s show.