Dawson’s Creek’s Romances: An Examination, Part 1

Even though I am a straight male, I admit I did partake in some of the WB’s programming growing up in the ’90s. No, I wasn’t one of those cool kids who watched Buffy; rather, I went for the feels, as the today’s kids say. I went for Dawson’s Creek.

I think the main attraction for me was Pacey, played by Joshua Jackson. Of course, he wasn’t Pacey Witter to me; he was Charlie Conway, the steely leader of the Mighty Ducks. Now, several years later, Jackson was inhabiting a different kind of role. You just know Charlie Conway would have had more moral fiber than Pacey when presented with sleeping with his teacher, as Pacey did in Season 1 of the Creek. Or, he at least would have called Coach Bombay and asked for his advice before proceeding.

All this is to say, I wasn’t exactly in it for the leading ladies. Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams were cute, and seemed accessible, but let’s just say, Tiffany Amber Thiessen they were not.

Of course, this didn’t matter. As a youngster I was intrigued with these characters, whose problems seemed only slightly more mature than my own at the time. Their Capeside setting was beautiful, their vocabulary impeccable, and so my mom and I found a weekly show to bond over. (Okay, we had several shows every week, including both ER and Chicago Hope. Yeah, we watched both.)

The Creek has begun playing in syndication on some channel called Pop, and I started rewatching it over Christmas break. The relationship drama is faster and more furious than I remember!  Currently, I’m halfway through Season 2. Let’s take a look at where each pairing stands, and reassess where everyone is at a later date.

Dawson and Jen: It made sense to pair these two right out of the gate. The ostensible star of the show can’t see what right in front of him (Joey) and instead falls for the pretty blonde who is fresh off the boat from New York City. Of course he’s enchanted with the party girl who can surely teach him in the ways of love.

But they sure ended pretty quick. Hold on to that notion because it’s a huge theme for this show. Jen never knows what she wants, and Dawson, despite having grand visions for everything in his life, is in way over his head. Jen dates other people, and even sleeps with douchey, smarmy Chris Wolfe, but tailspins because she wants Dawson … or does she? She’s supposed to know better because of her experiences in New York, which far outweigh that of the collective denizens that  makeups Dawson’s inner circle. Still, she stumbles. Her friend Abby is a lightning rod, pulling into darker and darker places, and Jen should know better. But she never seems to figure it out. She is only a high school sophomore, so maybe she deserves a some slack.

Dawson would be a great moral anchor for Jen, and she genuinely cares for him. They would be a great match currently. They simply got together at the wrong time.

Dawson and Joey: WTH? The reason why these supposed soulmates didn’t last long is because Dawson made Joey’s interest in art feel inferior to his film ambitions, and Joey is nothing if not insecure — that’s another big theme with all of the characters except Dawson — so she pushed him away because she has to find herself. Oh brother,  Joey. You had 16 years to find yourself while Dawson wasn’t interested in you. Get it together … and don’t fall for Jack.

Jack and Joey: God dammit.

I remember liking Jack a ton back in the day, and I’m sure I’ll come back around, but his moving in on Joey was inexcusable. And he was so cavalier about it. At least he can take a punch. We’re supposed to feel sorry for him because of his family troubles, and he can’t properly communicate his feelings worth a damn. Whatever. He’s brazen, which is good or bad, depending on how you look at it.

Like Jen, Joey doesn’t know what she wants. But you can’t have a teen drama where everyone  is single, so I get it.

Pacey and Andie: Finally, here’s something that makes sense, even if it didn’t in the beginning. Pacey is charismatic, willing to go the extra mile for anything unrelated to schoolwork. He brings out the best in Andie, because Andie is damaged and mostly afraid to step outside her emotional fortress in the morning. Andie needs Pacey, even if she thinks she doesn’t. Pacey is channeling his inner Charlie Conway, good guy persona here, and should be commended for always fighting for her. Remember, ducks fly together!

On the other side of the coin, Pacey is terribly insecure, using his humor to mask his own emotional troubles. He can be reckless, and is unpredictable. Andie is like Dawson, in the sense that she is a Goody Two Shoes, and can help Pacey recognize his potential — in school and life — something he does when he has a heartbreaking confessional with his drunk dad in the episode “Uncharted Waters.”

Mitch and Gail: The parents.

How are they not divorced yet? Dawson does put an unfair weight on Mitch’s brawny shoulders, so he’s supposed to be strong enough to carry it. But he’s not. He’s a man who can’t get over his wife messing around. Which is fine — obviously — but don’t continue to punish Gail for it. That’s not helping anyone. At least he’s out of the house now, in a loft. A real bro pad, if you will. But the writing’s on the wall for Dawson’s parents. Mitch needs to get in his car and drive away.

On second thought, knowing his fate, maybe he should just stay inside his loft.

BTW, Mitch has a short-cropped hair, a noticeably muscular frame, and the eyes of someone who can equally care for a woman and throw her across the room for another transgression. He looks like a ’90s Cinemax soft-core porn actor. You know I’m not wrong.

We’ll pick this up when I finish Season 2.




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