If the word “suck” didn’t exist, Dawson’s Creek would have created it.
And I can say this because I’ve watched from the beginning. Every single, excruciating, soulmate-overdosing second. I’ve watched. I’ve taped. I’ve written fanfiction. I can say this, you see, because I am a Dawson’s Creek fan.
As the series is going into its final season (praise all the higher powers), I look not so fondly back on the seasons that were. Don’t get me wrong, there have been high points: Pacey and Tamara, though wrong and illegal, were hot. Sophomore Pacey, despite his bad Caesar haircut, won the hearts of women everywhere.
Joey, in Season One, was sassy and pining. Half the girls in the viewing audience related to her. How many of us have loved from afar, never being noticed by the object of our affections, made even worse when the boy of our dreams is our best friend and as oblivious as the day is long? That was Joey. And that was so many of us, so Joey was cool.
In the beginning, Jen was nothing more than a slut made to impede Joey’s progress to get to Dawson. We reviled Jen much the way many reviled Kelly Taylor in the heyday of the Brenda/Kelly/Dylan triangle of 90210. Jen wanted what Joey wanted and that made her bad.
Which brings us to the object of said womanly affections – Dawson. Why do shows insist on having their lead characters be the most boring, whiny, petulant and over-praised characters? (Yeah, I have Buffy issues, what of it?) Dawson has nothing endearing about him. He’s self-absorbed, self-indulgent and he’s got delusions of grandeur, which unfortunately, the show continues to perpetrate.
So Season One was bad. But bad with potential.
Season Two came along and it all went downhill. Joey got her wish and got Dawson. Of course, the Dawson she got wasn’t the Dawson she’d been building up in her head (yes, you may insert any noggin-themed jokes here), so she was unhappy. And Dawson became more of a tool than usual because he added condescending to his repertoire of characteristics.
Then they shuttled Jen off to be even more bad and whorish – threesomes (which Dawson saves her from), implied lesbianism (which Abby’s death put a kibosh on), and religious hypocrites (which Jack’s homosexuality freed her from) – and sadly began to occupy her “second string” position, taking a backseat to the ballad of Dawson and Joey. Which, if you look at the series, is typical of Dawson’s Creek. After all, why focus on anyone with an actually interesting storyline?
And Pacey. Oh boy. I’ll admit. I’m torn here. Because the Pacey of Season Two is the Perfect Boyfriend. He does everything right, or at least says everything right when he screws up. But you see, he’s the perfect boyfriend… to Andie. Andie, who TPTB decided could be his banter buddy and alleviate the need to have him hang around Dawson and Joey. Andie who squeals and is Overly. Excited. About. Everything. Andie, who, I must admit, I hate with the fiery passion of a billion suns.
Then there’s Jack, Andie’s brother. No one cares about Jack. Kerr wasn’t hot yet. Jack was just a prop to act as a distraction between Dawson and Joey, because they couldn’t break up because Dawson was a jerk (see aforementioned praising). Until, you see, Kevin Williamson decided to make Jack gay. It was controversial! It was real! It was completely out of character! And, also, completely unnecessary, given that Dawson is the gayest character of all.
Season Two is forgettable save for a few moments: Dawson face down in his birthday cake, Pacey’s amazing handling of Andie’s breakdown, and Joey telling Dawson she never wants to see him again.
Sadly, that wasn’t what happened. But it did set us up for what was, by far, the best season of Dawson’s Creek ever. Yes, Season Three sucked, but it also had the ballad of Pacey and Joey.
Let me just step out of the world of make-believe (yes, these are fictional characters!) for a moment and say something about Season Three. Joshua Jackson did an amazing job. He did well in Season Two, but this year you saw his longing. You saw every emotion Pacey went through in Jackson’s eyes. He’s always managed to put a little extra into his role, giving Pacey a gusto that most of the other characters lack, but he really outdid himself in this year and, for that, I blame him completely for destroying the lives of previously non-fan people who he sucked in with his boyish charm, his eyes and, well, the fact that he’s imminently fuckable.
Okay, back to the Creek.
Season Three brought us Eve. Who? Exactly. The reason that the first five episodes of Season Three were never shown in reruns is because they sucked harder than a black hole. Eve was skanky, badly played and, for some unknown reason, had a serious thing for Dawson. I’ve heard rumors that the show’s writers, etc. insist that she gave him a blowjob on the boat, but the thought of that is just too disgusting to contemplate so we’re pretending it never happened. Much like any sex that was reported to happen between Pacey and Andie.
But the beginning of Season Three did give us a glimmer of the Pacey/Joey romance, starting off with an admission of friendship that was sadly lacking from Season Two. There were stops along the way, like Joey and AJ, a pairing I’ve yet to find someone adequately capable of explaining; Jen and Henry, a pairing that was both disgusting and sad; Jack and Ethan, which was the first to require the boy/boy kiss of dullness (which I always thought was impossible); Dawson and Nikki, which actually could have been kind of cool but the show dropped the ball (quelle shock); and Jen and Pacey, in which they pretended they did not have chemistry, but were obviously very badly mistaken.
But mostly the season was about Pacey falling head over heels for Joey. Falling hard and painfully, crashing into a relationship he has no clue how to deal with and isn’t sure she wants. It gave us EvilDawson! And it was beautiful. Admittedly, it could have showed us how Joey felt about the whole thing (the only sure thing we know? She likes being hoisted onto counters by Pacey and really, who can blame her?), but that couldn’t be done without enflaming the few Dawson/Joey fans out there (yes! They exist. I know. I don’t get it either). We could have had much more between the Joey kissing Pacey and Dawson finding out (as much as I love the sacred counter hoisting, there could have been So. Much. More.). And, in the end, Joey could have made a fucking choice, instead of being “allowed” to go to Pacey by Dawson, especially given that Her. Choice. Changed. Everything.
[Amy: Also, Season Three gave us a scene that should have NEVER been permanently recorded: Dawson breaking down on the dock when Joey runs off to be with Pacey. The boy cannot cry. It’s, like, one of the most hideous things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m scarred, really. Strangely enough, the producers weren’t as wounded, because we got another crying scene a few years later. Bastards.]
Season Four started out with a yawn and continued to get yawn-ier. We were hit over the head with such subtle clues as to the end of Pacey/Joey like his boat “True Love” sinking. I… what? I don’t get it. They never had real fights; they constantly fought about his Dawson insecurities and her Dawson fixation. They had so much they could have made the relationship about, but instead it was all about Dawson.
And Joey was alone on a boat with Pacey for three months and, according to the show, they didn’t do anything but kiss. ANYTHING. For THREE MONTHS.
I’ve heard of suspending disbelief, but come on!!!
Season Four had boring characters (Gretchen), boring plotlines (Gale is having a baby because Dawson won’t allow her to have an abortion), cute sidelines (Grams gets a boyfriend), cast members barely there because they’re trying to have real careers (Michelle Williams filming Me Without You, Joshua Jackson filming Lone Star State of Mind), and out of nowhere break-ups and blow-ups because everything that happened of consequence happened on the TheWB.com Dawson’s Creek “Dawson’s desktop” website.
The desktop, for those who’ve had the good fortune of never seeing it, is basically set up as the journal of Dawson, although season four did introduce the journals of the rest of the gang as well. Through emails, journal entries, documents found in the recycle bin, and other exciting aspects of each character’s psyche and development. Which would be a fine tool for embellishing on stories, adding depth to the constrictions of network television.
Instead, however, the writers used it to fill in gaps, as if assuming every single person watching the show rushed to the desktop every week, trying to find out what was going on in the DC world while the show wasn’t on. They broke stories there, explained things there that NEEDED to be on the show. For example, Pacey’s breakdown at the “Anti-Prom” made no sense – his insecurities, his blaming the problems in his and Joey’s relationship on himself (as opposed to on her, where they mostly belonged – unless you were familiar with the desktops, where Pacey revealed that he was having problems. On the show? You pretty much saw nothing, other than that he was secretly relieved when Joey couldn’t afford to go to Worthington.
It also had dropped storylines. Jen’s dad? Screwing the babysitter? Yeah, whatever. That’s why I run out and become a whore and do drugs. Jack adjusting to having a boyfriend? Whatever. All we got was the big, gay carwash of clothed men. And, much like the carwash, it managed to make Pacey and Joey finally having sex boring. Her ad-libbed endearments were over the top and completely out of character and their morning after absolutely unbelievable. Pacey’s first woman was 20 years his senior. The dude would KNOW if Joey had the big O. Joey just needs to get over herself.
Which brings us to “Coda,” the season finale. I cannot discuss this because it made no fucking sense. Joey’s afraid of being alone and being left by her “best friend” who she’s spent no time with in the past two seasons? So, she kisses him? I cannot “whatever” enough.
And remember how I said we all identified with Joey? Yeah, season four? We began to hate her. She no longer had any kind of individual thought – the long-standing joke of Dawson’s sucking away Joey’s spine was particularly relevant this season. She spent her time with Pacey worrying what Dawson would think – telling him in the first episode after coming back from her summer away that she was still a virgin, as if he had ANY right to know, talking to Pacey, her boyfriend, about her concerns with Dawson dating Gretchen, lying to Dawson about sleeping with Pacey… The list of her transgressions – not all of them dealing with Pacey, honest – goes on and on. In fact, one of the biggest outcries of the entire season was when she refused to take any kind of financial aid loans but was willing to sell her soul to Dawson for $15,000.
Season Five. Season Five has Audrey. Who is clever and funny. Who is sexy and likes boys. Who is wild and crazy. Who would be good paired with anyone on the cast because she’s fun! But who has no chemistry whatsoever with the one guy they pair her with.
Mind you, Josh is hot. Busy is hot. Together? Not so much, no.
[Amy: Oh, but that first kiss? Where Pacey was helping Audrey run through her lines and she ends up straddling him on the bed? And then they just got for it? Fuck, that was hot. I might have, uhm, rewound a few times.]
Other disturbing developments of Season Five:
- Dawson! With his shirt off! Soiling Jen! Having random sex! It is SO wrong.
- Joey being hit on by her creepy professor and then not doing the deed! Being hit on by a Crispin Glover look-alike! Being forced to pretend that she’d go for the guy who fucked over her friend and have him be only the second guy she’s ever slept with!
- Jen dating Dawson, and not having a girlie-affair with Nora! Not having a fling with Audrey! Getting less action than her grandmother! And agreeing to go see her parents (whom she hates) because Dawson told her so!
- Jack! Being boring! (Okay, no change there.)
They had secondary characters that served no purpose. The film guy that Dawson worked for – like he would have even listened to Dawson’s tirade, much less put up with his attitude. Oliver, who was there solely to serve as Dawson’s ego boost. They wasted Doug and Bessie in one scene each the entire season (which in no way, shape or form contained the hot, torrid love affair that we all know they’re hav… oh wait. Sorry.)
Then there were cool secondary characters they did nothing with – they mentioned Pacey’s boycrush on his boss Danny several times, yet they never had sex! They made Sherilyn Fenn unsexy! They had implausible plotlines such as insisting on trying to make us believe that A) Chad Michael Murray is anything but a bad actor with good abs and a dead animal on his head and B) Joey’s enough to inspire anyone to be a “better man.” They let Joey sing. A lot. And acted like she was good.
Another thing high on the ridiculously uncharacteristic scale: Joey, the most insanely jealous and unreasonable woman on the show was PERFECTLY FINE with her roommate dating her ex-boyfriend. Which was actually easy, since they just pretended that Pacey and Joey – the longest-lived couple on the creek – never, ever dated.
And, although it was probably one of the best episodes of the series, let’s be honest about Mitch’s death. It was completely unnecessary from a storytelling point of view and you have to feel for the poor bastard. John Wesley Shipp put in four long-suffering years on the show (and has had to endure countless rumors that he and the Beek were doin’ the deed) and they killed him with an ice cream cone. C’mon, Stupin. Let the guy leave with some measure of dignity.
What does Season Six have to offer us?
I fear more of the same. There are three tertiary characters – a blue-collar guy that has a thing for Joey (so she can date Pacey without it being Pacey), a punk rock chick named Emma (previously Eliza, because they were going for an Eliza Dushku look), and a closeted gay professor.
The soulmate (thanks to Season Two for that little gem of an overused word) saga will be culminated in sex that will undoubtedly be misunderstood, forcing a break up until the very end of the season when we’ll be SHOCKED that the show ends D/Jo.
Jen and Audrey will become better friends, which brings hopes of a triangle – and I’ll take either Jen being hot for Pacey or for Audrey. Oh yes.
Jack will continue to be boring.
One thing’s for sure, no matter what the spoilers say, this season will be full of forgotten canon, bad characterization and enough foreshadowing for it to deserve its own place in the credits. And I… well, I’ll be watching. I’m obsessive that way. And I’ll most definitely be bitching. One episode at a time.