Dawsons Creek

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Template:Infobox television Dawson's Creek was an American serial television drama aimed at teenagers, which aired in hour-long episodes from 1998 to 2003. The show is semi-autobiographical, being based on the small-town childhood of its creator Kevin Williamson, who also wrote the slasher film Scream. The lead character, Dawson Leery, shares Williamson's interests and background. Filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, the show was set in a small Massachusetts seaside town and focused on four friends who began their sophomore year of high school as the show began. The program, part of a craze for teen-themed movies and television shows in America in the late 1990s, made stars of its leads and was a defining show for its network, The WB. Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times declared in 2005 that "The WB is turning out to be the television equivalent of the United Nations" and that "Dawson's Creek was its Dag Hammarskjöld: It was the first series bold enough to pick up the mantle of Beverly Hills, 90210 and an inspiration for many variations on the teenage angst theme, including The O.C. on Fox".

The show generated an unusual amount of publicity before its debut, with several television critics and watchdog groups expressing concerns about its anticipated "racy" plots and dialogue; the controversy even drove one of the original production companies away from the project but numerous critics praised it for its realism and intelligent dialogue that included allusions to American television icons such as The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. By the end of its run, the show, its crew, and its young cast had been nominated for over a dozen awards, winning four of them.

The series was known for the verbosity and complexity of the dialogue between its teen characters. The lead character Dawson often demonstrated vocabulary and cultural awareness to outdo the average graduate student, yet that was combined with an emotional immaturity and self-absorption reflecting actual teenagers. This precociousness has been a staple of a number of teen shows since, notably including Gilmore Girls and The O.C..

The lead production company was Columbia Tri-Star Television. Reruns of the show are currently seen in the US in syndication on TBS.


Origins and reaction

Kevin Williamson, a native of the small coastal town of Oriental, North Carolina, was approached in 1995 by producer Paul Stupin to write a pilot for a television series. Stupin, who as a Fox Network executive had brought Beverly Hills, 90210 to the air, sought out Williamson after having read his script for the slasher film Scream, a knowing, witty work about high school students. Initially offered to Fox, the network turned it down but The WB was eager, looking for programming to fill its new Tuesday night lineup. Williamson said "I pitched it as Some Kind of Wonderful, meets Pump Up the Volume, meets James at 15, meets My So-Called Life, meets Little House on the Prairie". The show's lead character, Dawson Leery, was Williamson's doppelgänger: obsessed with movies and platonically sharing his bed with the girl down the creek.

This show was co-produced through Procter & Gamble Productions, the maker of daytime soaps such as As the World Turns and Guiding Light, sold its interest in the show three months before the premiere when the company's hometown newspapers, The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Cincinnati Post, printed stories about the racy dialogue and risque plot lines. The Enquirer's television columnist, John Kieswetter, would write "As much as I want to love the show—the cool kids, charming New England setting, and stunning cinematography—I can't get past the consuming preoccupation with sex, sex, sex". How preoccupied was it? Syndicated columnist John Leo, who said the show should be called "When Parents Cringe", wrote "The first episode contains a good deal of chatter about breasts, genitalia, masturbation, and penis size. Then the title and credits come on and the story begins". The Washington Post's Tom Shales said creator Kevin Williamson was "the most overrated wunderkind in Hollywood" and "what he's brilliant at is pandering." Williamson denied this was his intention, telling television critics before the show's premiere that "I never set out to make something provocative and racy".

The Parents Television Council, the group founded by L. Brent Bozell to monitor television for sex, violence, and coarse language, proclaimed the show the single worst program of the 1997-1998 season, a title the Council would also award it for the 1998-1999 season. The Council would proclaim it the fourth worst show in 2000-2001. However, on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the National Organization for Women offered an endorsement, saying it was one of the least sexually exploitive shows on the air.

- - But for every scathing review, there was a glowing one. Variety wrote it was "an addictive drama with considerable heart," "the teenage equivalent of a Woody Allen movie—a kind of 'Deconstructing Puberty.'" The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said it was "a teen's dream." The Dayton Daily News listed Capeside as a television town they'd most like to live in. The Seattle Times declared it the best show of the 1997-1998 season.

The New York Times had perhaps the best headline on its review: "Young, Handsome, and Clueless in Peyton Place." That was precisely the sort of allusion real teenagers weren't likely to get, let alone make, but the show's punchy dialogue was full of them. Dawson calls his mother's co-anchor "Ted Baxter" and refers to his parents as "Rob and Laura Petrie." He responds to his principal's request for a film glorifying the football team as belonging to "the Leni Riefenstahl approach to filmmaking." Jen says her parents followed "the Ho Chi Minh school of parenting." The verbiage was high-flying too: star Michelle Williams confessed in interviews she had to consult her dictionary when she read the scripts.

The witty scripts were filled with memorable dialogue. In the fourth season finale Dawson tells Joey, "I didn't plan on graduating a virgin." Joey replies "The best-laid plans . . . " Jen declares "Don't knock sullen and introspective. Those can be two very sexy qualities." Dawson, excited over a Godard film asks "How can you not like a movie where the fake name on the guy's passport is László Kovács?"

The show, while never a huge ratings success among the general population, did very well with younger audiences and became a defining show for the WB Network. (The first season's highest ranked episode was the finale, which was fifty-ninth, while the highest rated was the second episode, scoring so well only because there was no programming on the other networks, which were carrying President Clinton's State of the Union address in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal.)

Dawson's Creek's ultimate impact was far broader than the Nielsen Ratings would imply, alluded to in such disparate places as Jim Borgman's comic strip Zits, a Maureen Dowd column about the Republican leadership of Congress, and the film 10 Things I Hate About You. It made stars of its leads and now seems ripe for the kind of academic analysis its former lead-in Buffy the Vampire Slayer has already been subjected to.



First season

Set in the fictional Massachusetts seaside town of Capeside, the show began during the tenth grade and the first year of high school for Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek), Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson), and Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), three lifelong friends and Capesiders, who were joined in the pilot by Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams). All were fifteen.

Dawson was a dreamy romantic obsessed with movies, especially those of Steven Spielberg, Dawson having posters of all his films in his room, putting the least of them, 1941 and Always, on the inside of his closet doors. His parents were Mitch (John Wesley Shipp), who had no visible profession except puttering around the house with dreams of owning a seafood restaurant, and Gale (Mary-Margaret Humes), an Emmy-winning anchor on the local TV news.

Tomboy Joey, named for Jo in Little Women, had always been in love with Dawson though she often denied it and he was oblivious to her adoration. For years, she'd been climbing in his bedroom window and platonically sharing his bed. She lived down the creek from Dawson and often took a rowboat to visit him. Joey's mother had died from cancer when Joey was thirteen and her father, Mike (Gareth Williams), was in prison for "conspiracy to traffic in marijuana in excess of 10,000 pounds". Her harried and very pregnant sister, Bessie (Nina Repeta), about ten years older than Joey, was raising her while running the Ice House restaurant, where Joey worked as a waitress.

File:Katie holmes promo.jpg
Katie Holmes, who played Joey Potter, was the only actor to appear in all 128 episodes of Dawson's Creek .

Pacey was best friends with Dawson and engaged in playful love-hate banter with Joey. The three had grown up together and known each other since they were all five years old. Pacey, the youngest of five children, was considered his family's great disappointment; they never stopped reminding him of how much a loser he was. His father (John Finn) was Capeside's police chief, but was also an alcoholic and never passed up a chance to browbeat and put Pacey down leading to Pacey's low pride and self-esteem. His older brother, Doug (Dylan Neal), was a cop wanting to follow in his father's footsteps. As part of their ongoing brotherly banter, Pacey (believing Doug was a homosexual in denial) incessantly urged Doug to come out of the closet in which Doug vehemently denied being.

Jen's parents, either unable or unwilling to do anything with their seemingly out-of-control daughter—she'd begun having sex at twelve and the last straw was her being caught in flagrante delicto in her parents' bed—had exiled her from New York City to live with her rather forbidding and deeply religious maternal grandmother, Evelyn Ryan (Mary Beth Peil), a retired nurse her granddaughter called "Grams". (Ostensibly she was sent to Capeside to help her grandmother care for her bed-ridden grandfather, who was only seen asleep and would die in the season finale.) Jen and Grams lived next door to Dawson. Smitten at first sight, Dawson wooed Jen to Joey's consternation. Dawson was shocked to learn of Jen's past, not knowing what to think. Then, Dawson discovered his mother was having an affair with her co-anchor. She and Mitch would ineffectually try to reconcile, eventually divorcing in the second season.

Bessie had her baby in the Leery's living room, delivered by Mrs. Ryan, who disapproved of Bessie's not being married to the child's black father, Bodie (Obi Ndefo). (The boy would be named Alexander.) To Pacey's utter astonishment, his English teacher Tamara Jacobs (LeAnn Hunley) took him up on his lewd suggestions and they began a torrid affair that turned surprisingly tender. When word leaked out, Pacey, in order to save her reputation and certain legal repercussions, told the authorities it was all fiction, merely adolescent braggadocio that got completely out of hand. Miss Jacobs left town shortly thereafter.

The first season also saw the gang trapped in detention one Saturday afternoon à la The Breakfast Club during which a game of truth or dare, instigated by Abby Morgan (Monica Keena), a resident bad girl, forced lurking attractions and tensions to the surface; a boys-only trip to a bar during which shenanigans ensued between Dawson, Pacey, and Jen's ex-boyfriend from New York, Billy Konrad (Eion Bailey); a night of horror-pranks and maybe-murderers thwarted in "The Scare"; and a "Beauty Contest" that showcased a tomboy Joey being coaxed out of her shell by a well-meaning Jen while a renegade Pacey ran as the first male contestant in a formerly all-female contest.

Throughout, Dawson struggled with a choice between blonde Jen and brunette Joey — the new girl in town versus the girl he'd always known. Meanwhile, Pacey exhorted him to see what was right in front of him, telling him to make a choice, especially after he, himself, spent an afternoon trawling for snails for a biology-experiment-gone-awry with Joey that turned into a surprisingly fun interlude that found the two connecting differently, beneath their previously prevalent antagonism.

In the season finale, Joey and Dawson had a passionate first kiss in his bedroom, part of the cliffhanger which asked if Joey would take the school's offer to be an exchange student in Paris.

Second season

The second season, which began the morning after the events of the first season finale, brought Dawson and Joey together (she had decided to stay in Capeside), but their dating was short-lived, lasting six episodes.

There were two new students at Capeside, siblings Jack (Kerr Smith) and Andie McPhee (Meredith Monroe). Their mentally disturbed mother had never recovered from the death of their brother Tim (shades of Ordinary People) and was delusional, carrying on imagined conversations with him. Their father (David Dukes) was usually out of town and distant from his children. Andie was an extremely perky, ultra-competitive, straight-A student who clicked with the slacker Pacey. After some testy initial bantering (he had initially dismissed her as a spoiled trust-fund baby), they fell in love and eventually became lovers. Joey, feeling suffocated and lost in her relationship with Dawson, fell for Jack and they dated for a time. However, Jack eventually faced up to the fact that he was gay, causing some furor at school (when Pacey stood up for him against a malevolent teacher and almost got expelled), at home (with Andie and their father), and in his personal life (with the increasingly confused Joey). This, Mrs. McPhee's mental problems, and Andie's renewed instability spurred their father to swoop in and try to move the family to Providence, but Jack refused. Despite both her brother's and Pacey's attempts to keep her at home in Capeside, Andie was eventually dispatched to a mental hospital to be nurtured through her issues with professional help.

Pacey, who had been Dawson's sidekick, found love and new purpose with Andie. Stepping up his scholastic efforts--he started getting A's on his papers and studying more, this season glimpsed a maturing Pacey that faced down several of his demons -- his feelings of unworthiness, a past affair coming back to haunt him when Tamara Jacobs briefly returned (now employed by a real estate office in New York), and his difficult and often abusive relationship with his domineering and alcoholic father. Pacey also showed patience and compassion with Andie's mother, loyalty and courage with Jack's coming out, and a deep, abiding love for Andie.

Jen, who had tried to make a fresh start in Capeside, returned to her old sullen ways, hanging out with the thoroughly evil Abby Morgan (Monica Keena), who brought out Jen's inner bitch. When Abby suddenly died--she fell off a pier while drunk--Jen delivered at Abby's church funeral a hateful diatribe against religion designed to irritate her grandmother. Jen found herself kicked out, Mrs. Ryan throwing up her hands. However, Jen also renewed a more balanced and supportive friendship with Dawson after her attempts to win him back fell by the wayside. Reconnecting as friends, the two were able to support one another through trying times. In the season finale, after Jen had lived with the Leerys and the McPhees, Grams welcomed Jen back into her home--as well as a now homeless Jack.

Mitch became a substitute teacher at Capeside High as he and Gale tried to figure out how or whether to try to rebuild their marriage. At the end of the season Gale moved to Philadelphia to take a news job there.

Joey's father, Mike, was paroled after three years in prison and returned a changed man it seemed. He had ambitious plans of expanding the Ice House, making a life for himself, and getting to know his daughters better. But he soon fell back on his old ways. His competitors in the drug trade threw a Molotov cocktail into the Ice House and the building was a total loss in the resulting blaze. Dawson had seen one of Mike's deals and told Joey. Hating herself for it, Sheriff Witter convinced her to wear a wire to entrap her father. After her father's arrest, Joey told Dawson she could never forgive him for taking her father away again.

Third season

The third season opened with Dawson returning from spending the summer with his mother in Phildelphia and on the bus was enchanted by the sort of woman the phrase cherchez la femme was created for. The temptress—named Eve—would astonish Dawson with her interest in him, as Eve was a pornographic fantasy come to life: she had no past, no friends, no family, nothing but an interest in bedding Dawson, which, however, never came to pass. Eve exited Capeside mysteriously (never to be seen or heard of again), and she would be later revealed as Jen's half-sister, born when Jen's mother was her age.

Joey realized she still had feelings for Dawson and, when it seemed Dawson was being seduced by the temptations Eve had put before him, she awkwardly offered herself to him. He spurned her advances, but then sent Pacey to comfort her and watch over her. As the season progressed, Joey and Pacey became friends, growing closer and closer.

Andie remained in a mental hospital in Providence all summer, while her and Jack's father moved his struggling furniture business to Capeside to live close to his children. After returning to Capeside, Andie revealed to Pacey that she had slept with another patient. Pacey, who had stood by Andie in the previous season as her mental state deteriorated, was deeply unsettled by this development and quickly ended their relationship. Capeside High got a new principal, the no-nonsense Mr. Howard Green (Obba Babatunde), who replaced a succession of rarely seen administrators. He brought along his teenage daughter Nikki (Bianca Lawson) who, like Dawson, was a filmmaker.

When Jen faced off against the egotistical and tyrannical head cheerleader, to her horror, she found herself not only a cheerleader but as the head cheerleader's replacement. Even worse, she found herself the object of the affections of a shy, moony-eyed, freshman football player, Henry Parker (Michael Pitt). They cautiously began dating. But it was Henry who broke it off before they could go any further when he decided to leave Capeside to attend football camp in Ohio in the season final.

Meanwhile, Mitch expanded his duties at school to include coaching the hapless football team, the Minutemen. Gale, fired from her new job in Philadelphia, returned to Capeside and reconciled with Mitch. They opened a restaurant, Leery's Fresh Fish, and remarried in the season finale. Bessie and Joey— with Pacey's help— turned their home into a bed and breakfast, fulfilling the dream of their late mother. Meanwhile, Jack became the star wide receiver of the football team and started dating Ethan (Adam Kaufman), which brought to a head simmering conflicts with his father. However, these tentative forays into dating wrought greater understanding and reconciliation between the two McPhee men.

Pacey continued trying to do good such as helping Andie (as the school assistant director) by participating in the school play of Barefoot in the Park, and becoming a mentor for a nine-year-old boy, named Buzz Thompson, whom Pacey saw as a young version of himself--a neglected boy who uses sarcasm to get attention.

As Dawson explored distractions of his own and grappled with his film aspirations, Pacey and Joey slowly began to fall in love. Pacey kept his growing romantic feelings for Joey at bay for some time, staying supportive as a caring friend by continuing to assist with the B&B, and rallying the students when Joey went up against the school board for the firing of Principal Green who had expelled the school bully Matt Caulfield (Micheal Hagerty) who had defaced her school mural on a wall that she was permitted to paint on. Though Joey would date a college boy briefly—A. J. Moller (Robin Dunne)—her growing attraction and feelings for Pacey could not be denied. A spontaneous roadside kiss led to an explosive culmination between Dawson, Joey and Pacey.

In the season finale, Joey made her choice and sailed into the sunset for a summer alone with Pacey on his restored boat, the True Love.

Fourth season

The fourth season, the gang's senior year at Capeside High, opened with Joey and Pacey returning from a summer-long cruise down the Eastern Seaboard on Pacey's boat, the True Love. Pacey's hitherto unseen sister Gretchen (Sasha Alexander) returned to town during a break from her college studies, moved into a beachfront house, got a job at Leery's, and started dating Dawson. Pacey moved in with Gretchen at her rented house, unable to stand living anymore with his still-outrageously, neglectful parents, or his brother Doug. Pre-Joey Potter, Dawson had had a crush on Gretchen while growing up.

Joey took a job as a waitress at the Capeside Yacht Club under the snobbish and bitchy Mrs. Valentine, the manager, who, along with her unpleasant, spoiled-rich-boy, son Drue, became the villains of the season. Happy in her relationship with Pacey, she still harbored feelings of guilt at the way things went down the preceding spring. Dawson refused to speak to Pacey, believing he had betrayed him. He did, however, forgive Joey's part in the incident. Dawson developed a relationship with Gretchen and begin to fashion tentative, though fragile relations with his former best friend. Drue Valentine, an unwholesome sociopath, was revealed to have known Jen while growing up in New York, and did not hesitate to make her notice him, as well as cause trouble for everyone. At one point, Pacey, Dawson, and Jack got even with the perfidious Drue by framing him for their senior prank—they put the principal's sailboat in the school's indoor pool. Although Drue would pop up now and then until the end of the season to be of an annoyance, he never again attempted to take on Dawson and his friends.

Although Drue remained the villain for the remainder of the season, his wholesome side was less seen. In one episode, he deliberately locked himself and Joey into a storage closet at the Yacht Club just to avoid going to New York to visit his estranged father. In another episode, Mrs. Valentine incredibly blackmailed Joey with termination-of-employment of she and Pacey didn't agree to accompany Drue and his girlfriend, Anna Evans, on a double date just so Joey and Pacey can keep an eye on Drue to make sure he behaves himself. Joey, however, ended up keeping the flirting Anna away from Pacey. In another episode with Drue and Anna, they both sneaked onto a school ski trip to Vermont by impersonating another couple since Drue had been banned from the trip (he's under school probation for the prank he was framed for), and Anna did not go to school at Capeside. Drue somewhat got back at Pacey and Joey by having them left behind at the ski lodge by tricking the chaperone into thinking Pacey and Joey were on the school bus.

The hesitant reconciliation of Dawson and Pacey began after Dawson and Joey rescued Pacey and Jen from a storm at sea. To do so, he stole and damaged a boat belonging to crotchety old Mr. Brooks (Harve Presnell) a long-term resident of Capeside. Dawson did chores for Mr. Brooks to work off his debt and discovered that Mr. Brooks had been a film noir director in Hollywood in the 1950s. Eventually the old man warmed to Dawson and they collaborated on a documentary about his life in which Dawson saw Mr. Brooks as a younger version of himself; a man from Capside whom moved to Hollywood wanting to be a director, and then lost the love of his life to his best friend. As a result, Mr. Brooks never got over it and became a bitter, misanthropic, recluse whom severed all ties to his friends and family, which Dawson was determined not to let that happen to him. When Mr. Brooks died of pancreatic cancer, he left money for Dawson to 'do something great,' which Dawson gave to Joey for her to go to Worthington University in Boston, after the early success of the Potter Bed & Breakfast caused her to receive an inadequate financial aid offer.

Andie, having more than enough credits to graduate, did so halfway through her senior year and then went stay with her aunt in Italy after a disastrous—almost deadly—incident with ecstasy at a nightclub (given to her by the loathsome Drue Valentine, who then successfully framed Jen for it). She had plans to attend Harvard University in the fall, and returned for the graduation episode near the end of the season. Gale found herself pregnant in her 40s and had a daughter, Lillian, named after Joey's mother.

Jack began dating Tobey (David Monahan), whom he met at a gay activism meeting. They would kiss at the prom—supposedly the first romantic kiss between two men in a prime-time drama. (Some critics did not applaud this milestone. Entertainment Weekly said the kiss was "typical of Dawson's this season, a thundering dud.")

On the senior ski trip, nine months into their relationship, Joey and Pacey consummated their relationship in a scene several critics and fans lauded as "beautiful" and "tender". (Entertainment Weekly said Joey "finally got her lift-ticket punched".) But teenage self-doubt, an uncertain future, and the continuing looming presence of Dawson strained the bond between Pacey and Joey, culminating in a scene at the prom in which Pacey broke up with Joey in a very public, humiliating manner. But they still harbored deep feelings for each other and reconciled briefly for a better, though bittersweet ending of their teenage romance. As his friends graduated, Pacey was seen at the airport, flying off to a job on a yacht in the Caribbean, his future uncertain.

Gretchen also broke up with Dawson at the prom after realizing that he has his whole life ahead of him and she didn't want to tie him down, as well as seeing the specter of Joey still lingering in his mind. As a result, Gretchen left town without saying goodbye, presumably to go back to college and leaving behind only a good-bye letter for Dawson.

As for Jen, she remained at the mercy of Drue. After getting drunk on the school ski trip, Jen was forced by the school to see a psychologist, named Tom Frost, for her inner teen issues to look for the reason for her self-destructive attitude. Jen eventually uncovered a long-repressed memory about finding her father cheating on her mother with a teenage girl back in New York six years earlier which triggered Jen's downward spiral. During the prom episode, Jen got drunk over her issues and nearly fell off the yacht which the prom was being held on. But she was saved from suffering the same fate that befell Abby Morgan (in season 2) by the mostly unlikely and unlikable of people: Drue Valentine--the only episode that showed him as a good guy. Drue even persuaded Jen to help him pull off a school prank for old times sake by setting off the school sprinklers during the graduation ceremony.

The season finale saw Joey, Jen and Jack seeing off Dawson as left for USC Film School. Joey and Dawson shared a kiss in front of his bedroom window that echoed the one at the end of the first season, but this one was more ambiguous, as Joey was nursing a broken heart over Pacey and Dawson was feeling anxiety over being so far away from home soon. Was this a reconnection? Or goodbye?

Fifth season

The fifth season moved the show to Boston where Joey was attending elite Worthington University (something akin to Harvard), while Jack and Jen were attending a more modest community college, Boston Bay. They still lived with Grams, however, she having sold her house in Capeside and moved to Boston as well. Jack joined a fraternity and spent all his time drinking and partying, leading to his nearly flunking out of school.

Pacey returned to Boston from the Caribbean, and got a job working in the kitchen of an upscale eatery, Civilization, under the tutelage of owner and chef Danny Brecher (Ian Kahn). Pacey soon became privy to an extramarital affair that Danny was having with one of the waitresses Karen (Lourdes Benedicto). Despite being told to mind his own business, Pacey consoled Karen when Danny refused to leave his wife, in which Karen quit her job. Although Danny's wife apparently never found out of his infidelity, the guilt made Danny leave his wife and his job eventually, leaving Pacey as the full time chief. Later in the season when the restaurant was sold, the new owners appointed a martinet manager, Alex Pearl (Sherilyn Fenn), who so alienated the staff they walked out en masse at Pacey's instigation, leading to both Alex and Pacey's dismissal and the shuttering of the restaurant. Pacey and Joey reconnected as friends and he began dating Audrey Liddell (Busy Phillips), Joey's party-girl roommate at Worthington, with Joey's blessing.

Dawson began the season on his first day as a production assistant on a film directed by the nasty and mean-spirited Todd Carr (Hal Ozsan), who quickly fired him. Completely disillusioned, Dawson quit film school and returned to Capeside, where his parents were disappointed in him for giving up so easily. Dawson's father was killed in an automobile wreck after a big fight with his son. Dawson discovered a film school in Boston and enrolled. Dawson later directed a romance film with the cooperation of the overeager, oblivious, and obtuse fellow student Oliver Chirkchick (Jordan Bridges) that starred Charlie (Chad Michael Murray), Jen's latest former boyfriend, and Audrey. Meanwhile, Dawson pushed Joey away after his father's death and grew closer to Jen. They became lovers. But Jen later broke it up after their relationship became unstable and uncertain.

Joey became close to Professor David Wilder (Ken Marino), her English teacher and a published novelist, and they nearly had an affair. They parted on good terms, with he deciding to try writing again. He told her when they parted that the greatest scene in literature was in the finale chapters of Flaubert's Sentimental Education, where two old friends reminisce about the things that never were.

In the season finale, Pacey and Joey had a conversation on the dock in Capeside that initiates a mad-dash tandem trip to the airport. Pacey went to stop Audrey and declare his feelings for her, and Joey went to catch Dawson at the gate to profess her own feelings. Pacey ended up going with Audrey to L. A. for the summer. Joey stayed in Capeside but let Dawson know she would always have feelings for him. Also, Jen decided to stay for the summer with her parents in New York while Jack decided to stay in Boston.

Sixth season

The final season found Dawson in Boston shooting a horror film with the hack Todd Carr, and carrying on an affair with the leading lady, Natasha Kelly. When Todd quit, the producers hired Dawson to finish the film. He then pitched a film of his own, an autobiographical coming of age story, but the sleazy producer (Paul Gleason) was only interested in making it into a teen sex comedy in the vein of American Pie. Dawson, wanting to be true to himself, decided that was not for him.

After a night of reminiscing, Dawson and Joey finally had sex though its consequences were not what they expected. Dawson's relationship with Natasha surfaced the day after and during a surprise birthday party thrown by her friends in her dorm room, Joey initiated a final confrontation with Dawson that ended with them burying the proverbial romantic hatchet.

Pacey got a job as a stockbroker under the oleaginous Rich Rinaldi (Dana Ashbrook) and soon was sporting stylish clothes, driving a fancy car, and spending his new-found cash. Pacey and Jack moved in with Emma Jones (Megan Gray), a good-natured English barmaid who worked at a local bar/restaurant named Hell's Kitchen, and offered Joey a chance to return to waitressing. She took it and soon became involved romantically with Eddie Doling (Oliver Hudson), who was the bartender where Joey worked and was in Joey's literature class. The class was taught by the liberal, but stern and shark-like, Greg Hetson (Roger Howarth), the father of a headstrong teenage girl, named Harley (Mika Boorem), whom Joey began to tutor with her school work. The somewhat misogynist and mean-spirted Professor Hetson became burden on Joey and, through most of the season, never passed up a chance to signal her out, or embarass her in front of his class over her lack of knowledge with any given subject. Eddie kept Joey's sanity intact by persuading her, several times, to not let Hetson emotionally get to her. After a series of romantic stops and starts, Eddie eventually left town. When Joey tracked him down at his childhood home, she brought with her an opportunity for him to attend college in California to pursue his dreams of becoming a writer.

Meanwhile, Pacey and Audrey's relationship buckled beneath the strain of his obsessive work ethic and her growing addiction to alcohol while she was working as the lead singer for an all-girl rock band called 'Hells Belles' which Emma was also a part of in playing the drums. Eventually, they broke up and Audrey landed in rehab in Los Angeles, her hometown. Jack embarked on a brief relationship with David, a fellow classmate, before working through an awkward almost-liaison with an apparantly married college lecturer. David's friend, C.J. (Jensen Ackles), after an ill-advised one-night stand with a drunk Audrey early on, later became Jen's boyfriend.

Late in the season, Mrs. Ryan informed Jen that she had breast cancer. Jen persuaded her to move to New York City and live with her and Jen's mother (Mimi Rogers), now divorced, to be close to the hospital and to try to reconcile their long-standing familial differences. Jack would come with them.

Pacey continued living the fast life of wheeling-dealing under the mentorship of the aggressive Rich Rinaldi. In one episode, Pacey came to a sort-of peace agreement with his estranged father after Mr. Witter suffered a heart attack due to his life-long alcoholism, while Pacey also dealt with his brother, Doug, over Pacey's new lifestyle. With Mr. Witter too sick to work anymore, Doug became the acting sheriff of Capeside, and ultimately full-time sheriff.

Pacey and Joey briefly rekindled the flame between them after getting locked in a K-mart store overnight, but after a short-lived attempt to reconcile completely, Eddie returned. Joey opted to explore her continuing feelings for Eddie, leaving Pacey broken-hearted, yet steadfast in his continuing friendship to her. The reconciliation with Eddie, however, was also brief, ending with him leaving again, taking a trip to Europe without Joey.

Dawson persuaded Pacey to invest all of his money in stocks in order to raise capital for his new film. After losing all the money to the vagaries of the stock market as well as his job after punching the cynical Rich Rinaldi for insulting him, Pacey returned to Capeside to break the news to Dawson about him loosing all of their money. At this point, Dawson, Joey and Pacey came face-to-face with their past demons again, with a huge argument breaking out between Dawson and Pacey about past issues. Dawson brought up that for the past two years since graduation from high school, Pacey had turned their friendship into a competition to see who can succeed in life. Joey tried to intervene, but to no avail as both Dawson and Pacey continued lashing out a each other, with Dawson calling Pacey a loser and screw-up who will never succeed at anything in life. Pacey lashed back, calling Dawson a daydreamer living in a fantasy world of the movies and chasing a dream he knows he can never have. The argument ended with both Dawson and Pacey walking away from each other, leaving Joey alone and silent knowing that both of them were right about everything that was just said.

Joey eventually came to the rescue by salvaging Dawson's movie by persuading various people to act for free in Dawson's movie project whom included Harley Hetson to play Joey and Harley's boyfriend, Patrick, to play Dawson, as well as Audrey to play the role of Miss Jacobs, and even Dawson's mother helped out with the work and had Todd Carr come to Capeside to assist Dawson. By the end of the episode, Dawson had completed his film, Pacey and Jack moved out of their appartment (after Emma Jones apparently left for her home in England), Jen and Jack transfered to NYU, Audrey had to stay behind at Worthington to attend summer classes for her many absenses, Pacey returned to Capeside and shacking up with Doug to try to rebuild his life, and Joey finally made her life-long dream of traveling to Paris, France come true.

The finale

The two-part series finale, titled "All Good Things…Must Come to An End," was set five years into the future. Joey was a book editor living in New York. Dawson was in Los Angeles as the creator and executive producer of a TV night time teen soap, The Creek, based on the Dawson-Joey-Pacey triangle which involved three characters. Colby was based on Dawson's character: a movie buff and philosopher on teenage alienation. Sam was based on Joey's character: a orphan tomboy with a barely disguisable crush on Colby. Petey (not shown on camera) was based on Pacey's character: a clownish loser whom Sam also has feelings for. Jen was working at an art gallery and currently a single mother with an infant daughter, still living in New York with a frail Grams. Jack had returned to Capeside to teach high school English and was now Doug's lover—though Sheriff Doug was still in the closet. Pacey was the proprietor of the reopened The Ice House. Audrey was reputed to be on a tour with a rock band as a backup singer. Andie McPhee (her scenes were cut from the original version) was living in Boston and working as a resident doctor at a major hospital. The gang (sans Audrey) reunited in Capeside to attend Gale's wedding, and at the reception, Jen collapsed. Her friends learned she had an incurable congenital heart defect. As they awaited her death, they all reminisced about their friendship and Jen arranged for Jack to adopt her baby. Jen died shortly thereafter. Doug agreed with Jack to have them raise Jen's infant daughter, and Doug also agreed to let more people know about his and Jack's romantic relationship.

As for the Dawson-Joey-Pacey triangle, Pacey declared that Joey was "off the hook" for any romantic obligations with him and told her that "the simple act of being in love with you is enough for me" as he resolved to move on "in this life" and be happy. Pacey also explained that as much as Joey wanted, all her life, to get away from Capeside and see the world, he is forever destined to be stuck there like his father and grandfather before them. In the face of such honesty and unconditional love, Joey confessed she'd "always been running" from him and their love, "never ready for it", finally telling him, "I love you—you know that." Joey and Dawson reconciled to the fact that their love as soulmates was eternally "pure" and "innocent," and that they would always be linked, but as something deeper than simply friends or lovers. Dawson returned to California and his TV show, while Pacey and Joey renewed their relationship. At the end, Pacey and Joey snuggle on a couch together in NYC, gaily laughing and congratulating their best friend, Dawson, on the phone for finally getting his heart's desire—a meeting with Steven Spielberg. The triangle is, at long last, harmonious.


Principal cast

Main cast of Dawson's Creek.

Five actors were credited in the main titles for every season: James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery; Katie Holmes as Josephine Lynn "Joey" Potter, Dawson's best (female) friend; Joshua Jackson as Pacey J. Witter, Dawson's best (male) friend; Michelle Williams as Jennifer "Jen" Lindley; and Mary Beth Peil as Evelyn "Grams" Ryan, Jen's grandmother.

Additional cast

The actors playing Dawson and Joey's relatives were regulars credited in the main titles through the fourth season and occasional guest stars thereafter. They were Mary-Margaret Humes, as Gale Leery, Dawson's mother; John Wesley Shipp as Mitch Leery, Dawson's father; and Nina Repeta, as Bessie Potter, Joey's older sister. Gareth Williams was seen a few times in the first and second seasons as Mike Potter, Joey and Bessie's father. Bodie Wells, Bessie's lover, was played by George Gaffney in the pilot, Obi Ndefo thereafter.

Doug Witter, Pacey's older brother, was played by Dylan Neal. He was regularly seen in the first, third, and fourth seasons. He was absent for the second season as he was a regular on the series Hyperion Bay. Gretchen Witter, Pacey's older sister, was introduced in the fourth season and played by Sasha Alexander.

Tamara Jacobs, a Capeside High English teacher Leann Hunley appeared in the first season and once in the second. Mr. Ray Peterson, another Capeside English teacher seen early in the run was Edmund J. Kearney. Abby Morgan, a Capeside student and later Jen's friend was played by Monica Keena appeared frequently in the first and second seasons.

Andrea "Andie" McPhee, a new student at Capeside, was introduced in the second season, was played by Meredith Monroe. She was initially credited as a guest star became a regular in the third season, credited in the main titles, until she left the show mid-way through the fourth season. Kerr Smith was Jack McPhee, Andie's brother, also new to Capeside in the second season. He too was a guest star who became a regular, remaining with the show until its finale. Their father, Mr. McPhee (whose first name was given as Will, and then Joseph) appeared occasionally during the second, third and fourth seasons and was played by David Dukes until the actor's sudden death from a heart attack in October 2000, midway through the fourth season. The role was not recast.

Eve, a mysterious new woman in Capeside in first few episodes of the third season was Brittany Daniel. Capeside High's new principal Mr. Green was Obba Babatunde and Bianca Lawson was his daughter. Michael Pitt was Henry Parker, a freshman football player whose character abruptly disappeared at the end of the third season.

In the fourth season, the semi-regulars seen frequently were Carolyn Hennesy who played Mrs. Valentine, the wealthy and snobish Capeside Yacht Club manager, and her spoiled teenage son, Drue, was played by Mark Matkevich. Arthur (A.I.) Brooks was played by Harve Presnell.

When the story relocated to Boston in the fifth season, several new actors appeared. Ken Marino was Professor David Wilder, Joey's stern, but good-natured English professor. Busy Philipps, who would become a regular, credited in the main titles, was Audrey Liddell, Joey's brash dorm roommate. Todd Carr, a hot-tempered movie director was played by Hal Ozsan and Jordan Bridges was film student Oliver Chirckirk. Pacey's boss Danny Brecher, a chef, was Ian Kahn. Charlie Todd, Jen's boyfriend who later became smitted with Joey was played by Chad Michael Murray.

In the final season, Oliver Hudson played Eddie Dooling, Joey's lover and Jensen Ackles was C.J., Jen's lover. Megan Gray appeared early in the season as Emma Jones, Pacey and Jack's roommate while Dana Ashbrook was Rich Rinaldi, Pacey's coniving new boss. Roger Howarth was Professor Greg Hetson, another of Joey's English professors, and Mika Boorem was his daughter Harley.

Notable guest stars

Andy Griffith played an actor who had appeared in Mr. Brooks' films and stole his girlfriend, appearing to say goodbye to Brooks on his deathbed. Pat Hingle played a mechanic when Dawson's car broke down on his roadtrip with Gretchen. Paul Gleason was a trashy Hollywood producer and Nicole Bilderback was his assistant. Bianca Lawson was Principal Green's daughter, who was also a budding filmmaker. Virginia Madsen played a woman Pacey was having an adulterous affair with in the series finale.

Lawrence Pressman played the superintendent of Capeside schools. Rachael Leigh Cook was a college student who first appeared as a nude model in Joey's art class and later appeared in Dawson's roman à clef film about himself and Joey. Alan Fudge was the guard at the studio gate on Dawson's first day working for Todd. Julie Bowen was Dawson's aunt. Jonathan Lipnicki was Buzz, a boy Pacey was assigned in the Big Brothers program. Scott Foley was a football player in the first season. Jason Behr was a Capeside student the gang studied with. Jack Osbourne played himself, a friend of Audrey's. Eion Bailey was Jen's former boyfriend from New York who followed her to Capeside.

Ali Larter was a student at Capeside who went out with Pacey because Andie told her he was dying. Eric Balfour was a classmate of Joey's who claimed they had slept together. Mädchen Amick was a teacher at Capeside High who dated Mitch. Mel Harris and Mimi Rogers played Jen's mother. K Callan was in charge of the Homecoming Ball, organizing it with Jen. Marla Gibbs was the admission's office secretary when Andie visited Harvard. Jaime Bergman was a prostitute in New Orleans who Pacey almost slept with. Mercedes McNab was the wife of the mugger who robbed Joey in "Downtown Crossing". Robin Dunne was A.J., who was Joey's boyfriend who she met on a college visit. Harry Shearer was the principal of Capeside High, Dave Peskin. Ned Brower was an earnest suitor of Joey's affections. Pop band M2M guest starred as themselves on the 100th Episode of the series.


The theme song, "I Don't Wanna Wait" was written and performed by Paula Cole. For the first season, international broadcasts used "Run Like Mad", performed by Jann Arden, but switched to Cole's song for the remainder of the run. The producers originally planned to use Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket" for the theme (it was used in the original pilot) but she would not grant them permission and Cole's song was substituted. There were two soundtrack albums, the first selling far better than the second. (Though both albums carried stickers stating "all artists on this record have or will be featured on Dawson's Creek", the second contained two songs that never were: Jessica Simpson's "I Think I'm in Love with You" and Lara Fabian's "Givin' Up on You".) Neither did Something For Kate's "Photograph" appear on the show, but it did appear on the Australian version of the first CD. Very late in the series' run, the official music site posted a feature to create custom albums from songs appearing on the show.

Because the producers failed to secure the rights when the shows were produced and did not wish to pay for them later, some of the songs that aired in the original broadcasts (and are used in the syndicated run) were replaced in the DVD edition of the show despite the show having a signature sound.

Adam Fields was the score composer for the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons. Danny Lux, Stephen Graziano, and Dennis McCarthy (a ASCAP and Emmy Award-winning composer) wrote the score for second season episodes. Mark Mothersbaugh composed the third season scores. A CD was released solely on the show's music site on January 7, 2003, of Adam Fields' compositions.


The show was shot like a motion picture using a single camera and often filmed on location, rather than being largely studio bound. The show used warm colors, similar to Party of Five, rather than the cold, harsh look of shows such as The Practice. While most of the episodes were conventional, there were two Rashomon-like episodes exploring a story from differing perspectives, and the somber fifth season episode "Downtown Crossing" featured only one regular, Joey, and her interaction with a mugger. The fourth season episode "The Unusual Suspects", was filmed as a film noir detective story, with camerawork and music appropriate to the genre.

The show at times was deliberately self-conscious, as when Eve tells Dawson he is Felicity, beginning a discussion of why Dawson doesn't like television shows which concludes with his observation that they cut away when the best part comes, immediately demonstrated by Eve, about to kiss him, is interrupted by the main titles.

Main titles for the second season were done to resemble the work of an amateur filmmaker with its camera angles and look of spilled chemicals on the print.


Dawson's Creek was nominated for fourteen awards, including ALMA Awards, Casting Society of America Awards, Golden Satellite Awards, TV Guide Awards, and YoungStar Awards. Joshua Jackson won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Actor twice and the show won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Drama once. The series also won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Drama Series.


The show had, in the words of television experts Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, a "semi-spinoff", Young Americans. The protagonist of Young Americans, Will Krudski (Rodney Scott), was introduced in three episodes at the end of the show's third season, as a former classmate of Dawson, Joey, and Pacey, who had moved away some years before and had returned for a visit. He was never referred to or seen before or since. Young Americans was made by the same company as Dawson's Creek, Columbia TriStar Television, and appeared in Dawson's Creek's timeslot when it went on hiatus during the summer of 2000.

DVD release

The first season was released on DVD on April 1, 2003, while the final season was airing. The second season was released December 16, 2003; the third on June 29, 2004; the fourth on October 5, 2004; and the fifth on May 3, 2005. A DVD of the series finale, which was sixteen minutes longer than the version aired by The WB, was released on September 30, 2003.

Broadcast history

United States

Dawson's Creek premiered in the U.S. on January 20, 1998 on The WB Network, Tuesdays at 9 P.M. Beginning with the second season in the fall of 1998, it moved to Wednesdays at 8 P.M. for the remainder of the run. Six seasons, totalling 128 episodes, were produced. The first season was repeated during the summer of 1998, but the show went on hiatus during successive summers. The two-hour finale aired on May 14, 2003, was repeated on May 28, and the series then left The WB schedule. The cable network TBS began weekday reruns on March 31, 2003. Initially TBS aired four episodes a day from 8 A.M. to noon until it went through all 128 episodes, then broadcast two episodes on weekdays from 10 A.M. to noon.


The show also aired in numerous international markets, listed here with the premiere dates: Brazil, March 3, 1998; the United Kingdom, May 2, 1998; Israel, September 1, 1998; Sweden, September 11, 1998; Switzerland, December 27, 1998; Germany, January 3, 1999; Italy, January 3, 1999; France (on the TV1 Network), January 10, 1999; Australia, January 19, 1999; Romania, February 28, 1999; New Zealand, June 25, 1999; Hungary, September 11, 1999; Spain, 2000; and Portugal, April 8, 2001.


  • The only character to appear in every one of the 128 episodes was Joey Potter (Katie Holmes).
  • The pilot aired some recycled footage from the original pilot, resulting in continuity errors. The initial moments show two signs reading "Capeside High School" but one says "Home of the Minutemen" and the other says "Home of the Wildcats". Scenes in school switch back and forth between two obviously different buildings. The original pilot used New Hanover High School in Wilmington (which is the home of the Wildcats) while reshoots and subsequent episodes used a set on a soundstage for high school interiors and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for exteriors.
  • The publisher Simon and Schuster published a series of fifteen mass-market paperback novelizations of the series. (See the list at Amazon.com here).
  • The Ice House restaurant burned at the end of the second season because the owners of the location used for filming did not wish to continue their association with the show—thus the building was written out of the program.
  • Actress Meredith Monroe (Andie McPhee) shot scenes to be used in the series finale but they were not used because of time constraints. Andie was shown as a medical student.
  • David Dukes, who died in 2000, last appeared in the fourth season episode "You Had Me At Good Bye", which saw the departure of Andie. The episode concluded with a title card "In Loving Memory. David Dukes, 1945-2000".
  • A large number of episode titles were also those of films, e.g. The Longest Day, Hotel New Hampshire, Secrets & Lies, Falling Down, Lost Weekend, High Anxiety, and The Kids Are Alright. Many were allusions to William Shakespeare, e.g. the finale, All Good Things…Must Come to an End, Two Gentlemen of Capeside. One title, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, was the title of a volume of film criticism by Pauline Kael.
  • There was an incredible spike in the popularity of the name "Dawson" after the show premiered. According to the Social Security Administration, the name was the 744th most popular boys name in 1997 but leapt to 198th in 1998 and 136th in 1999. It has since dropped to 206th in 2004.
  • Mad Magazine parodied the show as "Dudson's Geeks" in issue 392, April 2000, while Cracked parodied it as "Dawson's Geeks" in its October 1998 issue [1].
  • Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show parodied the show as "Moody's Point" in the form of a series of short episodes within the main program.
  • Dawson Creek is a small city in British Columbia, Canada


Filming locations

Filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, at EUE Screen Gems Studios and on location around Wilmington. College scenes in the fifth and sixth seasons shot at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and additional shooting was done in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1999 some scenes were shot on the University of Richmond campus. The fourth season episode "Eastern Standard Time" also did location shooting in New York City, including at Grand Central Terminal.

Production credits

Created by Kevin Williamson.

Production companies

Produced by Columbia Tri-Star Television, Outerbanks Entertainment, Granville Productions, and Procter and Gamble Productions.

Executive producers

Executive-produced by Kevin Williamson, Paul Stupin, Charles Rosin, Deborah Joy LeVine, Jon Harmon Feldman, Alex Gansa, Greg Berlanti, Tom Kapinos, Gina Fattore, Jeffrey Stepakoff.


Episodes were produced by Dana Baratta, Greg Berlanti, Janice Cooke-Leonard, Alan Cross, Zack Estrin, Gina Fattore, Jon Harmon Feldman, Maggie Friedman, Darin Goldberg, David Blake Hartley, Tom Kapinos,Drew Matich, Chris Levinson, Paul Marks, Drew Matich, Shelley Meals, Rina Mimoun, Steve Miner, Gregory Prange, Jed Seidel, David Semel, Cynthia Stegner, Jeffrey Stepakoff, Dale Williams, Mike White


Episodes were written by Dana Baratta, Greg Berlanti, Hadley Davis, Gina Fattore, Anna Fricke, Maggie Friedman, Alex Gansa, Diego García Gutiérrez, Liz Garcia, Laura Glasser, Holly Henderson, Tom Kapinos, Rina Mimoun, Jason M. Palmer, Jed Seidel, Jeffrey Stepakoff, Liz Tigelaar, Mike White, and Kevin Williamson


Episodes were directed by Lou Antonio, Allan Arkush, John Behring Sanford Bookstaver, Arvin Brown, Jan Eliasberg, Michael Fields, Rodman Flender, Morgan J. Freeman , Dennie Gordon, Bruce Seth Green, Joshua Jackson, Joanna Kerns, Peter B. Kowalski, Perry Lang, Michael Lange, Nick Marck, Melanie Mayron, Robert Duncan McNeill, Steve Miner, Jason Moore, Joe Napolitano, Patrick R. Norris, Scott Paulin, David Petrarca, Gregory Prange, Krishna Rao, Steven Robman, Bethany Rooney, Arlene Sanford, David Semel, Kerr Smith, Sandy Smolan, Lev L. Spiro, David Straiton, Jay Tobias, Jesús Salvador Treviño, Michael Toshiyuki Uno, and James Whitmore Jr.

Bibliography and references

Darren Crosdale's Dawson's Creek: The Official Companion (Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel, 1999) (ISBN 0740707256), thoroughly chronicles the show, but only covers events through to the end of the second season. Scott Andrews' Troubled Waters: An Unauthorised and Unofficial Guide To Dawson's Creek (Virgin Publishing 2001 (ISBN 0753506254)) also covers the series thoroughly but it includes all episodes up to the end of Season Four and, because it is unofficial, is freer with both criticism and praise. A less thorough book from about the same time, aimed at teens, is Meet the Stars of Dawson's Creek by Grace Catalano, which has more about the show than the title would imply. Andy Mangels's From Scream to Dawson's Creek: An Unauthorized Take on the Phenomenal Career of Kevin Williamson (Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2000) (ISBN 1580631223) covers the show well but omits later seasons.

External links

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