Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From… ‘Dawson’s Creek’

Katie Holmes as Joey and James Van Der Beek as Dawson, Michelle Williams as Jen and Joshua Jackson as Pacey in DAWSON'S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)
Katie Holmes as Joey and James Van Der Beek as Dawson, Michelle Williams as Jen and Joshua Jackson as Pacey in DAWSON’S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)

Let’s take a little walk down memory lane. We’ll stop in Capeside, Massachusetts, a small town that doesn’t have much but a high school, a boating dock and a quaint little B&B. That’s right, we are heading back to the set of Dawson’s Creek, the series that took over The WB from 1998-2003. The show, oozing in teenage angst, was a coming-of age tale about Dawson and a group of his misfit friends. While all things led back to Dawson and his overbearingly naïve character, the show also delved into the unstable and complicated lives of characters like Joey, Pacey, Andy, Jen and Jack. Like most teenage dramas, Dawson’s Creek covered topics like divorce, drinking, sex, first loves, sexual orientation, dreams and of course more sex.

Although the show ended what may seem like a lifetime ago, the lessons that arose surprisingly stuck with us. Here are the top lessons I learned from Dawson’s Creek.

Katie Holmes as Joey and James Van Der Beek as Dawson in DAWSON'S CREEK (Image Credit: Fred Norris / Sony Pictures)
Katie Holmes as Joey and James Van Der Beek as Dawson in DAWSON’S CREEK (Image Credit: Fred Norris / Sony Pictures)

Everyone needs an authority figure.

Where were the parents? It seemed like there were never adults around when you needed them. There were Dawson’s parents, but they only seemed to show up when they were loving or hating each other during their divorce. Conveniently, they never showed up for the unusual sleepovers that went on in Dawson’s bedroom, or late night hanging out in town. Grams was another prominent adult figure. She was very conservative and firm in her Christian beliefs, but her wisdom never made it out of her house though. Lastly, there was Joey’s dad, but there isn’t much to say because after being released from jail, he went right back in the slammer for dealing more drugs. With the knowledge of what the kids of Capeside were doing, the show may have taught us to watch our teens a little better.

Katie Holmes as Joey and Joshua Jackson as Pacey in DAWSON'S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)
Katie Holmes as Joey and Joshua Jackson as Pacey in DAWSON’S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)

Whenever in a love triangle, always pick the second person

The infamous love triangle of Dawson, Pacey and Joey intrigued the audience throughout the whole series. Would Joey choose Dawson, the boy she had loved since she was a kid, who had a naïve perception of the real world? Or would she go for Pacey, the screw up with a large heart and a knack for saving girls more messed up than himself? While the three of them wrestled with the decision of who would be together, it was pretty clear what the audience was supposed to draw from this predicament: always go with the second choice.

I think there’s a saying that says, “If you are in love with two people, pick the second person, because if the first was enough, you wouldn’t have to go looking again.” The DPJ love triangle taught us just that! In the first season Joey and Dawson went back and forth analyzing what they should do about their relationship. At one point they figured out they were soul mates, but just as easily as they figured it out, Joey fell into the arms of Pacey. Granted the term “soul-mates” means something entirely different when you’re in high school, the fact that it didn’t even last into the next season meant that Joey and Dawson were never a right match. Hence, we learned that if you can’t get it with the first person, go for the back up.

Just do it.

I’m not taking a line from Nike and encouraging any one to work out (well, not completely). I am referencing the topic that without fail always made it to the next season, sex. The characters constantly talked about sex, who was doing it, when was the right time, who was the right person? Now, these are all great questions and appropriate for sixteen-year-olds, but over analyzing the situation just made you want to yell at the television screen and say, “Could you just do it already?”

In this case, the show taught us to be like Pacey when he was doing teachers after the school bell rang or like Jen, before she moved in with Grams. While Jen and Pacey had some insecurity issues that fueled their sexual ambitions, the two gave us less talk and more action. They just let their hormones and feelings lead the way. So the lesson here is not only to do it, but also stop talking about it. That is not to say do it with anyone who is willing – everything comes with a price, but let’s just say you can worry about consequences in the morning.

Over analyzing kills.

In the list of the top 100 things that kill, there is secondhand smoke, death by car accidents, and over-analyzing. And if the series had continued for another two seasons, I guarantee most, if not all of the characters would have died. I mean they analyzed their relationships, their goals, their appearances and personality. Yes, every one thinks about these things and tries to find ways to be better, but the over-analyzing that went into what it meant to have posters of Spielberg plastered on bedroom walls was just ridiculous.

Michelle Williams as Jen and Katie Holmes as Joey in DAWSON'S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)
Michelle Williams as Jen and Katie Holmes as Joey in DAWSON’S CREEK (Image Credit: Sony Pictures)

In this particular incident, Dawson took down his movie posters in an attempt to find other interests he had. After removing them, he was led to believe that he didn’t know who he was any more. This is what I’m talking about. When I go through my closet at the end of a season and throw out some old clothes, including my favorite sweater that I wore everyday, do I now forget who I am? Over analyzing this situation would draw me to the conclusion that getting rid of that sweater was throwing out a piece of my identity. But in actuality the sweater was old and had pizza stains and a hole on the side. To avoid any incidents like this one and the ones Dawson and his friends had, it is clear that over-analyzing shouldn’t be done.

Being cynical, snarky and quick wins arguments.

Joey Potter, the queen of cynicism and witty comebacks taught us that words hurt like knives and always, always win fights. It didn’t matter who she was up against or even if she was right, Joey put others in their place and crushed what little hope they had of proving her wrong. Dawson was a constant contender, going up against Potter with the idea that happy endings and true love existed, but she quickly shut him down, explaining that happy endings didn’t exist except in his movies. Jen was a tough competitor against the Potter wit, but Joey quickly reminded her that she was a city girl and former harlot who couldn’t stand a chance against her relationship with Dawson. Luckily, Jen got the picture and moved on pretty quickly.

The list of lessons from Dawson’s Creek could go on; each character could have given us something to hold onto. Although the show is no longer with us, its early morning reruns and seasons listed on Netflix can still be viewed as a guide to letting our inner ‘angsty’ teen out.

 

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I am an undergraduate student at Syracuse University, studying magazine journalism in The Newhouse School. I love discussing music and movies as well as capturing street art and unique fashion styles.

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