Help Me Out Here

Someone Convince Me That The Dawson’s Creek Teens Have Any Redeeming Qualities

Why are these kids talking like they read from a thesaurus every night?

Originally Published: 
Michelle Williams, James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes
Frank Ockenfels/Warner Bros Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

I was in high school when Dawson's Creek first aired, and admittedly, I didn't remember much about the classic '90s series over the years — except maybe Dawson's meme-worthy cry face. As a millennial, I have a soft spot for all things '90s, especially if it involves a Lilith Fair-inspired soundtrack. So, as the show turned 25 last year, I decided to take a trip back to Capeside and revisit Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and the gang.

For a refresher, the teen drama premiered in 1998, ran for six seasons, and starred some of the most famous people we still know today, including Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, and Joshua Jackson. The series chronicled the lives of wannabe filmmaker Dawson Leery (Van Der Beek), his best friend Joey (Holmes), close friend and slacker Pacey (Jackson), and new girl next door Jen (Williams).

Look, I'm not going to lie: I tried to watch all six seasons again, and I couldn't get through it. The thing about the show that bothered me back then still bothered me today, and that thing was/is Dawson, Joey, Pacey, and Jen.

They're all insufferable.

Well, after the first season, that is. Definitely after the second. Never mind that these high schoolers talk like they read from a thesaurus every night. The problem with these kids is that they have so many issues it almost makes Euphoria seem like The Facts of Life.

Throughout the entire series, they deal with inappropriate adult and child relationships, death, addiction, alcoholism, breakups, betrayal, pregnancy, sex, depression, death again, adultery, consent, coming out, abuse, bullying, divorce, being a little too obsessed with Spielberg — all set to the soothing tunes of '90s songstresses such as Sarah McLachlan and Sophie B. Hawkins.

It's not the fault of the actors, of course. They were doing what they could with what they had... which was characters scripted to be the human equivalent of wet socks, damp and annoying.


What can I say about Dawson Leery that's not been already said? He's a parentified only child who wears silk vests and talks too much. Not to mention, he's way too involved in his parents' sex life (talk about triangulation). He's so self-obsessed and entitled that when he quits college and moves to Boston, he's shocked that the real world doesn't roll out the red carpet for him.

Also, I don't know what's worse: admittedly jerking off to Katie Couric or doing it under a poster of Schindler's List? Oddly, that pretty much sums up the character of Dawson — a little bit of a try-hard who has mommy issues.


Here's the thing about Joey: She's secretly a mean girl. Seriously, she's an insecure, angry teenager who pouts and makes a lot of mean comments, especially when she doesn't get her way. Joey is a straight-up bully to Jen when she meets her, and she doesn't hesitate to show her distaste for Mrs. Leery when she learns about her affair. Let's not forget all the eye-rolling and snide comments she constantly makes.

Oh, and the self-pitying she does throughout the series is beyond. "Woe is me; Dawson doesn't like me!" "Woe is me; I'm a painter!" "Woe is me; I have to work with my sister at her restaurant!" "Woe is me; I'm not that pretty (even though I am)!"

And what is up with her finally dating Dawson, only to dump him?! And then she hooks up with his best friend, Pacey, and falls in love with him?!


Pacey had the potential to be the most likable character on the show, but I couldn't forget all those homophobic jokes he made about his brother, Doug. Anyway, yes, yes, Pacey was super supportive of his girlfriend, Andie, who struggled with mental health issues. And yes, he was always a dependable friend to Dawson, except, that is, when he falls for Joey, Dawson's soulmate.

Yet, Pacey dumps Joey because he doesn't think they'll work out in college. Jeez, that was a whole lot of drama for nothing! I mean, for such a smug guy — remember he banged his 30-something teacher? — he sure was rife with insecurity. He did have more emotional intelligence than anyone around him (which isn't saying much) despite coming from a family who didn't believe in him, so I guess that accounts for something. But the goatee in season six was definitely horrific.


Ah, poor Jen. She was the only one with a good head on her shoulders in Season 1. She was kind, honest, and true to herself, intent on building a new reputation from her "former bad girl" title in New York. Even when Joey was being such a b*tch to her, Jen remained a genuine friend.

Then, the sh*t hit the fan in Season 2. Dawson didn't know how to handle Jen's sexuality (which is a Dawson problem), and suddenly, she rebelled and was the bad girl again. Drinking, partying, and getting into trouble with Abby (the seemingly only other bad girl at school) became her biggest personality traits. Maybe that's why she never had a good storyline. From her grandfather and close friend dying to a drinking problem and constant bullying to never finding love, and then — spoiler— dying at the end of the show, Jen didn't have it easy.

Who was Jen? I have no clue. All I know is that she was constantly crying and complaining and feeling lost, and, really, can we blame her? So, maybe it's not so much that I found Jen's character to be insufferable but more so the circumstances with which the writers continued to pummel her. Either way, it sucked that her dying wish was for Joey to choose between Dawson and Pacey. I mean, that's her dying wish?! Sheesh.

So, yeah. Am I missing something? Do these characters have redeeming qualities that I'm overlooking? If you can change my mind, have at it. But for at least another 26 years... bye, Capeside!

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