It had been years since I’d watched the entire Dawson’s Creek series—I was so traumatized after the farewell episode that the thought of having to go back and relive each agonizing moment with Jen, Dawson, Pacey, and Joey just seemed like too much to handle. The tears, the laughter, and the confusion I felt was still fresh in my mind. But, as a sucker for television shows drenched in angst, it didn’t take much convincing for me to spend my Saturday in Capeside again.
My love for Dawson’s Creek ran pretty thick when I was a preteen, and after re-watching the first season of the show in nearly one sitting, I’ve come to one solid conclusion: I was way too young back then to be watching it. It wasn’t just that this show fully condoned the creeping in and out of your male BFF’s bedroom window that felt too mature, nor was it the honest conversations about sex being tossed around like a hacky sack. After all, these scenes later became a pivotal part of the glue that held the series together. What it all came down to was the fact that I wouldn’t fully understand what these characters were going through until I actually turned 15. And, in true Dawson’s Creek fashion, it would be years before I realized even that.
And that wasn’t the only thing I noticed when I started re-watching. In fact, there were a plethora of moments that I had completely forgotten about, because, let’s be real: the strongest memories one has of Dawson’s Creek are Pacey, Joey, and the most romantic teen love story ever told. Before and after that is a bunch of mush. With that said, I welcome you take a walk down the creek with me and think back to some of those major moments from the beginning.
Jen would never look like this again
When Jen Lindley arrived on the scene, she was perfectly painted as the blonde bombshell from New York City who wore sweet floral dresses with a pastel cardigan to boot. Her hair was long and her makeup was natural and she glided effortlessly down the halls of Capeside High watching guys turn their heads one after the other. This Jen Lindley would never be seen again. After season one, Jen chops all her hair off, starts rocking leather, and is quickly seen as the party animal instead of the girl next door.
Joey Potter was at her sassiest
It is a well-known fact that little miss Potter has a sassy streak, and that when provoked, she will drop enough truth bombs to make your head spin—but honestly, none of those moments compare to her in season one. When the show started off, Joey was the school misfit with a father in jail and a sister pregnant out of wedlock. You can imagine how wound up she must have been. I learned to soak up all the moments Joey put her sassy ‘tude on attack, and although she isn’t quite as abrasive in the following seasons, her sarcastic nature remained fully intact.
The adults are just as—if not more—dramatic as the teens
I’ve always felt as though the adult storylines in Dawson’s Creek were well-written and gave some otherwise one-dimensional characters some depth, but whoa stuff got deep in season one. Between constant battles of religion between Jen and Grams and the intense uncovering of Dawson’s mom’s affair, you begin to wonder exactly what demographic this show was geared towards. The conversations between Dawson’s parents, Mitch and Gail, were so very real, and seeing them play out years later reminded me of just how sensitive a teenager’s heart is to family feuding. Heavy stuff.
The vocabulary was before its time
The show is well known for its off the charts dialogue and was often mocked for it—for good reason. No teen actually talked like this, but I was definitely spewing a bunch of words at 15 that I hardly understood, too (and I still felt sooo cool). Hearing it play out all over again with a new understanding of the context made me a laugh a little thinking I was so suave back then. (I wasn’t.)
The beginning of Pacey and Joey
Sure, these friends-become-lovers didn’t begin their stint until season three, but in the first season there were subtle hints all over the place that Pacey and Joey had a future in romance. If you recall, the two most unlikely to swoon were assigned to complete a credit for a biology project together that had Pacey falling for Potter’s charms He ultimately even asked Dawson for permission to kiss his best friend (he said no). It was all so innocent back then—if only he knew where one kiss would truly lead him and how it would define the rest of the series in its entirety!
I guess in the end it all comes down to one very simple thing: Dawson’s Creek was the ’90s poster child for the age of innocence. And, just like John Hughes before him, creator Kevin Williamson was really on to something. He fed the teenage soul in a way no Chicken Soup book ever could using raw emotion supercharged with sex, love, and anguish, and wrapped up in a perfectly complicated bow. And I for one can’t wait to keep reliving it all over again.