Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. We’ll stop in Capeside, Massachusetts, a small town that doesn’t have much except a high school, a dock, and a quaint little B&B. That’s right, we go back to the set of Dawson Creek, the series that picked up The WB from 1998 to 2003. The show, oozing with teenage angst, was a coming-of-age tale about Dawson and a group of his misfit friends. As it all boiled down to Dawson and his overly naive character, the show also looked at the unstable and complicated lives of characters like Joey, Pacey, Andy, Jen, and Jack. Like most teen dramas, Dawson Creek covered topics like divorce, alcohol, sex, first love, sexual orientation, dreams and of course more sex.
Although the show ended what may seem like a lifetime ago, the lessons that came out of it have surprisingly stayed with us. Here are the main lessons I learned from Dawson Creek.
Everyone needs an authority figure.
Where were the parents? It seemed like there were never adults where you needed them. There were Dawson’s parents, but they only seemed to show up when they loved or hated each other during their divorce. Ideally, they never showed up at the unusual sleepovers that were going on in Dawson’s bedroom, or the late nights in town. Grams was another prominent adult figure. She was very conservative and steadfast in her Christian beliefs, yet her wisdom never made it out of her house. Finally, there was Joey’s dad, but there’s not much to say because after his release from prison he went straight back to the slammer for selling more drugs. With the knowledge of what the kids in Capeside were doing, maybe the show taught us to watch our teens better.
Whenever you are in a love triangle, always choose the second person
The infamous Dawson, Pacey, and Joey love triangle intrigued audiences throughout the series. Would Joey choose Dawson, the boy she loved from childhood, who had a naive view of the real world? Or would she go for Pacey, the screwed-up big-hearted guy who has a knack for saving girls more fucked up than him? As the three struggled to decide who would be together, it was pretty clear what audiences were supposed to get out of this predicament: Always go for the second choice.
I think there is a saying that goes, “If you are in love with two people, choose the second person, because if the first was enough, you wouldn’t have to search again.” The DPJ love triangle taught us that! During the first season, Joey and Dawson analyzed what to do about their relationship. At one point, they realized they were soul mates, but as easily as they understood, Joey fell into Pacey’s arms. While the term ‘soul mates’ means something completely different when you’re in high school, the fact that it didn’t even last the following season meant that Joey and Dawson were never a good match. Therefore, we have learned that if you cannot get it with the first person, then go for the backup.
I don’t take a line from Nike and encourage anyone to train (well, not fully). I’m referring to the subject that flawlessly always came up in the following season, sex. The characters were constantly talking about sex, who did it, when was the right time, who was the right person? Now these are all great and appropriate questions for sixteen year olds, but over-analyzing the situation just made you want to yell at the TV screen and say, “Could you do this already?” “
In this case, the show taught us to be like Pacey when he was a teacher after the school bell rang or like Jen, before she moved in with Grams. While Jen and Pacey had insecurity issues that fueled their sexual ambitions, the two gave us less talk and more action. They just let their hormones and their feelings lead the way. So the lesson here is not just to do it, but also to stop talking about it. That’s not to say doing it with just anyone who wants to – everything comes at a price, but let’s just say you can worry about the consequences in the morning.
During the scan kills.
Among the top 100 things that kill are second-hand smoke, car crash death, and over-analysis. And if the show had continued for two more seasons, I guarantee most, if not all of the characters would have died. I mean they analyzed their relationships, their goals, their appearances and their personalities. Yes, everyone thinks about these things and tries to find ways to be better, but the over-analysis that made it possible to understand what it meant to have Spielberg posters plastered on the walls of the rooms was just plain wrong. ridiculous.
In this particular incident, Dawson took down his movie posters in an attempt to find other interests he had. After removing them, he was tricked into believing that he no longer knew who he was. This is what I am talking about. When I rummage through my closet at the end of a season and throw away some old clothes, including my favorite sweater that I wore every day, do I now forget who I am? Excessive analysis of this situation would lead me to the conclusion that to get rid of this sweater was to throw away a piece of my identity. But in reality the sweater was old and had pizza stains and a hole in the side. To avoid incidents like this and the ones Dawson and his friends have had, it is clear that one should not over-analyze.
Be cynical, sarcastic, and quickly gain arguments.
Joey Potter, the queen of cynicism and witty comeback, taught us that words hurt like knives and that they always and always win fights. No matter who she was up against or even if she was right, Joey put the others in their place and shattered any hope they had of proving her wrong. Dawson was a constant contender, confronting Potter with the idea that happy endings and true love existed, but she quickly shut it down, explaining that happy endings didn’t exist except in his films. Jen was a tough competitor against the Potter Spirit, but Joey quickly reminded her that she was a town girl and a former prostitute who had no chance against her relationship with Dawson. Luckily Jen got the hang of it and moved on fairly quickly.
The list of lessons from Dawson Creek could continue; each character could have given us something to hold onto. While the show is no longer with us, its morning reruns and seasons listed on Netflix can still be taken as a guide to letting our ‘distressed’ inner teenager out.