Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Dawson’s Creek Revisited
Teen-dom is a well trodden path of bad fashion, hormone driven miss-judgments and awkward hair. It’s been that way for eons – these are the kind of mistakes that people have never stopped making. The Roman empire is about what happens when you wear togas (you look stupid), Romeo & Juliet is a giant warning on what occurs if you ignore your parents (Cliffs Note: you die), and the 80’s suggests what to expect when you insist on a perm (people pretend you didn’t happen at all).
My ill-communicated point is there are some universal experiences and lessons we all take away from the haze of miss-spent youth. There’s also one universal teacher each of us fell back on at one point or another. Television. And to each generation a program is born that comes to define what we expect from our school days.
For my older sisters it was 90210. To those that came after me it was The O.C. Currently I believe the young things are all about that Girl… who Gossips…
For me it was that bastion of ridiculous self-awareness and over-sized sweaters, Dawson’s Creek.
I’m not ashamed to say that show gave me almost all of my unrealistic expectations of teenage life – I assumed men would duel for my affection, I suspected (and my mother hoped) my tomboy ways were just a disguise for my ‘hidden beauty’, and could only dream that at 16 I to could suffer from an existential crisis. Of course, like all good teen soaps, its incestuous plot lines and the fact that they all had to leave school eventually, meant the show pretty much became a shadow of it’s former self before bowing out in a blaze of flash-forwarding glory.
But we few, we lucky few, we band of easily moved girls, still swoon at the concept of Dawson, Joey, Pacey and the gang.
A week ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I dove back in to the Creek. In one scene (season 4) 17 year old Dawson (with the 5 o’clock shadow of a man in his late 20’s) talks to his seasonal love interest, Pacey’s sister (this was when they started inventing new, thus far unseen relatives for the characters to expand the plotlines) and says:
At the risk of sounding trite, it’s good to see you.
I paused then and there and tried to figure out if I’d EVER used the word ‘trite’ in a conversation before. I had not. This came after Pacey, supposedly the dullest crayon in the casting box, delivered this piece of dialogue:
Just what would we be missing from the land of poorly scripted melodramas, huh? Recycled plot lines, tiresome self-realizations. You throw in the occasional downward spiral of a dear friend, and maybe a baby here and a death there and all you've really got is a recipe for some soul sucking, mind numbing ennui, and I for one could skip it.
Hilarious post-modern wink to the audience aside, I can honestly say I would actively avoid verbalizing the word ‘ennui’ simply out of fear I would miss-use it.
But aside from vocabulary intimidation, the belated realization that James Van Der Beek has a generously sized forehead, and the retrospective knowledge that Katie Holmes was cruising for a career highlight via marriage, I found myself sucked right back in to all things Dawsonian – it was like I never left.
I thought I should hide the dvd rental case from visitors, but upon seeing it all Sammy had to say was “You don’t need to rent it. I have the box set at home, just let me know what you need.”
It’s good to know I’m not the only one that just can’t seem to fully quit that show. How could you ever hate a program that allows a character in the 1st season finale to say:
Cliffhanger? Come on, Dawson. You of all people should know that a cliffhanger is merely a manipulative TV standard designed to improve ratings.
It can’t be denied, there is still wisdom to be found in such a show.