Alongside Dawson's Creek

Rev. 27-Feb-1998
Chaz Boston Baden,

Warning! Contains spoilers! If you haven't seen every episode aired, this page will give away big chunks of character development. You Have Been Warned.

From Here to Maturity

Some folks might say that this show could be subtitled "Attack of the Raging Hormones." Sure, all four kids have hit puberty, and puberty is hitting back. That's easy. They're all at different stages in their sexual development. That's obvious too. But how are they shaping up in general maturity? Here's my stab at lining them up.


Dawson is clearly the Peter Pan of the bunch. He's way at the bottom of the maturity ladder. He sees everything through rose-colored glasses. Granted, in Carnal Knowledge he was figuratively smacked upside the head with reality, or some of it anyway, with revelations about Mom (kissing Bob at work), Jen (her shady past), Pacey (when he kissed the teacher), and Joey (didn't tell Dawson about Mom). But the following week in Blown Away he sits out a storm with the whole bunch (how convenient that Gramps was in the hospital for just the right week), and eventually apologizes to at least two of the three ladies he's gotten all righteous towards. But those apology speeches were awfully eloquent. Either Dawson is just naturally lyrical, and the show's writers did it for that reason; or, perhaps, Dawson is reciting a magic incantation he adapted from one of his favorite movies. Oh, he said the right words, certainly, and mended the rifts with Jen and Joey; but does he really get it, or is he just forgiving Joey and Jen for disappointing him and trying to "move on" to back where they were before? My money's on Dawson having more growing up ahead of him - lots more.

Footnote, as long as we're talking about Dawson: I understand Kevin Williamson, creator of the show had a childhood similar to Dawson, amateur film-maker and all. Makes you wonder how much of the storyline is drawn from his high school days, eh?


Up until Dirty Dancing Dawson and Pacey were both virgins, so it seems obvious to group 'em together. (See also "Conquering Virgins" for another thought on that parallel.) Not just from a sexual viewpoint, but from experience with romantic relationships with or without the sex. They both have immature attitudes about the opposite sex. (Not too surprising at 15, of course.) Pacey thinks that getting it on will solve his problems, or at least he's not willing to look at the problems it creates. (Pacey also has deeper troubles; see "The Dark Side".) Anyhow, I have to put Pacey ever so slightly ahead of Dawson on the maturity scale, but it's neck-and-neck; this could easily change from one episode to the next.


I expect Joey to be everyone's favorite character. Certainly she's my favorite, and my stepdaughter's. Solid, dependable, spunky, knowledgeable, a healthy dose of the cynic in her - while still staying a romantic. In Carnal Knowledge her comment about "don't ask me, I'd probably be willing to wait forever" serves to throw out a clue to everyone who didn't figure out in Emotions in Motion (the pilot episode) or Dirty Dancing that Joey was carrying a torch for her ol' childhood chum.

But she's certainly had enough opportunities to show off her immaturity. Her deceit in A Prelude to a Kiss when trying to pretend to Anderson (the rich boy from the city) that she's his kind of gal made it clear, as did her jealous outburst in Emotions in Motion. In both cases she's letting her emotions rule her destiny, and fate takes her in an embarassing direction.

Maria's convinced that Joey's the most mature one of the bunch, and doesn't take kindly to my voting for Joey's sister Bessie. (grin) I guess it's just as well I didn't bring up the remarkably fair treatment of Dawson at the hands of Cliff, the quarterback. (And the abysmal dog-in-the-manger behavior of Nellie, the producer of the class project movie speaks for itself. Will we be seeing more of them, and will she mature over time as well?)

At first I thought the show was really about Joey watching her friends grow up, and that Joey would take a back seat to the antics front-and-center of the rest of them. But that didn't last for more than the first episode; she's in with the rest of them, for better or for worse.


(It is Jennifer, right? Everyone calls her Jen. What's her full name?)

Jennifer, world-wise and world-weary, has come to Capeside to make a fresh start. She lied about her grandfather - possibly we can lump this in the "Little White Lie" category, because it concealed her past. (Yikes, a father who sends her away? Here's a girl who needs some good role models in her life.) And I'm not convinced we've heard the whole story. Getting caught in your folks' bedroom partying is pretty bad, sure, the booze and the sex really make a distressing picture, but is that enough to warrant uprooting her out of school? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but Grandma's comment about "children raising children" in Blown Away makes me think that not all the pregnancy scares in Jen's past were false alarms.

I don't really have a conclusion here

I'm not even done writing down everything I want to say, but I want to move on. Most of what I'd like to say about each character's development is in their relationships with the other characters, so let's start talking about the parallel arcs in the story. (For those of you new to tv writing, "story arc" is the term used to talk about a piece of a story, usually "arcing" over two or more episodes. I'm using it here to talk about any kind of plotlet, even things that come and go in the same episode.)

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