Dawson’s Creek available free on All 4: Why watch it?
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Does the cult teenage angst classic Dawson's Creek stand up to re-watching 20 years after it first aired?
I don't want to wait…to binge watch Dawson's Creek any longer. Which is handy, because All 4 has just released all 128 episodes to ensure that we'll be able to have an hormonal Christmas.
It's nearly 20 years since Dawson Leery and Pacey Witter took the first tentative steps towards forming a love triangle with their mutual friend Joey Potter which would drag the fans of Dawson's Creek through an emotional mangle on a weekly basis.
The show started in 1998 and is now available, in its entirety, on All 4: if you watch every episode back-to-back without a break it will take you five days and eight hour to make it from episode one to episode 128. I doubt even Ray Mears could manage it.
Dawson's Creek may have involved horrific hairstyles, questionable dancing and teenagers with vocabularies the size of the OED, but it could also leave you emotionally destroyed for hours after an episode. If you were wondering: that's a good thing.
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Joey's ladder, stonewashed denim, Miss Jacobs, Pacey giving Joey a wall, Steven Spielberg, The Boat House, the wisdom of Grams, death by ice-cream cone, Potters' B&B, Junior Prom, Senior Prom, 90s pop, tortured conversations about sex, regrettable burgundy coloured lipstick, lumberjack shirts, the wisdom of Bessie, Gail Leery's giant news anchor hair, virginity stigma and a boat called True Love: Dawson's Creek was the gift that kept on giving.
Just because it's unseemly to be this invested in fictional people doesn't mean I can help it, so don't judge me. Meanwhile, here are 10 compelling reasons to watch Dawson's Creek RIGHT NOW.
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1) The proliferation of hyper-articulate painfully self-aware teens: It may come as no surprise to you that I was a hyper-articulate painfully self-aware teen who spoke in multisyllabic words and was prone to navel-gazing bouts of self-analysis while lying in a darkened bedroom watching Jaws, like everyone on Dawson's Creek.
2) The power of Pacey: Dawson may have won the creek, but Pacey ruled the hormonal ocean for legions of fans who couldn't help but hold a candle for the show's bad boy (bad in comparison to Dawson, who was simply insufferable and creepily obsessed with who was and wasn't a virgin. Pacey simply set to work creating, er, un-virgins). Pacey has poetry in his soul and a boat which he's named True Love. Dawson has the worst hair in the universe and sings in jazz clubs. Joey made the right choice.
3) It was a groundbreaker: The episode True Love contained the first male gay kiss on American primetime television on May 24 2000. Shocking…but only because it took so long for the US to televise something so perfectly natural and normal.
4) Joey Potter singing On My Own from Les Miserables – long before Samantha Barks sang one of musical theatre's most stunning solos about unrequited love, Joey honked her way through it during a beauty pageant. A mesmerisingly terrible version of the official anthem of being stuck in the Friend Zone.
5) To offer romance goals to all teenage boys: It is possible to chart the exact moment that anyone sentient fell in love with Pacey – or wished they were him. While dancing, Pacey tells Joey that he likes her bracelet and, when she tells him that it was her late mother's, tells her the moment that she told him in an aside six months earlier. 'You remembered that?' she asks him, after an angsty dance filled with pain, Lynx and Impulse body spray, 'I remember everything,' he whispers, as hearts the world over shatter into a million pieces.
6) Dawson's crying face: In season three's finale, Dawson defines the phrase 'ugly-crying' when he tells Joey to go to Pacey. As she turns away from him to do just that, his face crumples in the world's best impression of someone crying like a cartoon character and then he doubles over in literal pain. This leads me to my favorite ever scene in Family Guy, a Dawson's Creek send-up where the characters sing: 'High School is a serious place…these problems matter…'
7) To see Jen being effortlessly cool: Played by Michelle Williams, Jen's cool quota is still riding high 20 years later. Perhaps it was because she was the only member of the cast who was actually high school age during filming (James Van Der Beek was 20, Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson were 19, Kerr Smith was 26 and Meredith Monroe was practically at pensionable age at 28.
8) Because Capeside was what we all thought being an American teenager was all about: I remember being utterly blown away that they all had their own phones in their own rooms. Remember those innocent days when a landline was a status symbol?
9) Dawson's Creek was ahead of the Stranger Things 'nod to other sources' game: Dawson's bedroom was filled with props from Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer – director Kevin Williamson made both – and there are plenty of Steven Spielberg references throughout.
10) For pearls of wisdom from Grams: 'What I have to say is not directed at you, Jen, what I have to say is for Tyson. If Jack is gay, he does not need your judgement, young man. The Lord above will judge him, as he will all of us. What he needs from you, from me, from everyone else in this world is love and tolerance. If anything, that boy is feeling scared and alone and he will need the understanding of his fellow man to help him through this. Let's save judgement for someone much more experienced than you.' Preach, Grandma.