Exactly two years ago I wrote something about how spookily square kids in US teen dramas are, and how what passes for rebellion is rarely the stuff of true parental nightmares. Today I had another revelation about Dawson’s Creek which might have some people slapping their foreheads while emitting a “well, duh!” but whatever: all the kids on the show have exactly the same characters.
While there are superficial differences deep down the characters have identical motivations and desires which is making for increasingly tiresome viewing. Take Pacey and Dawson, one the hot-headed and aimless rebel, the other the calm and repressed romantic with a dream. In an argument both characters, like every other, will use overly articulate rhetoric before briefly showing their differences; Pacey will punch his way to the next ad-break while Dawson will probably just crease his vast brow further until he or his opponent storms off. After the adverts both will be annoyed to the same degree, about the same things, and before long will be brought around by the kooky smile of an interchangeable girl-unit or a sudden emergency that brings everyone back together.
The girls are the similarly identical, especially since the insane Andie departed. Jen, once apparently the rebel, is as anodyne as Joey, only in her case obsessed with slightly-alternative music rather than books. To replace her declining waywardness we’ve gained Audrey who does, admittedly, stand out slightly by being perky enough to cheer up the rest of the glum characters. But beneath that is she any different? In today’s episode she was given the chance to confirm her rebellious man-eating tendencies when Pacey asked her how many men she’d slept with. It turned out to be 27. No, tell a lie, she then admitted to 57! Could she really be one of the gang with such a past!? No need to panic however she was merely testing Pacey’s devotion and she’d only slept with around half-a-dozen, just like Pacey. Beneath the don’t-give-a-damn surface she only wants the same as everyone else.
The season’s bad boy is a heart-stealing student rock musician who two-timed Jen but is somehow still allowed to hang out with the gang. Today Joey complained that beneath this guy’s charming facade was a nasty piece of work; he’d offered to take her to the bathroom and do unspeakable things to her. A few minutes later however and he’d won his way back into her heart by… well, being just the same as everyone else. Joey was mistaken in thinking his crudity was the real him — it was just the facade hiding the identikit Dawson’s personality. The crazy film student guy (I can’t find a site with decent character lists) is the most different, and thus stands out a mile, but even he wants to be just like all the others, to date Jen, and if allowed to hang out enough will undoubtedly have his sharp corners smoothed and shined.
And so, now, it all seems blindingly obvious and not particularly revelatory. But I think this is why the show is becoming sadly more and more dull. It seems irrelevant which pair will be getting together and which will be separating this week because they’re just a collection of sexless clones randomly bumping off each other.