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Dawson's Creek characters: Mitch Leery
posted by Paul on 2/25/01


The Dads of television are a breed onto themselves. Conrad Bain somehow resisted the urge to strangle his annoying dwarf; Mike Brady knew everything and produced three ugly sons, proving he didn't know safe sex; and John Lithgow is a Martian ( if I watched that show, I'd know for sure).

My favorite TV dad right now is Mitch Leery of "Dawson's Creek". I caught the "Dawson's Creek" bug early on. In fact, I saw the very first show and continued from there. Dawson was working in a video shop and expounding on the work of Steven Spielberg; Pacey was sporting an afro and sleeping with his teacher; Katie Holmes/Joey was firing back sarcastic one-liners about meaningless crap, in lieu of an established character. It's cliched, it features thirty year olds who're supposed to represent adolescents and it can become a little too soppy at times, but how can you NOT love it?

The characters talk like they're lecturing social anthropology. The settings are picturesque. And every social group is represented. You have the deep, dorky loverboy, the cocky rebel, the slut, the virgin, the gay guy and...

TV's most right on Dad!

Mitch Leery is a wonderful man. The Jimmy Stewart of Capeside, the afro-less Mike Brady for the Pepsi crowd. Mitch is so calm, and so polite you'd think he's on some sort of bizarre drug - the sort which gives you the answer to all of life's problems . He's perpetually stoned, his expression barely changing. Except when he hears some good news. Like Dawson and his freakishly large head saving a boat-full of people from certain death. Or hearing that his wife and her freakishly large head are carrying his spawn - with, undoubtedly, a freakishly large head. You have to feel pity for Gail Leery. Not only does she have to mollycoddle a ghastly adolescent, she also has to squeeze obscenely large objects between her legs. Dawson's head has a credit on the show's opening titles.

It needs its own trailer.

The funny thing about TV Dads is that they seem to be in all the right places at all the right times. If Dawson is having one of his mandatory life crises ( e.g someone pointing out his shitty film-making ability ), Mitch is always near-by to lend a supportive voice. It's usually bargain basement psychology, which, if Dawson had any commonsense at all, he'd be able to figure out for himself. But Dawson doesn't have any sense. Here's a guy who has Katie Holmes on his bed and all he can think about is watching "E.T". I love movies as much as the next guy at the popcorn stand, but I assure you that if Katie was spread-eagled on my bed, the pause button would be pressed and a discussion of cinematic genre would be put on hold. The girl is too beautiful to ignore.

My job as a dad isn't to give you the whole picture, because the truth is, I can't see it myself. My job is to help you and maybe give you a piece of the puzzle every now and then

That's simple commonsense, right? It must be hard for Mitch to have a son with a middle-aged bookworm's sensibilities. It would be difficult not to throttle Dawson, occasionally slapping his face, screaming "Look at the bigger picture, you fruit!". Not once does Mitch try to instill a sense of being a teenager in Dawson and is happy that Dawson mopes around the house with his disturbing delusions of cinematic grandeur. That's an irony in itself, because Mitch has the sexual tendancies of a rabbit. 90% of his screen time has been occupied with him fondling his willing wife. The other 10% consists of him sighing deeply and trying to beat a sense of perspective into Dawson's Rocky Dennis-like cranium.

Got big head?

Mitch is a great philosopher, who, if he wasn't so busy boning his wife, would be firing out cynical self-help books. It's funny how he knows all the answers, yet his own marriage is a rollercoaster and he had unprotected sex with his wife - producing another hideous do-gooder. As Mitch once said "Any worthwhile relationship has to endure some conflict". Jesus, ANY human could spout that shit. It's as obvious as saying "we're all going to die someday". Big heads and low originality must run in the Leery household. I guess it's like those Roman statues with the huge bodies and the tiny genitals. The Leerys are the intellectual equivalent of those.

The amount of time Mitch spends loitering is also concerning. He does three things and three things only in this show.

1) Lark around with Gail, or, if they split, lark around with some other bimbo.

2) Offer sage advice, which even pre-schoolers would know.

3) Appear from the shadows.

If Dawson is in his bedroom moping, and he usually is, Mitch will usually loiter around and offer Dawson some boneheaded advice. I think it's called bonding. Dawson and Mitch sit on the dock of the bay, go on fishing trips occasionally and talk about life. The antithesis of Pacey's loveless relationship with his dad. Dawson is probably the one who should be offering the advice. After all, Mitch is overly concerned with other people's problems and has an obvious difficulty keeping little Mitch in his trunks. Dawson, on the other hand, spurns almost every female advance, detests dance music and likes to paint. Who sounds younger?

Your future, your expectations, they belong to you. Don't let anybody stand in the way

Again, like most TV Dads, Mitch is a pillar of the community. One minute he's buying a restaurant with Gail, the next he's coaching the high-school football team. Fair enough, you might think. However, there was no prior indication that Mitch was even interested in football. Not only that, but being a deep-voiced know-it-all and being the new John Madden are two entirely different things. And now he is the school's guidance counsellor, where he imparts knowledge to the directionless. Of course, that meant he had to have a sit-down with Pacey, where he discovered that Pacey was flunking, and asked Dawson to intervene. Let's just say that ever since Pacey, the Han Solo to Dawson's Luke Skywalker, started doing fluid exchanges with Joey/Katie Holmes, Dawson and Pacey's relationship has been just a tad tense. Mitch tried to patch things up, but that didn't go to plan. Mostly because he sits on the fence so much his ass is made of wood. His son had his heart broken, and Mitch didn't even have a word to say to Pacey OR Joey. Nor did he necessarily agree with Dawson's feelings.

There was absolutely no indication that Mitch was qualified to work in a school. In real life, that would require degrees and prior job experience. In "Dawson's Creek", it requires talking about karma and "finding your purpose" until you've run out of cliches to spout.

Who could forget this Dawson-Mitch exchange?

DAWSON: Dad, can you hand me a soda?

MITCH: Is there something wrong, Dawson?

DAWSON: No, why do you ask that?

MITCH: A father knows these things, son. I was also doing a little investigating and I discovered you and Pacey nearly came to blows today. Is that's what's bothering you?

DAWSON: No, I just want a soda.

MITCH: There's a well-known parable. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. I can't be fooled. I know you too well. I see the sadness but I also see that you have to do it your own way.

DAWSON: Dad? Soda.

MITCH: I think it's about time you stopped being such a pussy, son. I'm really not that proud of you. Do you know how shameful it is to have such a dorky son? I think I could live with having a gay son like Jack, because at least he has a scrotum.

DAWSON: Dad, your tone is reminiscent of Potter's in " It's a Wonderful Life ". Your Orwellian complexities are a constant bewilderment to me. I live my life differently to the societal conception of teenager-hood and I'd rather be Spielbergian than some smooth-talking Jock parasite. I'm just disappointed that you don't see the benefit of my disposition.

MITCH: What?

DAWSON: Give me a fucking soda. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough having a head this size, they make me read this shit. They even made me turn down sex with a creamy Ali Larter in "Varsity Blues"....

Ok, so that never actually happened, but it's not a million miles away from the typical episode of DC ( sans gratuitous swearing ). And, let's face it, without bulky moralists like Mitch, teen melodrama would be redundant. Without guys like Mitch, life would be redundant.

Husband. Father. Vendor of shitty advice.

Hero?

Paul
paul@whatever-dude.com