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Dawson's Creek characters: Dawson Leery

posted by Dave and Paul on 6/18/02

Dawson and his mystical creek has been an enduring success in American popular culture. What started as a biography about small-town life starring a big-foreheaded, movie-obsessed "boy" has etched itself a cosy place in the televisual history books - or, at the very least, fair coverage in the glossy gossip rags. Whereas other teen-inspired fodder, such as Popular and Roswell, have perished due to lack of distinctiveness or zip, Dawson's Creek has held strong. Like 90210 before it, it has joined the cult ranks, and enjoys sizeable crossover appeal - there isn't a demographic it has overlooked.

More notable than the characters' unrealistic pop-babble, however, is how the show has shifted its initial focus from Dawson Leery, son of Mitch, to his more colorful friends - sharp Pacey, gay Jack, virginal Joey and slutcake Jen. They have essentially plucked the attention from Dawson's dreary struggle for artistic acceptance and not getting laid to their own dreary struggle for acceptance and getting laid. Just like on the internet, nobody accepts themselves and no-one gets laid! At first, the show was more about coming-of-age and small-town innocence than hip adolescense and dire conflict. It had likeable characters and simplistic plots. Sadly, due to Hollywood input and the usual pitfalls of network television, annoying characters and "racy" plotlines have been unnecessarily thrown into the mix. Rather than maintaining a mildly successful formula, execs figured it was better to just throw a thousand cliches at the wall and hope that a few might work. As such, few outside the original core of stock characters have really taken off, or offered more than a distraction. They've tested every stereotype in the big book of "cliche characters": from dweeby, caddish, and world-wise to screechy and camp. The black school principal disappeared almost as quickly as Joey's lechy "Professor Perv" is likely to be expelled. And whatever happened to Drew Valentine?

Alarmingly, the show has charted the characters' arcs very well. Because it's a naturally character-driven show, we've been able to see their development. Every character but Dawson has progressed, developed and evolved from their initial status. Yet, Dawson is still stuck in a time-warp of bad fashion, self-pity and general stagnation. Compare that to the development of Jack, who started as the confused gay guy, the self-accepting gay guy to the bitter gay guy, to Lord Frat. That's what you call "moving forward". Dawson started out as a whiner who wanted to direct to a whiner who directed badly. Along the way, his annoying self-obsession and failure to move forward basically destroyed every relationship he ever had. In the Dawson universe, the past not only has the ability to haunt you, it's something from which you cannot possibly hope to escape. Not that it helps that no matter where you go, which college you apply to, which restaurant or city you frequent, the same people you knew five years ago will conveniently appear.

Every cultural group is favorably represented, but what does Dawson himself represent? How could you begin to profile this most complex young man? Is he even complex or, judging by his weary appearance and broad vocab, young? For someone who has shunned every sexual advance thrown his way and failed to grasp his own identity, Dawson seems to have an opinion on everything. With a forehead so large, how can we even begin to delve into his inner thoughts?

Dawson Leery, all-American goodguy and dull do-gooder, has been stealing teenage hearts since we first saw him sailing down the beloved creek all those years ago. I'm undecided on whether Dawson is the quintessential daydream believer, representing the quest for the American Dream, or a nerd whose obsession with all things Spielberg warrants some psychiatric attention. When the show first started, his two closest (only) friends were Pacey and Joey; his Mom was shacking up with her work colleague and singlehandedly destroying Dawson's sense of inner yin. We learned quickly that Dawson was only happy when his parents were happy. You could give him a million dollars, a movie contract and offers of twenty complimentary sex acts and he'd still piss and moan. Paradoxically, you could publically humiliate him, steal his E.T memorabilia and throw him in the Creek, and he'd still be grinning like a big pussy - as long as his parents were living the facade of happy families.

To be a great lover is like being a great father, and I do both so effortlessly. It's not only in the heart, it's in the trousers. Let's nookie quickly, so I can spend some quality father-son time with my whiny son!

Dawson's co-dependence and selfishness is so damning that when his parents separated and Mitchy rightly wanted to put it about a bit - since every human deserves some hot Leery pork - Dawson conspired to jeopardize the whole deal. He even went to the trouble of reuniting his parents, even though neither were particularly keen for a reconciliation. Like a bad "Saved By The Bell" episode (and let's be honest, they could never be classified as great television) Dawson planned one of those lame "two people unconsciously meeting up for a date" deals. You've seen these scenarios countless times. If this was some cute "Parent Trap" chicanery, the audience would ooh and aah and get all weepy. The sentiment would certainly be appealing. Being that it's a broody teenage boy with an inappropriate sense of authority, the sentiment is frightening. That's compounded by the fact that instead of getting his own life in order, he sees fit to meddle in other's. So, Dawson got his wish and his parents rekindled their love. They even had a little baby, which like Dawson, drooled and cried a lot and caused unnecessary strife. Interestingly, for all his badgering about family values, Dawson didn't help his parents in any significant way with his younger sibling. No, this overgrown baby actually got pissy because he realized that all the attention would be averted from him.

Throughout the show, Dawson's lack of fun and interest has sucked the life out of him and anyone else unfortunate to share his company. He's the ultimate killjoy, bemoaning anything that gives anyone else pleasure. Sex before marriage is bad! You should only have sex if feelings are involved! Alcohol is evil! It's wrong to have impure thoughts! Grandad Dawson is the half-empty guy, shunning anything vaguely "fun" or raunchy. So, even despite a gorgeous girl sitting on his bed and paddling up his creek, he'll miss the come-ons and settle for watching a movie. If a babe spread them in front of Dawson, he'd probably start crying. Dawson would rather talk about life than actually live. As such, he comes across as a bore who can't let loose. I'm not saying that you should always ram the dick in the mashed potatoes, but the concept of having/showing a fun side is something that might make the Dawson character more tolerable. One time he went to a rave and stood around looking like he was having an epileptic fit. No, wait, that was his attempt at dancing. Of course, it didn't help that he was so poorly dressed. An unfashionable gay guy who can't dance? Has such a creature ever existed?! That said, it's probably a good idea that Dawson steer clear of alcohol. The last time he had a tipple, it turned him into an even bigger retard than he is already.

Dawson's dad was, not just chiselled blandness, but the perfect dad - fiercely masculine and deeply sensitive. The guy was a hard act for any son to follow and when his love of ice-cream led to his death, Dawson's world literally went to pieces. Actually, it gave him a good excuse to continue whining. Before that, he whined when everything was going his way anyway. Now with the only person who endorsed his greeting card lifestyle out of the picture, he naturally had reason to gripe. The real reason his dad was written out of the show was because he and James Van Der Beek (who plays Dawson) had started a gay affair, which if leaked, threatened the future of the show. We can't have teenage girls thinking that a character who essentially lacks fully functioning testicles or heterosexuality might be played by, gasp, a switch-hitter! It'd be like suggesting someone like Tom Cruise was, I tremble even writing it, GAY! How awful and unsubstantiated!

During the course of the show, Dawson's aversion to intercourse has been legendary. His poo-pooing more or less handed Joey to the more virile, capable Pacey, someone who didn't need a manual on how to treat a member of the opposite sex; then, of course, he turned down a bevy of beauties with increasingly lame excuses - hmm, that approach will only work for so long, before someone gets wise to your "little" problem or your preference for cock. No-one has morals these days, and certainly not someone spawned by Mitch Leery. The irony is that when he finally did pop his cherry, it was with the show's trademark slut, and the least attractive female on the show. So much for morals, eh? There is clear evidence that the guy bats for the home team. Let's not forget his scary obsession with Mr Brooks, the slimy old director Dawson used to follow around. It wouln't surprise me if Dawson had to suck some serious dick to get the gig of documenting Brooks' life. And don't let the fact that he seems to prefer females deter you. After all, even gay Jack had brief flings with Joey and Jen. In a heterosexual head-to-head, "party guy" Jack destroys watery Dawson. Watching Dawson is like watching a hearty breakfast. You're just waiting for the sausage to come out.

Dawson did finally meet with a shrink, but rather than discussing his closeted feelings or failure to loosen up, he dwelled on the loss of his dad. I would have thought a couch meeting would have been an ideal opportunity to unload. But that's the annoying thing about Dawson. He'd rather not get help, because having complaints isn't a condition that plagues him... it IS him. You'd imagine that someone with so much "insight" would realize that life is something to enjoy. The dynamic of Dawson Leery is in showing that even if the world is your proverbial oyster, sitting around and bitching is the true downfall of the human condition.


Hi.. and welcome to my profile.

Poor James Van Der Beek. Here he was, fresh off of a pretty decent performance playing the asshole, Rick Sandford in Angus, when he sold his soul to the devil of unrealistic teenage dialogue that is Kevin Williamson and signed on for the starring role of Dawson Leery on Dawson's Creek. From the first episode, it was just soooo easy to despise Dawson. Here you just had your typical, self-absorbed upper middle class teenager, who's biggest dilemma in life was pining for new girl in town, Jen Lindley, while trying to come to terms with the fact that he and his childhood best friend, Joey Potter, were growing older. Of course, it was obvious to anybody with external genitalia, that instead of lusting after the new girl in town… Dawson should've been just flat out banging the everloving shit out of Miss Potter, instead of letting her climb out his window and down the ladder.

It was during the first season of Dawson's Creek that Dawson pretty much established himself as one of the most annoying characters on network television. He was just the epitome of everything that's wrong with know-it-all teenagers today. Instead of just going out and having fun, Dawson felt it necessary to go off on existential soliloquies as if he was a modern day Hamlet:

"To be with Joey, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sneak over Gramms' house to see Jen…"

In the first season, Dawson's mother cheated on his father, thus causing them to separate and begin proceedings on getting a divorce.. and by his self-absorbed, crying, "woe is me" reaction, you just wanted to grab the kid, drive him to South Boston, kick his ass outta the car… scream "Larry Bird sucks!!" and then drive off. I think the people coming out of their homes would've shown Dawson what it's like to have something to "cry" about.

I understand that Kevin Williamson, an openly gay man, created Dawson's Creek as a semi-autobiographical homage to his childhood… so he should have just went all the way and made the lead character of Dawson, a homosexual. Instead, throughout the years, we have seen Dawson find new and inventive ways to keep from having sex with a female, despite some gimmes. We've also seen him become one of the backburner characters on a show bearing his name in the title.

At the end of Season One, Dawson wisely came around and did what viewers had known he should do from day one… get together romantically with Joey. Of course, after a summer of bliss, Dawson managed to bungle their relationship, by freaking out on her for not taking him seriously as a director, after she agreed with the judges that his B-horror movie didn't deserve to win the contest he entered it in. Just cause he has Spielberg movie posters plastered on his walls and access to a video camera, Dawson's under the impression that he's Tarantino and Scorcese rolled into one. Too bad he's really more like Brandon Walsh and Patrick Swayze combined… seventeen going on sixty five years old, with a huge melon-head.

His flipping out sent Joey into the arms of Jack McPhee (who actually did turn out to be gay).. This caused Dawson to do what any rational human being would do.. He wrote and directed a movie based on the whole story of his relationship with Joey and filmed it at Capeside High for everyone to witness. This made Joey realize that Dawson wasn't just a whiny dork.. but he was also borderline psychotic. Way to go D. What's next? Writing a ten part article on a website about a wedding party that they had to be in together? Sheesh. Fucking loser.

The next season saw Dawson get together with Pacey's older sister, Gretchen… and the two of them had a scorching love affair. Actually, that's not true at all. The only thing "scorching" about these two would be the scorching case of gonnohrea I'd rather have than to have to sit through an episode revolving around their boring relationship. Sadly enough, I sat through quite a few of these very episodes and even took the time and effort to write down notes while watching them… and then proceeded to do episode reviews. So the least you can do is humor me and check one out: OLD SCHOOL!!!1

Of course, Dawson still pining over Joey (who had spent the year actually having a good time with Dawson's old buddy, Pacey. By "good time", I mean "DOING IT". Rowrr!!) never closed the deal with Gretchen… and he prepared to embark on his long awaited journey off to film school at USC. He was having some trouble adjusting to life on the West Coast and he returned home to Capeside.. only to be told to get his ass back to school by his father, Mitch.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, Mitch learned a very hard lesson… Don't eat ice cream and drive. You'll only end up getting killed in a car accident after the ice cream falls out of your cone while you're driving. No, seriously. Mitch got into a car accident because he took his eyes off the road to pick up his fallen ice cream. What was he gonna plop it backin the cone and eat it off the floor?? Just let it go, man. Just let it go.

Hey God.. I came as fast as I could.

Dawson took his father's death very hard, blaming himself. Luckily, only the viewers knew exactly why Mitch died so young. If Dawson knew about the ice cream, chances are he might've at least had a chuckle about it… How can you not laugh at such a moronic demise?

Dawson ended up moving back home to help his Mom out.. and along the way, he started dating Jen, who sympathetically took Dawson's virginity… just so he would stop crying about "losing" his father.. and start crowing about "losing" his virginity. Actually, he was still crying about losing his father regardless and his relationship with Jen was boring her to tears.. so she decided to break up with him. This of course, led Dawson to immediately revert back to pining over Joey.. and the last season ended with the obligatory "Will Dawson and Joey end up together at the beginning of next season?" plotline.

It's Dawson's absolute lack of growth over a four year span (insert "Well, his head has grown at least" joke here)… that has made Dawson's Creek an unwatchable shell of its former self. When the title character of the show is the least interesting, the most unlikable, and just flat out most annoying of the cast… it's not exactly a recipe for a bright future for a show. If DC is indeed a semi-autobiographical homage to writer Kevin Williamson's childhood… well then, it's nice to know that you can be a complete schmuck and still make some coin in the Hollywood game. But then again, we already knew that.

Dave - Oh, that's original. Is it a Picasso?

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