Ever since I saw The Baxter I have been inexplicably and stupidly enamored with a woman half my age and way out of my league: Michelle Williams. I have all her movies and periodically stare at the latest publicity photos from the red carpet of the week. My unnatural attraction to Michelle is, of course, straight out of La Vita Nuova but it’s good to have a heavy dose of unrequited love in your old age (didn’t Aristotle or Plato have something to say about that, or was it George Burns?).
But Michelle Williams is not actually the subject of this observation, even though it was the discovery that she had been a central cast member of a reasonably successful television show that ran for six years on one of the secondary networks spanning what was affectionately referred to as Y2K (which is perhaps best forgotten as one the the major boom and fizzles in recent years). Even my daughter can’t believe it but I watched every episode of Dawson’s Creek (all 128 of them) just to watch Michelle Williams grow up. Now that it is over, even I can’t believe I could sit through all that teenage angst, social commentary, and sex (actually it was a strange combination of avoiding sex whenever possible but after a while stopping to tally-up all the combinations of characters in and out of the bed).
Rather than critique this night-time soap, I just thought I would make a couple of notes and observations.
First, the characters were all engaging and the producers moved some of the secondary characters in and out of the narrative before they could screw up the gyrating love lives of the four main characters. By my account, Pacey didn’t sleep with Jen … but all other women in the story were hardly safe (except Gram). Simply put, the dalliance involved Joey (the ex Mrs. Tom Cruise) bouncing from one friend to another with a stranger or two brought in for short-lived tension.
I didn’t feel the sex was excessive but there was far too much not-sex being practiced. One plot line was that Joey goes off with Pacey on a summer long cruise to Florida and back to the Cape, and despite being a loving-couple and smooching constantly, they never had sex. Let’s think about that: two 17 year olds with a normal supply of hormones live and sleep on a small sailboat for three months and nothing happens?
This brings up the other unbelievable element of the narrative: no matter who or when or why, the operative dialogue never goes too far before one of the characters says, “Do You Want To Talk About It?” I suppose this represents healthy, well-adjusted young people engaging in cathartic conversation to enrich their lives and solidify their relationships. Problem is, in the next scene one of the participates in the colloquy inevitably misinterprets a word or an action and jumps to a conclusion blowing it all out of proportion and rushing off to sulk on the end of a finger-dock. A few times in the six-years of Dawson’s Creek they let Pacey bust his antagonist in the jaw, thankfully avoiding yet-another heart-to-heart conversation.
The fun thing about the story was that it was self-referential and even ended with the completion of Dawson’s television show based on the real-lives of the fictional characters from Dawson’s Creek. Along the way the show’s creator, who based the scripts on his own experience growing up with his friends, took some welcome shots at the inanity of his own story. There were times when only the actors were concentrating on making the episode seem real and not just an artifact of the writer’s mind.
Oh, Pacey ends up with Joey and Jen dies in the end.
Worth 128 hours of my life watching an old television teenage drama? Well, there was always Michelle Williams …