|Created by||Kevin Williamson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||128|
|Production location(s)||Wilmington, North Carolina|
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original network||The WB|
|Original release||January 20, 1998 -|
May 14, 2003
|Related shows||Young Americans|
One Tree Hill
Dawson's Creek is an American teen drama television series about the fictional lives of a close-knit group of friends beginning in high school and continuing in college that ran from 1998 to 2003. The series stars James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery, Katie Holmes as his best friend and love interest Joey Potter, Joshua Jackson as their fellow best friend Pacey Witter, and Michelle Williams as Jen Lindley, a New York City transplant to the fictional town of Capeside, Massachusetts, where the series was set. The show was created by Kevin Williamson and debuted on The WB on January 20, 1998. It was produced by Columbia TriStar Television (renamed Sony Pictures Television before the sixth and final season) and was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The show placed at No. 90 on Entertainment Weekly "New TV Classics" list in 2007. The series ended on May 14, 2003. During the course of the series, 128 episodes of Dawson's Creek aired over six seasons.
|James Van Der Beek||Dawson Leery||Main|
|Katie Holmes||Joey Potter||Main|
|Michelle Williams||Jen Lindley||Main|
|Joshua Jackson||Pacey Witter||Main|
|Mary-Margaret Humes||Gail Leery||Main||Recurring|
|John Wesley Shipp||Mitch Leery||Main||Guest|
|Mary Beth Peil||Evelyn "Grams" Ryan||Main|
|Nina Repeta||Bessie Potter||Main||Recurring|
|Kerr Smith||Jack McPhee||Main|
|Meredith Monroe||Andie McPhee||Main||Guest|
|Sasha Alexander||Gretchen Witter||Main|
|Busy Philipps||Audrey Liddell||Main|
Following the selling of his spec script for Wes Craven-directed Scream (1996), film assistant Kevin Williamson was taking several meetings with film and television producers before the slasher film began production. In what would be his first television meeting, Williamson met executive Paul Stupin and, when asked if he had ideas for a television production, Williamson came up with the idea of a teen series based on his youth growing up near a North Carolina creek as an aspiring filmmaker who worshipped director Steven Spielberg. Stupin liked his idea and asked him to come back the next day and pitch it to Columbia TriStar Television studios, prompting Williamson to write a 20-page outline for Dawson's Creek that night. Williamson pitched the show "as Some Kind of Wonderful, meets Pump Up the Volume, meets James at 15, meets My So-Called Life, meets Little House on the Prairie", also taking inspiration from teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210 as he "wanted it to speak to the teenage audience of the day."
When Columbia requested him to relocate the show to Boston, Massachusetts, he settled with fictional Capeside, and pitched it to Fox. However, commissioned amid the struggling of Party of Five, Fox wondered if they needed another teen drama, and while they were supportive of Williamson's scripts, they eventually passed on it. Left unused, Columbia TriStar sent his scripts to newly founded The WB network who was looking for fresh ideas for their programme after launching supernatural drama series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Williamson went for a meeting with then-chief programmer Garth Ancier and entertainment president Susanne Daniels who loved his script and picked it up for the network's new Tuesday night lineup.Procter & Gamble Productions joined in as an original co-producer of the series, however, sold its interest in the show three months before the premiere when printed stories surfaced about the racy dialogue and risqué plot lines.
Dawson's Creek would become responsible for launching the acting careers of its young lead stars James van der Beek, Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes, and Joshua Jackson, who had varying acting experience prior to being cast in the show. Known for his appearance in The Mighty Ducks series, playing a young and aspiring hockey player, Jackson was initially considered for the main role of Dawson Leery. However, while Williamson "fell in love" with Jackson, citing his ability to read any role during the auditions, he felt that Jackson's good looks would not fit the underdog, nerd, and video geek character he envisioned for the show's titular character. After The WB expressed their wish to look for a different actor, Williamson decided on casting him in the role of Dawson's best friend Pacey Witter instead. After watching a video of James van der Beek that his casting director had sent in, the casting crew invited him to audition in Los Angeles. A regular off-Broadway performer, van der Beek impressed Williams with his "cerebral and internal" quality, citing "that nervousness that made it seem like he was pre-thinking and over-thinking and over-compensating constantly like he was insecure. And we said, "There's Dawson"." Actors Charlie Hunnam, Adrian Grenier, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Scott Speedman also auditioned for the role of Dawson, while Adam Brody read for Pacey.
With the role of Dawson's best female friend Joey Potter, casting directors were looking for a tomboy character. Williamson and his team were initially close to casting actress Selma Blair in the role who had auditioned "very tough, [but] with a lot of heart," when an audition tape of Katie Holmes came in, in which she had filmed herself in her basement, with her mother reading Dawson's lines. Williamson thought she had exactly the right look for Joey, citing that "she had those eyes, those eyes just stained with loneliness." He asked her to come to California, but a conflict with her school play schedule prevented her from doing so. Upon her arrival in Los Angeles two weeks later, she was able to secure the role. Williams, a regular in low-budget films and commercials, impressed Williamson when she auditioned with a heartfelt scene in which her character Jen Lindely goes in and sees her grandfather laying in the bed, transforming herself "into this broken child who just needed to be fixed."Katherine Heigl also was one of the actresses who auditioned for the role of Jen after Steve Miner, who directed the show's pilot and Heigl's 1994 film My Father the Hero, brought in the young star.
The entire first season, thirteen episodes, was filmed before the first episode even aired. After the end of the second season, Williamson left to focus on Wasteland, a new show for ABC, but returned to write the two-hour series finale.
During its first four seasons, Dawson's Creek was primarily filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, at EUE/Screen Gems studios and on location around Wilmington, with Southport and Wrightsville Beach also standing in for the fictional town of Capeside, a port city located in mid-Cape Cod. The Wilmington area benefited greatly from the show. While a number of films, commercials and music videos had been shot at the studios, Dawson's Creek was the first to occupy numerous soundstages for many years. Other shows as One Tree Hill later occupied some of those same soundstages for several years and used some of the same locations in Wilmington. In addition to business brought into the community by the project, it attracted attention to the city as a filming location and boosted tourism. The visitors' bureau distributed a special guide to filming locations used in the show.
For the Leery, Lindley, and Potter homes private residences located along the shores of Hewletts Creek, a stream in New Hanover County, were used. Some of the scenes shown during the opening credits and miscellaneous scenery shots throughout the early episodes were filmed in Martha's Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts, as well as Masonboro. Interiors for the Potter family's The Icehouse restaurant were filmed at The Icehouse bar in downtown Wilmington, while exteriors were filmed at the Dockside Restaurant in Wrightsville Beach. Nearby constructions at the real Icehouse later forced producers to eliminate the bar from the storyline by burning it down. Other prominent exterior shots include Alderman Hall on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's campus, serving for Capeside High School.
Due to the architectural uniformity of the campus, it was difficult for the university to double as another campus in the show when the characters reached college in the fifth and sixth season. Therefore, scenes at the fictional Worthington University in Boston were filmed at Duke University and around Franklin Street at the University of North Carolina. Other filming locations in later seasons include Durham and Raleigh. The Hell's Kitchen bar featured in the show was a natural food store at 118 Princess Street in Wilmington which was purchased by producers, dressed as a seedy college bar and used for production during the show's last season. When production completed, the building was purchased by a local restaurateur, along with much of the set and decorations and was then converted it into a real restaurant and bar. It retains the name as well.
Dawson's Creek generated a high amount of publicity before its debut, with several television critics and consumer watchdog groups expressing concerns about its anticipated "racy" plots and dialogue. The controversy drove one of the original production companies away from the project.
John Kiesewetter, television columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer, wrote, "As much as I want to love the show--the cool kids, charming New England setting, and stunning cinematography--I can't get past the consuming preoccupation with sex, sex, sex." In his defense, Williamson denied this was his intention, stating that "I never set out to make something provocative and racy".
Syndicated columnist John Leo said the show should be called "When Parents Cringe," and went on to write "The first episode contains a good deal of chatter about breasts, genitalia, masturbation, and penis size. Then the title and credits come on and the story begins." Tom Shales, of The Washington Post, commented that creator Kevin Williamson was "the most overrated wunderkind in Hollywood" and "what he's brilliant at is pandering."
The Parents Television Council proclaimed the show as the single worst program of the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons by being "the crudest of the network shows aimed at kids", complaining about "an almost obsessive focus on pre-marital sexual activity", references to pornography and condoms, and the show's acceptance of homosexuality. The Council also cited it as the fourth worst show in 2000-2001. Former UPN President Lucie Salhany criticized WB for airing Dawson's Creek which features "adolescent characters in adult situations" in an early timeslot while the network is supposed to be "the family network". However, on the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the National Organization for Women offered an endorsement, deeming it one of the least sexually exploitative shows on the air.
Despite the controversy surrounding the sexual-oriented topics, the show was a major critical success. Before its premiere, San Francisco Chronicle explained the buzz around the show was due to its creator Kevin Williamson who wrote the screenplays for Scream and Scream 2 and that the show might be "one of the year's tangier hits". He also found Dawson's Creek scenically "downright luxuriant" and liked that it "doesn't have the rushed feel of so many teen shows. The edginess is in the situations, not the pacing."Variety wrote that it was "an addictive drama with considerable heart...the teenage equivalent of a Woody Allen movie--a kind of 'Deconstructing Puberty'".The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it "a teen's dream". The Dayton Daily News listed Capeside as a television town they'd most like to live in. The Seattle Times declared it the best show of the 1997-1998 season and said it "belongs to the small-pantheon My So-Called Life, James at 15 and to a lesser extent, Party of Five and Doogie Howser, M.D..
Dawson's Creek was nominated for fourteen awards, including ALMA Awards, Casting Society of America Awards, Golden Satellite Awards, TV Guide Awards, and YoungStar Awards. In 2000, the show was awarded a SHINE Award for consistently addressing sexual health issues on TV. By the end of its run, the show, its crew, and its young cast had been nominated for numerous awards, winning six of them. Joshua Jackson won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Actor three times, and the show won the Teen Choice Award for Choice Drama twice. The series also won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Drama Series.
|2001||Nominated||ALMA Awards||Outstanding Director of a Drama Series||Gregory Prange|
|1998||Nominated||Artios Award||Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Pilot||Marcia Shulman|
|2000||Nominated||GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding TV Drama Series|
|2004||Nominated||Satellite Awards||Best DVD Release of TV Shows||Dawson's Creek - The Complete Second Season|
|2000||Nominated||TV Guide Awards||Favorite Teen Show|
|1999||Won||Teen Choice Awards||TV - Choice Drama|
|Won||TV - Choice Actor||Joshua Jackson|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actor||James Van Der Beek|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actress||Katie Holmes|
|Nominated||TV - Breakout Performance||Rachael Leigh Cook|
|2000||Won||TV - Choice Drama|
|Won||TV - Choice Actor||Joshua Jackson|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actress||Katie Holmes|
|2001||Nominated||TV - Choice Drama|
|Won||TV - Choice Actor||Joshua Jackson|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actress||Katie Holmes|
|2002||Nominated||TV - Choice Drama/Action Adventure|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actor, Drama||Joshua Jackson|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actress, Drama||Katie Holmes|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Sidekick||Busy Philipps|
|2003||Nominated||TV - Choice Drama/Action Adventure|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actor - Drama/Action Adventure||Joshua Jackson|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Actress - Drama/Action Adventure||Katie Holmes|
|Nominated||TV - Choice Sidekick||Mika Boorem|
|2018||Nominated||Choice Throwback TV Show|
|1998||Nominated||YoungStar Awards||Outstanding TV Drama SeriesBest Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama TV Series||Michelle Williams|
|Season||Timeslot||Network||Number of episodes||Season premiere||Season finale||TV seasons||Rank||Viewers|
|1||Tuesday 9/8c||The WB||13||January 20, 1998||May 19, 1998||1997-1998||#121||6.6|
|2||Wednesday 8/7c||22||October 7, 1998||May 26, 1999||1998-1999||#119||5.4|
|3||23||September 29, 1999||May 24, 2000||1999-2000||#122||4.0|
|4||23||October 4, 2000||May 23, 2001||2000-2001||#120||4.1|
|5||23||October 10, 2001||May 15, 2002||2001-2002||#134||3.9|
|6||23||October 2, 2002||May 14, 2003||2002-2003||#134||4.0|
The show was rated TV-14 for content.
While never a huge ratings success among the general television population, Dawson's Creek did very well with the younger demographic it targeted and became a defining show for the WB Network. The pilot episode was watched by 6.8 million viewers and had a 4.8 rating which was the network's highest rating at the time. The first season's highest ranked episode was the finale, which was fifty-ninth, while the second highest rated was the second episode (probably scoring so well partially because the other major networks carried President Clinton's State of the Union address in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal rather than their regular programming). The finale itself was watched by 7.8 million U.S. viewers, which was its largest audience ever.
The show had, in the words of television experts Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, a "semi-spinoff" - Young Americans. The protagonist of Young Americans, Will Krudski (Rodney Scott), was introduced in three episodes at the end of the show's third season, as a former classmate of Dawson, Joey, and Pacey, who had moved away some years before and had returned for a visit. He was never referred to before or seen again. Young Americans was made by the same company as Dawson's Creek, Columbia TriStar Television, and appeared in Dawson's Creek's timeslot when it went on hiatus during the summer of 2000. The show had 8 episodes. The reason the show is considered a semi-spinoff instead of a true spinoff is that Will was not originally created for Dawson's Creek. He was added to Dawson's solely to set up and promote the series Young Americans.
The Amanda Show featured a skit entitled "Moody's Point" to parody the show, but was discontinued when the show was cancelled.
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The show was especially popular in Australia, where it rated #1 in its timeslot on Network Ten for several episodes and highly at other times from seasons one to four. The show originally aired in the UK on Channel 4 but later moved to Channel 5 for the last two seasons. In 2007, Channel 5's sister channel 5Star began airing reruns on weekdays at 7pm. In early 2008 with its evening showings having reached the final season it restarted the show in an early morning slot. From April 2011, it aired on Sony Channel on the Sky digital platform. As of November 2017, the full series returns to Channel 4 on its steaming service All 4.
The show also aired in numerous international markets, listed here with the premiere dates:
|Argentina||1998||Sony Entertainment Television (Latin America)|
|Australia||1998||Network Ten (Original broadcast - 1998-2003)|
TV1 (Syndication - 2001-2000s)
|Austria||ORF 1, Reruns on Puls 4|
|Belgium||1999||VT4, Reruns on 2BE (2008), vtm (as of August 30, 2010) (in Dutch), VijfTV (as of August 30, 2011) (in Dutch)|
|La Deux, Club RTL (in French)|
|Brazil||March 3, 1998||Sony, Rede Globo, Record, Liv, MTV|
|Canada||January 20, 1998 May 14, 2003||Global|
|Croatia||September 2001||Nova TV|
|Czech Republic||September 9, 2000||TV Nova|
|Denmark||September 1, 1998||TV3. Syndication: DR1, TV 2 and currently TV 2 Zulu|
|France||January 10, 1999||TF1 and Télé Monte Carlo|
|Germany||January 3, 1999||Sat.1 (Seasons 1-3) and ProSieben (Seasons 4-6); Reruns aired on both channels, ZDFneo and on the premium channel TNT Serie|
|Greece||January 10, 1999||Mega|
|Hungary||September 11, 1999||TV2 (Seasons 1-3), RTL Klub (Seasons 4-5), Cool TV (Season 6)|
|India||April 2008||Zee Cafe|
|Indonesia||1999, rerun 2007||TPI, rerun by Global TV|
|Ireland||May 1998||RTÉ TWO reruns on 3e|
|Israel||September 1, 1998||Channel 3|
|Italy||January 3, 1999/ January 13, 2000||Tele+ (pay TV)/ Italia Uno (free to air)|
|Lithuania||TV3 later moved to TV6|
|Malaysia||2000||Radio Televisyen Malaysia Channel 2 (TV2)|
|Malta||July 2008||Net Television|
|New Zealand||June 25, 1999||TV2 (New Zealand)|
|Norway||September 1, 1998||TV3|
|Panama||1998||Channel 4 RPC|
|Paraguay||1998||Channel 9 SNT|
|Peru||Sony Entertainment Television (Latin America)|
|Philippines||1998||Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action)|
|Poland||September 6, 1998||Polsat|
|Portugal||April 8, 2001||TVI|
|Puerto Rico||1999||Tele Once UnivisionPR|
|Romania||February 28, 1999||Pro TV|
|Saudi Arabia||December 2007||MBC 4|
|Spain||2000||La 2 de RTVE|
|Switzerland||December 27, 1998||TSR 2|
|Thailand||May 15, 1999||True Series|
|Turkey||1999||CNBC-e, 2002 DiziMax, 2009 Kanal 1|
|United Kingdom||May 2, 1998||Channel 4, Sky One, Trouble, Sony TV|
Curating popular music and breaking artists from the independent and alternative rock genres, Dawson's Creek became impactful on shaping the television music culture of teen and other drama series in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Instrumentation of the episodes was generally overseen by executive Paul Stupin, music supervisor John McCullough, and co-producer Drew Matich who helped artists rise to fame and made pivotal creative decisions. The trio approached music in "a way to convey the emotion, to convey the story," looking for songs to underplay whole sequences where viewers could also enjoy the music under dialogue. Thus, Stupin would often end up spending hours in the editing room with the editor going over, trying candidate after candidate of songs that McCullough send over. In some cases, they would look at, against picture, ten or 15 songs against each scene. Next to McCullough, recommendations for inclusion came "from everywhere", with writers, editors, co-producers and Sony Music executives playing pivotal roles.
Originally, Canadian recording artist Alanis Morissette's song "Hand in My Pocket" from her third studio album Jagged Little Pill (1995) served as the theme song in the unaired pilot episode of the television show. However, Morissette decided not to have it used as the theme after Dawson's Creek was picked up, prompting Stupin and McCullough to approach different artists for original material to use. In the meantime, The WB had licensed American singer-songwriter Paula Cole's song "I Don't Want to Wait" from her second album This Fire (1996) and suggested them to use it instead. An eleventh hour decision, it was incorporated late into the promotion of the series but became a hit on the US Billboard charts upon the show's debut in January 1998. The first season's score was provided by Adam Fields, including the "End Credits Theme," which was used on all sixth seasons.
Because Sony Music failed to secure the rights for home video and online streaming services when the show was produced and did not wish to pay for them later, most of the songs that aired in the original broadcasts were replaced in the DVD editions and upon the video-on-demand debut of the show. Starting with the third season, "I Don't Want to Wait" was also dropped from the opening sequence of the DVD releases due to budget reasons, to be replaced by "Run Like Mad" from Canadian folk artist Jann Arden, a regular music contributor to the series. The 32-second recording was one of the original intros that Stupin commissioned after he had failed to acquire rights to Morissette's song and which international broadcasts had previously used as the theme song for the first season before switching to Cole's song for the remainder of the run.
During its original run, Dawson's Creek spawned two volumes of soundtrack albums. The album Songs from Dawson's Creek was released after the broadcasting of the series' first season in April 1999, and became a major success worldwide. It reached the top of the Australian Albums Chart and also peaked within the top in Austria, Norway, Sweden, and the United States. During it first sixth months of release, the album sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide and was certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In Australia, it became the fifth highest selling album of 1999.Songs from Dawson's Creek - Volume 2 was released in October 2000 to coincide with the debut of the series' fourth season. Less successful, it reached the top twenty of Austrian and Swiss Albums Charts, while peaking at number 50 on the US Billboard 200.
Reruns of the show are often seen in Australia on 9Go!, as of 2019 it airs at 10am, Mon-Fri with one episode a day. In Canada on TVtropolis, in Norway on TV3, in Denmark on TV2 Zulu, in the UK and Ireland on Channel Four, in France on TMC, in Greece on Macedonia TV, in Romania on Digi Film, in India on Zee Café, in Indonesia on TPI and Global TV, in Italy on Italia 1, in Spain on LaOtra, in Lithuania on TV3, in Latin America on Liv, and in the Middle East on MBC4 and on the Orbit - Showtime Network (OSN).
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Darren Crosdale's Dawson's Creek: The Official Companion (Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel, 1999) (ISBN 0-7407-0725-6), thoroughly chronicles the show, but only covers events through to the end of the second season. Scott Andrews' Troubled Waters: An Unauthorised and Unofficial Guide To Dawson's Creek (Virgin Publishing 2001 (ISBN 0-7535-0625-4)) also covers the series thoroughly up to the end of Season Four. A less thorough book from about the same time, aimed at teens, is Meet the Stars of Dawson's Creek by Grace Catalano. Andy Mangels's From Scream to Dawson's Creek: An Unauthorized Take on the Phenomenal Career of Kevin Williamson (Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2000) (ISBN 1-58063-122-3) covers the show well but omits later seasons.
Other references include: