‘Dawson’s Creek’: Did Dawson Take Advantage of Joey When They Had Their First Kiss?
Watching old TV shows with the social understanding we have today can be complicated. While many shows have achieved the status of a classic, over time society has developed a deeper understanding of societal dynamics and of harmful attitudes and behaviors that may have been suppressed in earlier years. Dramas like Dawson’s Creek. that focus on relationships can especially fall victim to this.
The beloved series has caught this kind of attention for various reasons. While many moments are receiving re-evaluations, an early moment where Dawson and Joey kiss has fans asking questions and is sparking a meaningful discussion about consent.
Dawson and Joey were a major couple on the show
Though Dawson’s Creek had several different relationships across its run, Dawson Leery and Joey Potter were set up as a main couple in the first season. The two are childhood friends. Joey lives across the creek from Dawson, and they frequently are physically affectionate. The show, however, focuses on characters in high school, and they’re at the point where this kind of touching can be awkward.
This season also features a love quadrangle: Dawson is torn between his feelings for Joey and an attraction to a girl who has just moved to town, Jen Lindley. Joey also has a few different suitors, including Pacey Witter, as well as other boys in later seasons. However, the romantic current between Dawson and Joey continues through the entire run of the show, between other relationships they both have.
Season 1 features a kiss with iffy consent
In season 1 of Dawson’s Creek, in the episode “Boyfriend,” there’s a moment that’s given fans pause. In this episode, Dawson and Joey are more aware of their feelings for each other, but still quiet about it. They attend a beach party, where Joey drinks too much alcohol and becomes incapacitated. She’s nearly a victim of a sexual assault, though Pacey saves her.
Later on, when Joey is safe. But while still very drunk and only half awake, Joey and Dawson kiss. This is the moment that has fans talking. Though it’s a minor kiss initiated by Joey, her incapacitated state means that in a sexual situation she would be unable to consent. Ultimately, it’s not a reason to condemn the show or the character of Dawson Leery, but it’s a good sign that people are looking at nostalgic media like Dawson’s Creek with a critical eye instead of unthinkingly accepting what they see.
Dawson and Joey were not endgame
Though the childhood best friends to lovers trope is popular, Joey ultimately ends up married to Pacey instead of Dawson. However, in an article in Entertainment Weekly, creator Kevin Williamson said, “When I first wrote it, I was absolutely convinced it had to end with Dawson and Joey together.” At the same time, there was a huge contingent of fans who wanted to see Joey with Pacey, which was a surprise to Williamson. Williamson discussed his thoughts on this love triangle as well:
When I finally shifted it to Pacey and Joey, people came out of the closet going, “Okay, I’m so glad that happened. They so belong together.” I know it was a little polarizing; I thought it was gonna be extremely polarizing.
Ship wars in TV fandoms can be pretty cutthroat, but according to Williamson, fan fights in the heyday of Dawson’s Creek were relatively mild. So it still must have been an intense decision in the writer’s room.