‘Dawson’s Creek’: None of the Characters ‘Have to Be White’ Says Joshua Jackson

In many ways, Dawson’s Creek was quite progressive and ahead of its time. Not only did the teenage characters grapple with intense themes and situations like incarceration and grief, but the show also placed emphasis on sexuality and sexual orientation. In fact, Dawson’s Creek holds the title for the first-ever male gay kiss on primetime television. But despite all the strides that the teen drama made, it was still very lacking in terms of racial diversity.

Dawson's Creek cast Michelle Williams, James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Meredith Monroe, Kerr Smith, and Katie Holmes
‘Dawson’s Creek’ cast: Michelle Williams, James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Meredith Monroe, Kerr Smith, and Katie Holmes | Columbia/TriStar International Television

All of the main characters in ‘Dawson’s Creek’ were White

At its core, Dawson’s Creek was a show about a group of friends coming of age. The show followed seven main characters: Dawson Leery, Joey Potter, Pacey Witter, Jen Lindley, Jack McPhee, Andie McPhee, and Audrey Liddell as they attempted to navigate adulthood. Although the characters had some socioeconomic diversity, they were all White.

The teen drama rarely touched on race

Diehard fans may recall that Joey’s brother-in-law, Bodie, was Black, and thus her nephew, Alexander, was biracial. However, the show didn’t elaborate much on what it might have been like for the pair to live in Capeside, a predominately White town. Dawson’s Creek briefly attempted to talk about racism when Principal Green and his daughter, Nikki, were all but run out of town, but even that wasn’t discussed for more than an episode or two.

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Even though the main characters in Dawson’s Creek were White, Joshua Jackson, who played Pacey, argues that there’s absolutely no reason why they couldn’t have been a different race. In fact, in a recent interview with Refinery29, Jackson shared that he believes that having more racial diversity could’ve made the show that much more interesting.

Joshua Jackson says any of the characters could’ve been Black

“I don’t think you’re just throwing in a Black character if you changed Joey to a Black woman [or] Pacey to a Black man,” Jackson shared about how Dawson’s Creek could be revamped. “What you’re doing is you’re enriching the character. Let’s say one of those characters is white and one of those characters is Black. Now, there’s a whole rich conversation to be had between these two kids, the political times that we live in, the cultural flow that is going through all of us right now. I think that makes a better story.”

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“Joey and Pacey don’t have to be white. Dawson and Jen don’t have to be white,” Jackson continued. The Dr. Death star also shared that it would be interesting to see the intersectionality of non-White characters having to navigate a very racially homogenous setting.

How ‘Dawson’s Creek’ could’ve benefitted from more diversity

“So if you went back to a story like [Dawson’s Creek], what was important in that show was class not race, which I think is true for a lot of small Northeastern towns,” Jackson shared. “They are very White. But if you brought race into that as well, you don’t diminish the amount of the stories that you can tell. You enrich the tapestry of that show. So I think that would be a great idea.”