By Callia Gilligan, ’22
Anyone who knows me is well aware that my most recent television endeavor was watching the six seasons of Dawson’s Creek in all its teen drama glory. And I would not shut up about it.
Dawson’s Creek is all about – you guessed it – Dawson Leery and his friends from his tiny hometown of Capeside, Massachusetts. There’s Pacey, the sarcastic and self-proclaimed loser, Jen, the derelict daughter who was shipped off to Capeside from New York City; and Josephine, who everyone calls Joey, whose dad is a convict and whose mom has passed away. Joey is also Dawson’s childhood best friend. The show follows them as they navigate their trivial teen problems and spend the majority of each episode talking about all the ways they’ll solve them.
Dawson’s Creek is not the best show that I have ever seen. It isn’t even really a good show. It focuses too much on an obscure idea of soulmates when the characters are 15 years old, rather than real teen issues or the actually interesting friendships the writers have established between the teens. The characters were far too self-aware to the point where none of them were realistic. Additionally, they talked so pretentiously that asking the audience to believe that they were teenagers, let alone real people, was almost too much.
And I noted this, several times throughout my binge-watch. But, I just couldn’t stop watching.
In a world that is so unfamiliar right now, many of us have been using TV as a method of escape. For me, those television shows have been almost exclusively from the early 2000s.
During quarantine, I re-watched Gilmore Girls. And then I cycled through it a total of four times. When everything was uncertain, revisiting the wacky characters of Stars Hollow as they help young mom Lorelai raise her daughter Rory was far more comforting than anything going on in the news.
But Gilmore Girls has its own issues. By the time you reach the seventh season, Rory is unrecognizable from the sweet, book-loving, 16-year-old that we met at the beginning. Emily and Richard, Lorelai’s parents, are as stuck up as they were in season one, Lorelai has become selfish, and the townspeople’s stalker tendencies are no longer endearing. That leaves Paris, of all people – comically selfish and abrasive – as the only redeemable character.
Yet Gilmore Girls is addicting, the same way that Dawson’s Creek was. The simplicity and “nothing really happens” style of the show is what I craved.
Shows like One Tree Hill, The OC, 90210 and of course, Gilmore Girls and Dawson’s Creek, are some of the most famous teen dramas, and they did really well when they initially aired, continuing for six or more seasons And they do especially well on streaming services nowadays.
There could be many reasons why this is the case. Some viewers might be revisiting them out of nostalgia for the late 90s and early 2000s. But I was born in 2004, there is no nostalgia there.
For me, what is so enjoyable about a good 2000s teen drama is its simplicity. The stakes are arguably very low in these shows but there’s enough drama to keep it interesting and engaging. One of my favorite Dawson’s Creek episodes is in season two. Dawson reads Joey’s diary and finds out that she didn’t like being a part of a movie that he was making. And then they get into an argument about how Joey wasn’t honest and Dawson invaded her privacy. That’s it. That’s the whole episode.
In my opinion, 2000s teen dramas are the ultimate escape. If the news is too stressful or I have a lot on my plate at school, spending forty minutes watching nothing monumental really happen on the television immediately puts me in a better headspace. It’s a source of reliability when everything else isn’t.
So, no matter how bad Gilmore Girls got towards the end, it will never not be my comfort show.