Dawson’s Creek—Season 1

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Clever writing

Clever writing is too clever and not very realistic or conversational


Take a trip down the creek!

Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) thinks he has the perfect life.  His parents (Mary-Margaret Humes and John Wesley Shipp) have a great marriage and he spends time with his best friends Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) and Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) making movies.  When Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) moves in with her grandmother, Dawson’s life begins to change when he finds himself in love for the first time.  Joey hides her real feelings for her best friend Dawson, and Pacey lands himself a cougar in his teacher Tamara Jacobs (Leann Hunley)…Capeside is never boring.

Dawson’s Creek—Season 1 aired from January 20, 1998 to May 19, 1998 on the WB.  The series received praise for the more realistic portrayal of teenagers and quickly became a hit for the network.


Capeside has the best teachers…

Creator Kevin Williamson had achieved fame for the popular Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer which brought pop-culture talking kids to the screen.  Williams saw Dawson’s Creek as semi-biographical with Dawson’s movie loving teen years and a location similar to Williamson’s childhood (set in New England but shot in North Carolina where he grew up).  With the development of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the WB, Dawson’s Creek was a perfect companion piece.

Dawson’s Creek was known for its ultra-hip dialogue.  Unfortunately with the flood of similar shows and movies, Dawson’s Creek hasn’t aged well.  Now, the dialogue feels pretty unnatural and clunky when it originally felt fresh.  Dawson and his friends don’t feel like real characters…and you kind of want to slap them around.


You can never take Pacey’s freedom!!!

The show proved to be a launch pad for the main cast.  None of the cast look like underclassmen in high school but it didn’t really matter since class seemed mostly secondary.  James Van Der Beek is charming as Dawson, and Katie Holmes wins the school crush award as her tomboyish Joey.  Michelle Williams has gone on to become an Academy Award nominated actress, and Joshua Jackson went on to success in Fringe.

The show did go through some evolution this season.  Characters like Nellie Oleson (Nicole Nieth) fortunately disappeared, and Scott Foley’s Cliff Elliot disappeared without a trace after “The Scare”.  The series also dove too heavily into the Tamara storyline but her character did return in season 2.  Series regular Kerr Smith didn’t appear until season 2.

Dawson’s Creek is a dirty pleasure.  It is often cheesy and shot poorly, but it is fun, soapy entertainment.  For a graduate of the original 90210, Dawson’s Creek was the perfect evolution.  It did lead to a lot of copycat series along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its influence can still be seen today.  Take a trip down Dawson’s Creek if you remember it, and enjoy the cornball drama it again.

Dawson’s Creek—Season 1 Episode Guide:



1.1       Pilot Airdate:  01/20/98

Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) has a dream of becoming a great director.  He lives in the small town of Capeside, Massachusetts where he spends time with his friend Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) who is starting to have feelings for him.  Dawson and his friend Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) work at the local video store and Pacey finds himself in a complex relationship with his new teacher Tamara Jacobs (Leann Hunley).  When a new girl named Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) comes from New York to stay with her religious grandmother, Dawson finds his life getting more complex, and Joey realizes she’s has growing jealousy.  A trip to the movies for the four of them leads to problems and Joey discovers a secret about Dawson’s news anchor mother Gail (Mary-Margaret Humes).



1.2       Dance Airdate:  01/27/98

Dawson tries to find a way to spend time with Jen and finds the star football player Cliff Elliot (Scott Foley) moving in.  Joey reveals to Dawson’s mother that she knows about her affair with her cohost.  Pacey tries to take it to the next level with Ms. Jacobs.  When Dawson confronts Jen at the dance, things might not go as he plans.



1.3       Kiss Airdate:  02/07/98

Dawson tries to dream up the best situation for his first kiss with Jen and finds himself forced to work for Nellie Oleson (Nicole Nieth) and Cliff Elliot on their TV movie for class.  Pacey continues to increase his romance with Ms. Jacobs by getting her to tutor him.  Joey meets a Capeside visitor named Anderson Crawford (Ian Bohen) and pretends to be an upper class New York girl to impress him.  Dawson and Jen’s attempt to get a shot for Dawson’s movie leads to a discovery.



1.4       Discovery Airdate:  02/10/98

Dawson and Joey discover that Dawson’s camera caught Ms. Jacobs having sex on camera…but are unaware that she’s with Pacey.  Pacey comes clean to Dawson about Tamara but finds himself questioning if Tamara is serious about him.  Dawson sees his mother with her co-anchor and learns that Joey knew about the affair.  Jen comes clean about her past in New York City to Dawson with a negative reaction.



1.5       Hurricane Airdate:  02/17/98

A hurricane is approaching Capeside, and everyone is getting ready.  The Leerys invite Joey’s sister Bessie (Nina Repeta) and her boyfriend Bodie Wells (Obi Ndefo) along with Jen and her grandmother Evelyn (Mary Beth Peil) to their home to ride out the storm…but secrets will be revealed as Dawson’s father Mitch (John Wesley Shipp) learns the truth about his wife.  Meanwhile Pacey and his brother Doug (Dylan Neal) find themselves stuck at Ms. Jacobs home waiting for the storm to pass.



1.6       Baby Airdate:  02/24/98

Joey finds her sister is giving birth and unable to get to a hospital…and the only one she can turn to is Jen’s grandmother for help.  Pacey’s secret is out at school and now Tamara could be fired for her relationship with a student.



1.7       Detention Airdate:  03/03/98

Joey, Dawson, Pacey, and Jen all end up in detention with their fellow classmate Abby Morgan (Monica Keena), and find that when trapped for hours, the truth might come out…even Joey’s feelings for Dawson.



1.8       Boyfriend Airdate:  03/10/98

Dawson finds his jealousy growing when Jen’s old boyfriend Billy Konrad (Eion Bailey) comes to Capeside to see her.  Dawson’s parents work to repair their shattered relationship, and Joey finds herself making a big jump after a beach party.  Jen makes an important decision about her relationship with Dawson.


“Road Trip”

1.9       Road Trip Airdate:  03/17/98

Dawson deals with Jen’s dumping of him and ends up on a road trip to a Providence strip club with Pacey and Billy.  Joey faces new problems at school when a football player (Eric Balfour) claims she slept with him…leading to a team-up with Jen.


“Double Date”

1.10     Double Date Airdate:  04/28/98

Dawson is trying to get over Jen and decides to take out Mary Beth (Megahn Perry) to make Jen jealous.  Joey finds herself paired with Pacey for a science experiment, and Pacey discovers something about his feelings for her.


“The Scare”

1.11     The Scare Airdate:  05/05/98

It is Friday the 13th, and Dawson’s ready for it.  With a bag full of scares, Jen questions why Dawson isn’t trying to scare her as she goes on a date with Cliff Elliot.  With a serial killer stalking the coast, Capeside could be next.  A séance at Dawson’s house for Cliff, Jen, Joey, Pacey, and a girl picked up at the convenience store (Jennifer McComb) turns scary when the power goes out.


“Beauty Contest”

1.12     Beauty Contest Airdate:  05/12/98

The yearly beauty contest is coming to Capeside and a $5,000 prize entices Joey and Pacey to enter.  While Pacey braves sex jokes to try to move out, Joey finds herself teaming with Jen in hopes of winning the money for college.



1.13     Decisions Airdate:  05/19/98

When Joey gets an opportunity to study in France, Dawson finds himself debating his relationship with her.  Jen and her grandmother learn that her grandfather’s health improved but a turn for the best ends up could end in tragedy.  As Joey tries to determine her future and Pacey struggles with being second best in his home, a trip to see Joey’s father in jail could change things for Joey.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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