5 Things you never knew about Dawson's Creek will shock you!
Fans have waited long enough.
The writers of “Dawson’s Creek” (sans superhero savior Greg Berlanti) reunited at the ATX Television Festival on Saturday (June 6) for an intimate look into the seminal ’90s series.
The panel, moderated by Julie Plec, included creator Kevin Williamson, Paul Stupin, Jenny Bicks, Rob Thomas, Gina Fattore and Anna Fricke. At the time, they were all a bunch of television newbies — and yet they created one of the most beloved shows ever made. Williamson and co. shared tales from the “Creek,” including how Dawson and Joey were nearly endgame. (Say what?!)
1. Williamson made up the pitch on the spot
Williamson had just sold his first-ever screenplay for “Scary Movie” — which would later be retitled as “Scream” — when TV producer Stupin asked him to meet. He figured Williamson would have ideas for a television series.
“It was my first television meeting with a television producer and he said, ‘Got any ideas for television?’ And I said, ’Sure.’ And I did not. So I started telling a story about me,” Williamson recalled.
“I remember Kevin had such a great vision of Dawson and Joey, and that relationship and that world, even when he was winging it,” Stupin added.
2. There's a reason they were names Dawson and Joey
Dawson, of course, was modeled after Williamson, a young film aficionado from a small town who was obsessed with Steven Spielberg movies. But all of the characters in Capeside had a little bit of Williamson in them.
“This show is autobiographical,” Williamson said. “Every single character is one side of my personality. I was the poor kid who grew up on the wrong side of the creek. I was also the wannabe Spielberg, who filmed the shows in the backyard of said creek. And then I was also Pacey, the jokester, who just could never do anything right. I was Jen, who was this broken bird who just wanted more — wanted better.”
“But I had no one to express the gay side of myself,” he added. “I was a kid in a small town who was growing up gay. It’s no secret that our two leads are Dawson and Joey – two male names. It was my only way when I wrote the pilot to really express that side of myself.”
3. Thomas knew nothing ("like Jon Snow")
Thomas, who would later go on to create “Veronica Mars,” got his start on the “Creek.”
“’Dawson’s Creek’ was my first job,” Thomas said. “It was season one. I was a staff writer. I had been writing novels before then.”
“An executive at Sony had read my first novel and he was pushing me to get into television,” he said. “I went to a meeting at Sony, and they showed me the presentation for ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ and I knew immediately I wanted it. But I was so green. I learned so much in that first year, like how to get in and out of a scene. It was an incredible learning lesson for me.”
But it was a hard adjustment for Thomas, who had never worked in a writers’ room before.
“I turned in my first script and it was well-received,” Thomas recalled. “Kevin and Paul really liked it. I was thrilled. But, whenever you pass scripts around, you get asterisks down the page. So Kevin had done his pass as showrunners always do on every show, and if you looked at the script, there were asterisks down every page, asterisks and revision marks. I felt humiliated. I felt it looked like Kevin had re-written every word of this script. I thought, every writer on the staff was laughing at me. I took it very personally.”
Thomas wasn’t the only one learning on the spot. For Williamson, “Dawson’s Creek” was his first TV show — and only second project ever — so he was learning too.
“I was watching VHS copies of shows and timing them, timing each and every act break,” Williamson said. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
“Dawson’s” would later inspire Thomas’ much-beloved “Veronica Mars.” It’s no coincidence “VM” also features an iconic love triangle. “The biggest lesson I learned was to not save stuff,” Thomas said. “Do not delay gratification for too long or people will get tired of watching it.”
4. Joey nearly ended up with Dawson
Despite leaving the show at the end of season two, Williamson returned to write the final two episodes of the series. It was a decision that was made at the last possible minute. “The episode before the final two was actually intended to be the season ender, “ said Stupin. “But then we got Kevin back.”
So it was Kevin’s idea to jump ahead five years into the future. Plec, who had been working with Williamson on another project at that time, remembered her good friend agonized over the decision of which Capeside guy Joey should end up with.
“The first half of that finale, Kevin wrote it with the idea that it was going to be Dawson and Joey who got together,” Plec said.
“It was clear to us that it was she and Dawson who would wind up together,” Stupin said. “Halfway through, Kevin calls me and says, ‘I changed my mind.’”
“I always wanted this show to be the twist on the teen drama,” Williamson said. “I wanted this to be a show about soul mates and what soul mates could be. It’s not always about romantic love. Dawson always wanted to be a filmmaker. That was his dream. His one true love was Spielberg. And Pacey was always a screw-up. Wanting to be good enough for Joey was all he wanted. “
Don’t worry, Williamson understands why some of you would rather see Joey with Dawson. “Guys, my mother hates me,” he said. “She went to her grave hating me for that choice.”
5. Jack's groundbreaking kiss almost didn't air
“Dawson’s Creek” made history when it became the first network television series to air a gay kiss on primetime. The kiss, between Jack McPhee and Ethan, was meaningful and powerful – but not for its history-making.
“The heart of this show always was just that common pain of adolescence,” said Fattore. “The fact that we were the first ever gay kiss on TV, we weren’t thinking of it that way. We just wanted to tell the story.”
“We were starting to talk about a gay character and this was a really big deal at the time,” said Stupin. “That was insane and fantastic. We started in season two to build towards that kiss.”
The kiss was also filmed across the street because of “broadcast standards” at the time. But the final cut that mad the air was how showrunner Greg Berlanti intended. “Greg wanted it to be real,” said Fattore. “He wanted it to mean something.”
Jack’s coming out poem in season three was inspired by Berlanti’s own coming out story.
- Crystal Bell