Monday, July 9, 2018

Dawson's: The Bostonians

It's pure soap opera, assuming "pure" is a word that can be applied to that genre. Joey says those words at the end of Season Four and then she and Dawson kiss and, with that, we dial everything back to Season One. Actually, the first kiss starts Season Two but that's the basic issue.

That comes out in a revealing way at the start of the episode. The professor reads the story of the "first kiss' out loud to the class. And then he praises Joey and gives her a C. When she asks why, he tells her that her story ends where it should begin. And here we have one of those meta-moments the show is so famous for (or infamous for if you aren't a fan). The show's creators know they are stringing us along and we know we are being strung along and everyone is fine with this because the show can't move past that kiss without ending. There would be no story left to tell.

As a short story, it seems to me there is nothing wrong with ending the story here.  If F. Scott Fitzgerald had submitted chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby to Professor David Wilder the fact that there is plainly more to be told would not be just grounds for giving it a C.

Of course, Professor David Wilder's comment is really more of a plot device. It is meant to get the story back on track. That's ironical in retrospect because we know that the show's creator will ultimately change his mind and decide that Joey was wrong about seasons three and four being "pure soap opera" and that the love with Pacey was the real story all along. (The right choice if you ask me.)

To get back to Gatsby, there are obvious Gatsby undertones in Joey's story and that is perhaps the most significant thing about the series. The big surprise is not that Joey ultimately picks Pacey over Dawson. The big surprise is that the story is really about Joey. She is the major character. With this episode, Dawson and Pacey both become minor characters and could easily have been dispensed with, only the name of the series stands in the way.

The introduction of Busy Phillips as Audrey Liddell underlines the point. Several women have told me of more or less similar encounters on their arrival on campus. There doesn't have to be a literally Audrey character but any woman arriving on campus will see that her choices are a possibility and the question is not, "Why?" but "Why not?"

And that's about it. Jack's story isn't interesting. This is mostly because Jack's story should be Dawson's story. If there is a character who is gay, it's Dawson. Jen is boring. Pacey is ... absent.

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