A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series is all about teens who have a mature/adult vocabulary and general worldview (and quite the knack for pop culture references). As it follows them through high school and into college, the show deals with "typical" teen issues like sex, first loves, drinking, sexual orientation, depression, cheating in school, and parents' divorce. Of those, sex is probably one of the biggest themes; it's a frequent topic of discussion -- as well as action. Teens will likely find the characters' vocabulary, critical analysis, and maturity either inspiring or alienating.
What's the story?
DAWSON'S CREEK follows four teens -- Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek), Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) and Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) -- from the small, fictional town of Capeside, Mass. Joey is the girl next door who captivates innocent, wide-eyed Dawson, a naive movie-lover who has a happily-ever-after vision of relationships and a hard time dealing with their harsh reality. Through both high school and college, Joey and Dawson have an on-again, off-again romance that's interrupted by other serious relationships along the way -- including a very serious (and ratings-grabbing) tryst between Joey and Pacey, who is the typical bad boy around town. His father and brother are police officers, but he's busy having an affair with his math teacher, struggling with his grades, and falling for his best friend's girl.
Is it any good?
The series aims to portray Smalltown, USA, but it brings progressive issues into the mix as well. All in all,Dawson's Creek is far from the average teen drama. The characters are articulate -- more so than the average adult -- and don't use "like" and "you know" to complete their thoughts. They're introspective and create critical dialogue to question their own relationships, their peers, and the world around them.
The show's sometimes serious subjetc matter includes an openly gay character, questioning religion, the death of a classmate, sleeping with a teacher, drug overdoses, sex, first loves, college, an unstable mother, depression, divorce, lust, and infidelity. The characters' ability to explain (at length) how to navigate situations like these made the series a learning tool as well as a guilty pleasure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how teens feel this series relates to more current teen programming. Are the experiences the characters go through still accurate or relatable? Can teens describe how they might handle one of the situations dealt with in the series? Do they feel like the characters on the show are realistic reflections of other teens they know? Do any of their friends talk like Dawson, Pacey, Joey, and Jen?