Dawson's Creek

TV review by
Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
Dawson's Creek TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Mature, talky teens ponder life's complexities.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The characters' talky nature promotes communication about the complications of adolescence. The teens' families also play important roles in helping them solve their problems, when needed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although teen characters make mistakes, overall, they're responsible and conscientious and strive to have good relationships. Rebellion and teen angst (ie., a teen has an affair with his teacher) is left to specific characters.


The rare fist-fght or car crash is used to teach an overall lesson.


Sex is an ongoing, central issue throughout the series, and in its original run, the show had a bit of a racy reputation. Jen has a promiscuous past, and sex is taken seriously by all of the characters. Some episodes deal with teens losing their virginity. Both heterosexual and homosexual relationships are dealt with.


Relatively mild on the swearing front: "damn," "hell," "bitch," "ass," etc. More significant is the constant dialogue among the characters to work out issues or express feelings in a mature, articulate manner.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional teen drinking, but consequences and/or discipline is usually the result.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGrassgrass December 30, 2020


Love this show and think 12 and up is a perfect age to watch this show
Adult Written byanonymest September 24, 2019

dawson,s creek review

reviwing Dawson 's creek help me see why my engagement did not work out I always liked Dawson and i always wondered y i did not find that love in my teens... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRay_LeiGh05 October 27, 2020

Best series ever and... a bonus at the end of my review for parents

I personally think this is a really good show for teens, It is funny, sad, joyful, etc... it really relates to most teen lives. I would recommend this show to a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDancer-1232008 April 27, 2021

Dawson’s Creek

This show is amazing. My mom was into it when she was about my age and she told me to watch it and now I really enjoy it. It talks about some mature subjects, b... Continue reading

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate