Sex on The Creek: An LGBT Creek

From the beginning being gay was part of the autobiographical nature of The Creek. As a trail blazing LGBT program it faced prejudice with humor and positivity. I imagine an alternative reality where there is a gay version of the Creek: Jack’s Creek. Where Queer As Folk meets Dawson’s Creek. I may be straight, but I’d watch the crap out of that show. Either way The Creek served to change the way LGBT people were perceived on television by its creator.

Kevin Williamson


First of all Kevin Williamson is one of my heroes. I religiously loved the Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and the Dawson’s Creek series. After the runaway success of Scream, Williamson was given an opportunity to write a television series about his childhood. The small town where he grew up – where the Leery home was just down the road – where Williamson’s father was a fisherman and where his best friend would row over to his house. He sat down to weave a fictional version of his life based on himself and his best friends. Access Hollywood  reported in 2015 at the ‘Dawson’s Creek’ ATX Writers’ Room Recap:

“Every single character is one of my personalities,” Williamson explained, noting he was the poor kid from the wrong side of the creek and looked up to icons like Steven Spielberg. Joey was the jokester, while Jen (Michelle Williams) was the broken bird. At the time, the only thing that represented Williamson being gay was in naming Katie Holmes’ character “Joey.” He admitted “I always knew Jack was going to come out of the closet,” but never told actor Kerr Smith until they wrote the script.

As you look at it autobiographically, there are many aspects of his life in these characters. I would argue that the earlier episodes where of his teenage years and the later characters in his twenties.

Joey’s Character

That last quote was a clue about Joey. Joey was based on his best friend growing up called Fannie Norwood, Williamson recalled:

“She would come over and she would spend the night for years. Her parents knew it, my parents knew it. It was like your best buddy staying over. I feel much richer as a result of it.”


Williamson would often confide in his friend Fannie. When episodes of Dawson’s Creek were televised he would watch them with her or when he was busy talk on the phone about their inside jokes. I believe Fannie was the girl next door who was in love with Kevin, Kevin who was obsessed with film and clueless about her desires. In a 1998 interview with CNN Fannie Norwood recalls:

“We were friends for a long, long time. And I guess kind of like that sexual tension was building up a little bit. We took longer than one season, you know, to get together. We were best friends for the longest time. It took a very long time.”

Obviously this interview was before Williamson came out of the closet to Hollywood. This is why Fannie hides the fact he was gay. We also get a clue that they “get together” or had some confusing sexual experience described in terms of time passing. We know they were close friends for years and it was not until his twenties Williamson came out to his supportive parents. Must have been just as confusing for the young Fannie who always loved Kevin and I imagine was supportive coming out to his parents. She was the first person that would have known this truth and the intimacy that weaves their lives together.

Jack’s Character


Bustle Magazine claimed  ‘Jack was one of the first LGBT characters on network television.’ Jack was a more idealized version of Williamson. Where Williamson in his teenage years was more like Dawson and experienced the messiness of relationships. By August of 1999, in an article by `Heat’ Magazine, they posed the question did Williamson use Jack to come out of the closet:

I don’t see where I serve myself, or anyone else, to scream at the top of my lungs that I’m gay. Jack handles it all in a way that was much more intelligent than mine. He has a level of insight that I didn’t particularly have at that age. I was welcomed with open arms by my parents.

Doesn’t matter if Williamson preferred a less obvious debutant. We use fiction to express a narrative of our lives. Williamson used the support from his friends and his family to help other young gay men find support in their lives. Who could forget Jack coming out to his father, using the internet to meet his boyfriend, or build bridges to his sister and father? Not only did this support people in real life. It created an audience that wanted prime time LGBT television. Now we have The Fosters, The Vampire Diaries, Transparent, Glee, Queer as Folk, The L Word, etc.

Smith says he “experienced almost nothing negative,” with the exception of some picketers who stood outside the North Carolina studio after learning that Jack was a gay character.

It’s a reminder of the attitudes of where they were filming and the general acceptance by fans: sure Dawson’s Creek aired the first gay kiss on primetime television, but they also had to film it across the street due to broadcasting standards. As Kerr reflects fondly about forging a positive LGBT character:

“It was a big decision for me back then, but I think I made the right one. I’m proud of the work that we did. The fact that people are still thinking about it kind of proves that.”

Gender Mix Script Reading

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Now we find ourselves in the new age: where gender is reinvented and performed. Even though transgender issues were not explored in the series. Williamson remedies this by surprising the audience on the final day of the ATX Writers Festival in June of 2015. The cast read the original pilot of Dawson’s Creek using different genders. Kevin Williamson, Kerr Smith and other stars of stage and screen including Mae Whitman (star of  The DUFF and Arrested Development) who performed brilliantly and hilariously as a female Dawson Leery. 

The Gay Porno


Description: Young Dawson’s daydreams turn into reality when he and his classmates get into some hot and heavy bonding. They all lust for Dawson, but who will get him in the end?

It’s interesting how Dawson’s Creek was parodied by porn as early as the year 2000. It’s fascinating how it came into the lives of the cast members too. Part of a prank – Joshua Jackson tried to replace one of the posters on set with a promotional poster for Dawson’s Crack: 

“Way back in the day, in Dawson’s bedroom, he had this movie poster,” Jackson says. “I was driving through Boystown and there was this movie theater that had Dawson’s Crack in it, and you can imagine what that would be. It took me months to get this poster, but I finally got it, and in his bedroom, when he comes back to the next season of the show … there’s two guys taking care of each other.”

This would have been hilarious to have been onset that day and believe me I wish I was there.

Later in life James Van Der Beek was caught owning one of these video cassettes. Not being gay himself, he claimed it was a hilarious reminder of the series and wanted to bring it back to North Carolina. Could you imagine sitting around the couch, having a few beers on a cold winter’s night, winds howling from the coast, reminiscing about staring in a hit television series in your twenties and then James “accidentally” puts on the porno on a VHS player? While the rest of the cast cry with laughter. It shows how James Van Der Beek now uses this porno to not take the series so seriously as did when he was younger – I mean he did reveal being caught with it by Customs on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

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Sex on The Creek: First Episode

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What is fascinating is the way film and sexuality overlap in life. Opportunities to discuss sexual desire interlace film and television and fiction. From the very first episode sexuality was part of the DNA of The Creek. The way teenagers pair off and intellectualize desire.

1. Teenagers talking about sex. The honesty discussing sex by teenagers was shocking in the 1990s by the moral majority, they were subject to censors and according Pacey’s Creek Podcast had lost a major prime time sponsor (that turned out to be an investor of the show). It’s hard to imagine that sex was so controversial in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Then again cut to two underage teenagers on a double bed discussing genitalia… 

2. Walk your dog. This was a time when censors made television writers use confusing sexual innuendoes. In the late 1990s Williamson was not able to outrightly say masturbation. In our age of pornography and safe sex websites, it’s hard to imagine this was a reality.


3. Arrival of the new girl. I still find it revealing when Jen’s dress rides up, walking in slow motion, Joey greets her with a lethal dose of sarcasm and jealousy. Despite the friendly North Carolina introduction there is something more adult about this encounter: the rock ballad, the wind swept hair, the lapping creek on the pier and teenagers formally shaking hands. 

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4. Parental sex. One of the earliest scenes, also in the pilot, Dawson catches his parents just before they have sex on the family wicker coffee table. Dawson’s coitus interruptus. Finds himself avoiding a world of sexual desire and embarrassment. It’s no wonder Dawson escapes into the fantasy world of film. 

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5. Affairs. Gale’s affair is teased by the end of the first episode. Was it a commentary on the prevalence of divorce in the 1990s? Underneath the idyllic parental sex life is Gale’s polyamory. We find out later Mitch is morally destroyed by this truth, but Gale keeps loving him and is confused by her desire. Beyond the morality there is a confused polyamorous character that failed to communicate her desires honestly to her partner.

6. Food and sex. The repetition of Bodie and his orgasmic dish. The African American boyfriend verged on controversial, although this part didn’t shock Grams particularly. Cut to later episodes where Pacey is a chef and makes love to the restaurant manager. What is this link between sex and food? I’ve always been confused by this connection. Is it some sort of oral confusion? Either way, it adds to the erotic aspect of the show.

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7. Teenage fantasy. The sexy older woman troupe. Tamara was from the beginning a femme fatale. Cue the smooth jazz, the slow motion, light cascading behind her. Her coquettish reference to The Graduate. We know Tamara used this fantasy to feel desired. The teenager looks to the older woman because they hold the keys to carnal knowledge. Secrets veiled in film about the older woman seducing the younger man.

8. Teacher and student. Tamara and Pacey’s relationship seems natural, but in North America this is a felony. Just this year, May of 2016, a story of a Pennsylvania teacher had sex with a High School student in a cemetery. Cut to the fourth episode “Discovery” where Pacey and Tamara has sex in the sculpture garden: it’s blurred, close ups and slowed down to get past the censors. Should we be more shocked by this relationship unfolding as we watch as adults?

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9. Jealousy. This desire creates urgency. Joey pushes Jen away. Dawson pulls Jen closer. Dawson gets intimidated by Roger Fulford and later Cliff Elliot, uses transgender jokes to dismantle tension. Jealousy edges on danger and pushes the immediacy. Reminds me of Sigmund Freud claiming sex and death is part of a death drive that compels us to engage in risky behaviour as characters lead themselves into self-destruction. Or simply put teenagers.

10. Women Discussing Penis Size. It’s still funny to hear teenage girls use sex to shock: Jen tries to make Grams say penis and Joey jokes about virginity in public. It’s still shocking how obsessed Joey was about penis length. This is in contrast to her character that could only hint at her actual desires. 

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11. Dawson is sexually regressive. His life in movies prevents him from developing a sexual relationship. His version of sex is seen through the camera. For Tamara, film is a way to express sexuality, but for Dawson it’s a way to control it. Williamson is either commentating on the stifled sexuality of the 1990s male or parodying its developmental confusion.

12. Girl Next Door. Dawson doesn’t want Joey from the beginning, his fantasy is for the new girl and Joey wants to explore what is close. The troupe for Joey combines friendship, commonality and sexuality. The desire is there, but masked in anger, frustration and jealousy. No wonder she has to let out her sexual aggression on rowing back to the Potter’s house.

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13. Film dates. Part of any American first date starts with a movie. It’s a rite of passage. Meeting a girl’s parents. Dressing up. Being lost in the dark. Brushing someone’s hand. Kissing a girl under the porch light. Film acts as a script, as a way to show how the boy gets the girl, the tension that lead to the first kiss and the promise they will live happily ever after. It’s hard not to be retrospective. When we take that girl to cinema, nervously philosophize about some film and then walk her to her door. 

Why Joey Can’t Be With Dawson in Our Reality?

Some days I wish I was young and still living on The Creek. When I was out walking the other day I thought I prefer these fictional realities. I know this particular blog seems negative, but I’m curious why our world isn’t more like The Creek. When I grew up I left my friends in a small country town near the coast. When I went to Boston University I first got a glimpse of this reading Arthur Schopenhauer’s Proof for a philosophy class:

“Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. Consequently, since a worse world could not continue to exist, it is absolutely impossible; and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds.”


According to Quantum Mechanics, or even decent Science Fiction, our universe is not necessarily the best the universe has to offer. See my post about Dawson’s Creek and Parallel World Theory that explores these possibilities. More importantly it leaves you a little happier for reading it. No matter where we live Jen is not moving towards you in slow motion and your beautiful best friend is worried she is attracted to you. Reality branches from our reality into better possibilities, more ideal universes: one where Schrödinger’s cat is licking her owner’s hand and Erwin Schrödinger is running off to the chemical shower in terror. One where Joey marries Dawson, one where Mitch is alive, or one where Joshua Jackson plays Dawson.


Since this universe is close to not existing, an asymptote to non-existence, it is far from an ideal universe. No matter what happens Dawson will never stay with Joey. We are educated to believe in free will, but when you look at your life as an adult, is this really the case? In this universe we may never observe a non-deterministic event, so how is free-will possible? In this world you were always going to make that decision to buy that make of car and that color of phone and kiss that girl in high school. No wonder Joey and Dawson can paradoxically be in love each other and equally never meant to be together. Take Jen’s fatalistic character. She was fated to become homecoming queen like her mother. In The Creek women cannot escape the fate of becoming their mothers. Again in the Thanksgiving episode Jen, her mother and Gram call each other mother in a fatalistic sense.


Better universes spurt off from this reality into ideal possibilities, but by their possibility these universes show how non-ideal and deterministic this reality is. I want a world where Joey marries Dawson, Pacey marries Andy, Mitch is alive and happy with Gale and Grandpa wakes up to a praying Grams. I agree with Schopenhauer that our imagination creates the ideal reality, splintered from the bad decisions of this un-ideal universe, but these universes only serve to show how “worse” this reality is. Some days I think about a more idealistic universe, one were we don’t die but we are born at the end of our lives. One where I refuse to go to Boston University, stay in that small costal city and marry that girl I met in church. Who knows, when I go to a cafe, meet an old friend, read an old copy of Kierkegaard or watch an episode of The Creek on iTunes, I really don’t care that my life turned out the way it did. I’m just glad you read this and maybe you feel like you are meant to be in the life you have learned to love. 

Dawson’s Creek & Parallel World Theory

Some days I think to myself: I wonder if I was a character on Dawson’s Creek. Maybe I went to church with Grams. Maybe I worked across the road from the video store at the cafe, serving coffee to Tamara grading papers. Maybe I worked at Capeside Coffee and Tea Company serving a burger to Andie. I’m pretty sure I was a year behind the gang at Capeside High. Who knows maybe in other worlds this happened.

Parallel World Theory

Parallel World Theory is the elegant idea that an infinite possibility of worlds actually existed and somehow they are interacting with each other. Professor of Physics Howard Wiseman claims ‘In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made.’  Kevin Williamson created a fictional representation of a world that existed in the hearts of many of us. Williamson based the show on his life. So you know these theories are more plausible than other fictions or histories. One moment were fiction and reality converge is the episode where the pier outside the Leery home was destroyed in a hurricane, then the same thing happened in real life to the set. Another convergence is where Joey wants to watch Jerry Maguire, then in the next season Jonathan Lipnicki who stared in the film, turns up in the show, and then later in life Katie Holmes marries Tom Cruise.700px-Schroedingers_cat_film.svg.png

“Discovery” and “True Love”

What is interesting is early on, in “Discovery” Dawson and Joey sit in the water garden pontificating. In this scenario they imagine they are at a wedding, they were married for 50 years, although they brought dates. As the crickets grew louder and the camera moves closer to our characters experiencing an intimate moment. Even then they would look to each other and then to the dates and back again. Then Dawson says something strange, ‘it gets so so so hazy I can’t remember.’ As if the future was a distant memory in the past. In an alternate reality with the future is the past and the ideal reality is a murky memory.

In a way Jen is far more aware of multiverse in “True love” where she says, ‘This is some alternate reality where intellects are sharper, quips are the wittier and hearts are repeatedly broken, while faintly in the background some soon to be out of date contempo-pop music plays.’ A world just out of our reach, slightly more verbose, where teenagers sit on the bed talking about Freud, Spielberg and Parallel World Theory.


Copenhagen interpretation

There are many permutations of the Creek or the Copenhagen interpretation: in different worlds we sit down to watch Dawson’s Creek, Pacey’s Creek and Joey’s Creek and every one of them our mothers complained the television would ruin our eyes. It is interesting in our day and age, we have Pacey’s Creek on Twitter and a podcast of the same name. These interpretations are within our series, in our world The Creek flows around Dawson, but it also cascades around Pacey and Joey. What is noteworthy, is if you look at a map of Joey’s house in North Carolina, it appears first, travels to Dawson, then to Pacey and then to the sea. The Creek-Verse could be, in a Wiseman sense, analogous to “branching” from Joey’s Brook, to Dawson’s Creek, to Pacey’s Estuary, all the way to a world flowing with possibility.


The Creeks

If I can rest on Joey’s Brook, just on the Potter’s pier to contemplate the way her character is more resolved. Joey experiences everything she desires: an alternative prom, the B&B, the college, the job, the wall, both her lovers and marriage. Pacey’s Estuary is a close third. Most fans wish it was Pacey’s Creek by the very notion that he gets the girl. For a whole season the main protagonist was put on the back burner as we explore Pacey’s relationship with Joey. It goes even further when in another interpretation of our world, Joshua Jackson was Dawson. Turns out Jackson auditioned for Dawson and Pacey was Dawson in these worlds. Even by the final season, Williamson had no idea who Joey going to be with and finally decided to go with Pacey.


Dawson/Joey/Pacey Quantum Entanglement

In my Strange Theories blog I suggested that Dawson, Joey and Pacey are soulmates. Early in the show Joey wonders ‘Do you think every Joey has a Dawson and every Dawson has a Joey?’ Could this be our best indication of a self-aware parallel world theory? Do we connect to The Creek because on every permutation of the universe there are Dawson’s and Joeys in every single one. Suggesting a Dawson/Joey/Pacey Quantum Entanglement. Gale takes no stock in “eternal coupling” because to her faith is more important. Even in the next scene, the camera cuts to Joey and Pacey, implying quite the opposite. In this world parents fail to achieve this coupling state, e.g. Mitch and Gale, or Grams and her dying husband. Kevin Williamson confirms this quantum entanglement in an interview where he believed ‘in a way they all end up together.’ Making his decision to choose Pacey very difficult.


Berenst(e)ain Bear Factor

In our interpretation, according to Arthur Schopenhauer, we have the worst of worlds (Why Joey Can’t Be With Dawson) and that is why we have the worst version of The Creek. That is why in our world Joey is the Worst. Maybe in other worlds Joey is the best and Jen is the worst. More importantly our universe is the reason the Dawson/Joey/Pacey coupling are continuously un-bound, making it ever more difficult for any relationship to stay together. One thing that comes to mind is the “Mandela Effect” [to a lesser extent the berenst(e)ain bear factor] where ‘someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality.’ For me, when I close my eyes and forget the ending, doesn’t Dawson end up with Joey? Dawson has sex with Joey for the first time? Dawson ends up marrying Joey? Pacey comes home from the madhouse with Andy? Pacey and Andy live happily ever after? Jack marries his boyfriend? And Mitch is alive to give them all away? Maybe your interpretation is different and reflects a more ideal world. It’s fun to think about these things as possibilities that flow from our tiny brook to a chaotic sea.

Last time on Joey’s Creek

Themes in The Creek

If you are reading this, then there was something personal about Dawson’s Creek to you. A self reflexive teleplay about the nature of television. These are themes I found watching the television series recently. If there were themes you found, please leave them in the comment section:


The teenagers in the Creek experience rapid change from high school to college. Dealing with sexuality, anxiety and their emotions. Despite the constant breakdown of family and rearranging blended families. The show attempted to create new relationships. Family break down, divorce, crime, death. It blends and repairs and then breaks down again. For Dawson, the biggest crack is his parents affair, separation and eventual death. At college they naturally drift apart, reunite and then disappear. Take Grams. Her character goes from conservative Christian to progressive Gameboy™ playing grandmother. She is an example of the diversity of America: anyone can surprise us and challenge our beliefs. 




The language was self-referential and verbose. Dawson’s Creek defined the teenager of the late 1990s. Language was how teenagers navigated their universe. Sarcasm was the way we negotiated conflict. ‘Talking it out of existence,’ as Dawson says after having sex with Joey for the first time. Language was more than talking, interconnecting literature, music and film. Jack becomes a literature teacher, Joey an editor (and dating a writer), and Dawson becomes the head of a writing team. Culminating in the ultimate meta-television show: specifically the wedding sequence: dreaming of Dawson marrying Joey, switching the title to The Creek (and the title of this Blog). Dawson’s Creek is the journey through the modern American usage: from middle school, through high school, college and adulthood. The trials of high school, getting into a prestigious university and even Pacey’s vocational training as a chef (All areas of life I have personally experienced.). 




As we think about watching the show we think about childhood. Problems tackled and memes unfairly generalized. The way adults act like children and the way children are forced into responsibility. Joey repeats in The Longest Day, ‘Ever have one of those days that you wish you could live over again?’ Eternal recurrence of childhood. A writer’s troupe. Those of us who were teenagers in the late 1990s and early 2000s felt old. Self-aware of growing up. Mentors disappoint us on The Creek. Adults fail us. Adults are children refusing to grow up. Grams learns to enjoy life moving to Boston with Jen, Dawson demands his parents stop acting like children, Joey’s sister fires her so she can finish school, and Jenn moves to Capeside because she was growing up too fast.  


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The program was always about sexuality; it was controversial at the time. It was about responsibility in the backdrop of AIDS, anxiety and safe-sex talks. Sex was quickly realized and comically over-analyzed. Then after the year 2000 we have the first gay kiss on prime time television, Jen discussing having sex at 13 years old on drugs, Joey and Pacey consensual sex at the worst supervised school trip conceived. By the mid 5th Season the sex scenes became more complicated. Grams with the older gentleman, Joey with Wilder, Dawson with the film critic and Pacey with the manager of the restaurant. They are mostly destructive. Relationships begin with friendships, evolve romantically, distanced, romanticized and then evolved into friendships. The most mature view of sexuality. As Dawson says in the Thanksgiving episode: friends, family (and lovers) are the same thing.



Menage a trois

A menage a trois is the French idea that three people occupy the same household. Often used in French cinema such as Jules et Jim (1962). We see The Creek asks a similar question: how many people can we love in this lifetime? We are generally monogamous, but if we do not take a linear view of time then this is not the case for most Americans. The basic parody of heterosexuality like the references to Jules et Jim with marriage, youth, gender and jealousy. The film director character, Brooks, explains this in more detail about love triangles: ‘there are three stories in film: guy meets girl, girl meets guy, guy loses girl.’ Despite knowing you have always loved someone in your heart, you can still have relationships with others and still have that sweetheart in your heart.




What is more postmodern than the metafictional autobiography of a film writer after the success of his films. Williamson then had the opportunity to make a fictional reality in television. Where film, college, literature with parodies of film. This world that never existed in America, even A Winter’s Tale, Jack is curious about the failure of his “John Hughes’ dream.” What is more of an anti-idealistic film than television. Take the set in the final season: Dawson recreates his home for the Boston Strangler. A reference to Williamson recreating Dawson’s Creek from his childhood. He echoes the same troupe in Scream (1996) referenced in a similar way in the studio in Scream 3 (2000). This is analogous to watching a film on an old cathode ray television, in the wrong ratio, poor resolution of our own postmodern childhood.



Hope is a pattern, a schema. Tragedy, conflict, disappointment, anger, acceptance and finding a new path. Sometimes hope destroys the characters. Dawson’s love for Joey is overwhelming, the hope of starting again, this hope inherently stilted. When Tobey is waiting for Jack, he asks Jen where does the fantasy of a man that wrongs you, begs you to come back and says you are my universe come from? Jen answers: ‘television, movies, that little place in our hearts that has hope.’ The stockbroker character expresses the same thing, they are ‘in the business of selling hope, the thing that courses through your veins.’ What does Dawson say when Pacey asks do you think we can ever be friends again? Dawson says anything is possible. And it is that hope that carries within us, the strength to be literary, to be self-referential and understand ourselves in a digital age. These were some of the ideas we used to discuss about The Creek that reflected our childhood, transition, adulthood and television.