Greatest TV Characters - Dawson Leery from Dawson's Creek

The second in a brand new regular feature for The Digital Fix, we look at some of television's greatest TV characters. We continue with a look back at the iconic teenage Spielbergian romantic Dawson Leery from Dawson's Creek as the show celebrates its 20th anniversary...

The Character

Dawson Leery was played by James Van Der Beek from 1998 until 2013 on Dawson's Creek. Starting at the fledgling age of 15, Dawson Leery was the eternal optimist, a dreamer of cinematic dreams who wanted his perfect ending and happy ever ending. As we all know that live in the real world, that hardly ever happens. He was a character that all of us at 15 wanted to be, wanted to speak dialogue like him and wanted to live in his perfect cookie cutter Capeside home. He got the girl, lost the girl, pined after the girl, dated the other girl so many times it made the viewer dizzy to say the least. As a Spielberg fan, he always returned to the directors films to get answers for his 'world ending' romantic lifestyle choices and tried to script his own life in the form of a movie.

His Journey

Over the space of six seasons the character of Dawson didn't change a huge amount. As a precocious 15 year old teen to a filmmaker at the end of season 6, his journey was a proverbial rollercoaster but he always remained the eternal dreamer. Who he is, and wants to be, is who he is at the end, near enough. He wanted to be a filmmaker and at the end of Season Six, he is. What he isn't at the end is with the girl. Joey ends up with Pacey and the viewer realises that that was always supposed to be the case. Season one begins with the flowering of Dawson and Joey's pubescent love pangs, side tracked by bad girl from New York, Jen, and at the seasons end, they kiss, and it's all downhill from there.

Season Two begins with them steering their way through the emotional landscape of first love and Dawson gets what he always wanted, the girl next door but after awhile the rot starts in and they split up. What happens over the next few seasons is the realisation that Dawson and Joey were always supposed to remain friends, best of friends but never romantically,  through Dawson dating Gretchin (Pacey's sister) and Pacey realising he has feelings for Joey as well.

Why he is such a great character

Dawson's Creek came to me in the winter of 1998 just at the cusp at my own dalliances with the opposite sex. As I journeyed through the emotional landscape of a first girlfriend so was Dawson. The emotions he felt, I felt, the questions I had, he had. I used to watch the show with a wide eye gaze looking for answers and occasionally coming away from with even more questions.

I argue that Dawson Leery is a great TV character because at some point in our lives, especially if you are male, you have been Dawson Leery. You've had the first pangs of young love, the break ups, the make ups, the scary discussions about losing your virginity and the inability to speak what you truly feel. We are all eternally optimistic and as the embodiment of that and more, Dawson Leery stands above all others.

Greatest Quotes

I'm an artist, torture is a prerequisite (Dance - season One)

If we weren't so afraid to let go, we wouldn't feel so free when we finally did (A Winter's Tale - season Four)

You and I were meant to be. Period. Cue happy ending music.(Be Careful What You Wish For - Season Two)


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