Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dawson's Creek: Double Date (1.11)

Love triangles are a tradition of the teen genre. Hell, they're a tradition of fiction in general. It's a pretty easy method for creating an enraptured fanbase, as well as something that instantly propels a modern television series into pop culture. But after just eleven episodes, it really feels like Dawson's Creek has played out the Dawson/Jen/Joey triangle, especially where Jen is concerned. This is another episode involving Dawson pining after Jen, once again creating some elaborate ruse to get close to her. In the process, the show sifts through themes that are already repetitive, and again Dawson is portrayed as a manipulative asshole.

The episode sees Dawson drag an oblivious classmate into an awkward double date with Jen and Cliff, creating an annoying pissing contest in which Dawson competes for Jen's affections at the Capeside carnival. When his date, Mary Beth, stumbles upon the ruse, he horribly lies to her again, contriving yet another story in order to keep her around. It's another ugly manipulative streak appearing within Dawson, going against his earlier pledge to stop treating his life like a movie and orchestrating the actions of his friends. Continuity is still flailing wildly on this show, and it's really beginning to bug.

The triangle may work on a superficial level, but struggles to be anything deeper. The same isn't so true of the burgeoning Dawson/Joey/Pacey triangle, Joey and Pacey sharing an amusingly flirtatious subplot here that immediately steals the show. Dawson and Jen's 'thing' is essentially based on the idea of attraction -- Dawson liking this perky, blonde, experienced outsider, and Jen digging this fumbling, awkward and apparently sweet-natured goober. Joey and Pacey, on the other hand, are rapidly discovering new layers to their personalities, experiencing feelings that they never thought they would share for each other. Right now it's sudden and new, but the attraction is palpable, and the two of them have a relaxed, easy banter that far outweighs the doomed puppy love of Dawson and Joey. It's nice.

Double Date is half a good episode -- one half neatly experimenting with the stale romantic entanglements already set up, the other still in deep with said entanglements as they linger around the corners of the show like a ghost that just won't go away. C+

Guest stars Megahn Perry (Mary Beth); Scott Foley (Cliff Elliot)
Writer Jon Harmon Feldman Director David Semel

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