First, let's get this out of the way, I faithfully, and somewhat begrudgingly, watched Dawson's Creek from somewhere in the middle of Season Two (catching what I missed in reruns) to the series finale. I couldn't stop watching, even as Season Three sucked the cleverness out of the series, which it never fully recovered from. Even as I groaned in pain and yelled at the television screen. Even as I asked myself, "Why am I watching this?"
The answer to that question is a combination of the consistency of the schedule (Wednesdays at 7pm Central) and the hope it would one day recapture some of the addictive magic of the first two seasons. Before you roll your eyes...again...there was a scene early in Season Two where Dawson and Pacey are talking about girls while having their hair streaked in a salon, and at the same time Joey and her sister are talking about boys while changing a tire on a pick-up truck. It was a brilliantly played reversal of stereotypical gender roles that did not contradict the nature of the characters, but sadly that cleverness faded away in Season Three...until the series finale.
In my personal opinion, the series finale captured that clever, fun spirit of the first two seasons. Even if you didn't like that one of the four main characters died (I was ok with it because there was symmetry to the character's overall story), and even if you didn't like who Joey ended up with as the love of her life (I was pleased with her choice mainly because I had come to loathe the other option), the finale was well-written because the characters didn't behave out of character and the dialogue popped. (Thank you, Kevin Williamson) Plus, there were some nice surprises, for example, the man Jack ended up with.
Second, let's get to the rule, because even though I thoroughly enjoyed the finale, I questioned if I suffered through too many seasons of pain and torture to make it worthwhile. To make certain I would never willingly experience such concerns again, I came up with one simple rule that can be applied to any television series, scripted or otherwise. I suppose it could also be adapted to include a series of films or books.
THE DAWSON'S CREEK RULE states that if you are yelling at the fictional characters and situations in a television series more than you are enjoying them, you must stop watching immediately.
I have enacted this rule on a few series, including 24 and The Walking Dead. Undoubtedly there will be more televised casualties in the future, but currently everything I watch is safe...maybe.
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