Why you should care
If you don’t want to set sail with your significant other on a boat called “True Love,” you have no heart. If you don’t like Pacey and Joey together, you have no soul.
Have you ever felt that a TV relationship borderline ruined you for future real-life relationships? No? Well then you clearly have not spent enough time watching season four of Dawson’s Creek, starring Katie Holmes as Joey Potter and Joshua Jackson as Pacey Witter.
I recently started binge nostalgia-watching Dawson’s Creek, taking me back to my high school days when I fan-girled out on it. (Okay, still fan-girling). I remember when shy, yet witty good girl Joey fell for charming underdog Pacey, once just Dawson’s BFF sidekick. I originally was what show creator Kevin Williamson refers to as a “Dawson/Joey purist,” since the show had established that these two childhood best friends were soulmates. But when Dawson asked Pacey to “look after her” in the wake of his split from Joey, something shifted.
Katie Holmes (Joey) and Joshua Jackson (Pacey) had great onscreen chemistry and even dated in real life when they first filmed the series. Holmes referred to Jackson as her “first love” and said they developed a deep friendship.
The teen drama convincingly built up Joey and Pacey’s friendship, creating a foundation for a strong romance that simmered so slowly, you could almost hear teen girls screeching in relief when Pacey said he was tired of talking and grabbed Joey’s face for a mid-sentence smooch. When he kissed her the second time, he counted to ten first, just to make sure she was ready.
This wasn’t just an ordinary “good girl falls for bad boy” storyline. Pacey isn’t your stereotypical Hollywood bad boy. He was a loyal, attentive boyfriend whose only relationships before Joey were with his teacher (ok, creepy but on the teacher’s side not his) and Andie McPhee, his first love whom he supported through a mental illness. His “bad boy” qualities were related to his lack of academic ambition and his propensity to get into trouble when playing the hero.
In fact, Pacey is the most perfect TV boyfriend of all time. I didn’t realize it back in my high school days when I, like Miss Potter, was torn between which boy I should ’ship. Re-watching it now has made me realize a lot about the show (the characters really were a little too self-aware and vocab-obnoxious) but namely, that Pacey > Dawson. Why? Glad you asked.
Williamson still gets tweets about Pacey vs. Dawson.
Pacey buys (ok, rents) Joey a wall so that she can grow as an artist and as a person. He gives her the sweetest forehead kisses, which she returns. He, as any good PJ fan knows, brings her extra napkins at the movies so she doesn’t wipe popcorn grease on her jeans. He teaches her how to drive. He knows she is wearing her late mom’s bracelet at prom because he remembers everything. He, as a non-virgin teenage boy, stays on a sailboat with her for three months and respects her wishes to not sleep together — instead he reads her stories about mermaids.
He says things like, “The simple act of being in love with you is enough for me.” It’s no wonder that when Williamson returned to the show to write the series finale, at the very last minute he ended up pairing Joey with Pacey, despite his original intention of ending the show with Joey and Dawson reunited.
In the season three finale of the show, Pacey paints “Ask me to stay” on the wall he rented for Joey, an iconic Creek scene. Instead, she takes it one step further and ultimately goes with him on a sailing adventure for the summer. I hope this inspires you to cuddle up with Capeside’s cutest couple on Netflix, or even make a romantic summer love gesture of your own. Feel free to email me your thank-yous and PJ memes. I’ll be sitting here, fan-girling my heart out.