Cue Paula Cole! Ever since Dawson’s Creek premiered in 1998, the show became a favorite among fans and remains one of the most popular teen dramas to ever hit the small screen.
The series followed the life of Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), a tomboy who is just trying to make it through high school following the death of her mother. Luckily, she had best friend Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek) and his sidekick, Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson). In the premiere episode, Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams) arrived in town — a new girl from New York City who not-so-seamlessly made her way into the group and changed everything. The series was created by Scream writer Kevin Williamson, who based the script off his own experiences growing up in a small town.
“I remember loving the script. I remember thinking everyone was amazing,” Van Der Beek told Entertainment Weekly in 2018 when the cast got back together to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. “All the actors were perfectly cast.”
Jackson echoed the thought, adding, “I enjoyed the fact that, being a kid at that time, playing a kid who wasn’t an idiot or the precocious one, we never insulted the audience by dumbing us down in order to be believable teenagers.”
Over the six seasons, many new characters came and went. Jen’s grandmother, Grams (Mary Beth Peil), appeared in all six seasons. Brother and sister duo Jack and Andie McPhee, played by Kerr Smith and Meredith Monroe, respectively, joined in season 2. Dawson’s parents, Mitch and Gale Leery (John Wesley Shipp and Mary-Margaret Humes) were also key parts of the show. For the final two seasons, Busy Philipps‘ Audrey Liddell joined as Joey’s college roommate.
The show didn’t shy away from hot topics, tackling everyday situations in a way shows hadn’t done previously. In 2000, the show aired the first passionate same-sex kiss between two men — and it wasn’t an easy task.
“A day before filming, the WB asked if the scene could be shot from across the street. They didn’t want it to be ‘too passionate,’” the episode’s cowriter Gina Fattore previously told Us Weekly exclusively. “There was no backup plan. The main thing I remember is Greg [Berlanti] calling me that morning and yelling at me like he was an old-time movie mogul: ‘This has to be a real kiss! I want to see passion.’ He couldn’t be on set that day, but the scene was so important to him, and I knew that I had to be his eyes and ears, and make sure the footage we got would work.”
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Scroll through the gallery below to see where the cast is today: