He is the quintessential Pisces. Hardly a cooincidence. Kevin Williamson, the creator of the show, is a Pisces. James Vanderbeek who played Dawson is a Pisces. Kevin Williamson was ready to move heaven and earth to have James cast as Dawson. Is it any wonder the stereotypical characteristics of the Pisces are such a dominant theme in this series.

What does that mean?

  • Dawson is a dreamer
  • He is meek
  • When he wants to he can be quite the charmer
  • He can be diplomatic
  • He’s empathic
  • He is nice and friendly
  • He seems to be a pushover, but can be intolerably stubborn when he has his mind set on something
  • He hurts others, but rarely intentionally
  • Although always friendly and kind he can be very judgemental
  • He is loyal to a fault
  • He is deeply romantic and can go years and years pining for a lost love
  • He has an obsessive, but not exactly effective, drive to make people feel good and to share what he sees as beautiful with others
  • Although seemingly focussed on meaning something to others in a selfless way it often turns out he is controlling, expects a lot in return for the joy he brings to people’s lives
  • He kinda sucks at giving people orders and being a authority figure until he finally snaps and for a brief moment can play the dictator
  • Chases something and then doesn’t know what to do with it once he has it
  • He is self-analyzing non-stop and also beating himself up pretty much all the time
  • He lives more in the past than in the future
  • He makes for a rather passive, submissive partner
  • He may be saving his energy for only those few moments for when it really matters
  • He tends not to count his blessings and focusses on what he lacks

As to Dawson specifically:

  • He desperately wants to be a movie maker, but he has nothing to say. How often do other characters on the show call his work ‘derivative’? Rather often.
  • He claims to want sex, but that doesn’t really speak from his actions. For a long time it even seems he dislikes sex. Throughout the first four seasons Dawson’s Creek as a show is radically opposed to casual sex. Dawson is often the cheerleader of that idea. More than Grams even. He is not the most moralizing character in a show full of moralizing characters. That accolade goes to Joey.
  • As a film maker his main talent seems to be creating a kind of documentary out of his own life. Not surprising since that is what the creator of the show did to some extent. At the end this is also confirmed since Dawson’s major success happens to be a fictional show that is exactly like Dawson’s Creek. So this is basically a man whose life is all about reliving his formative years over and over again.
  • Maybe Dawson’s main characteristic is that he wants to have things to be the same forever. At the start of the show Dawson is like the absolute monarch of his own little ideal kingdom. The order of this realm gets disrupted in many different ways. The rest of the show seems to be his attempt to recreate that blissful realm. He doesn’t succeed in real life, but he succeeds in the fictional world by creating a series based on those halcyon days.
  • At one point Jen complains about how easily he gives up when he tries to seduce her into having sex with him. Dawson isn’t asexual, but it does seem he would be better off with a woman who is sexually very dominant. Growing up his mother was the boss in the house, I think.
  • He’s attractive, but with his usual low energy he won’t be a womanizer any time soon. Not that he should be. He seems to genuinely be holding out for some pure, symbiotic relationship. This sounds sweet, but sometimes I got the feeling he needed his partner to make up for a some void in his personality. Like he needed them as a prop.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if after finishing his series he eventually ends up returning to Capeside to teach a film class in highschool and gives up his dream to become an innovative director. The creator of the show has hinted in interviews that he himself thinks Dawson’s career as a famous film director didn’t pan out.
  • On the show he is interesting in the first season, but as of the second season Pacey and Joey start stealing the show. James Vanderbeek has suggested in interviews that the show went downhill after the second season, but that makes sense from his perspective. His character started playing second fiddle. The stories of Pacey, Joey, Jack and at times even the story of Jen became more interesting than the story of Dawson. His part in the show gets kinda summed up in that famous gif of him crying as Joey runs off to Pacey to join him on an impromptu cruise on a boat. He’s an onlooker as the other characters develop faster than he does. As the show goes on he becomes less and less energetic. He’s never more charismatic than in the first season.
  • He’s a good guy. He struggles with his demons by playing his own analyst. Maybe he needed a really great mentor. He goes through several mentors on the show. Like Mr. Brooks for example. His girlfriends often sound more like mentors than girlfriends.
  • Throughout the series he is humbled through his experiences. His dream girl dumps him. Repeatedly. Some of his movies get scorchingly bad feedback. His mother has an affair with her co-anchor. His father dies. His best friend runs off with aforementioned dream girl. The same best friend burns through his money reserve with a risky investment decision. It’s not easy being Dawson. He quietly trudges on. He keeps working. He accepts that he is not going to be an overnight success. And that even if he realizes his dream to be a director he will probably be no Spielberg. In a world that dearly lacks humility that is still an inspiring example. Dawson’s Creek has lots of positive messages. Bad things happen, but there is always a bittersweet lesson eventually. American series are full of moralizing. Remember Full House? Boy, they were really on the nose about lecturing the audience.
  • Of all the characters he does have the easiest road. Sure, it’s very painful to be an artist not knowing how to express yourself so people will listen, but still, he has the luxury to be a struggling movie maker. None of the characters are politically engaged. Dawson doesn’t stand for any particular political cause. Maybe this is partly because it was made exactly at a time that the world seemed quiet. The show started right after the end of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and ended about two months after the US invaded Iraq with all the fallout that entailed. It’s around that time the US started its descent into being a highly polarized society. It’s also a show that ended right before social media gave the worst of us a forum they had never had before. There is a cosy innocence to Dawson’s Creek that would be entirely unrealistic if the show were to be made today. Dawson is innocent. If at the start of the show he is an unruly puppy chewing at everything at the end of the show he is a bit of a meek work horse. Am not sure if many fans ended the show screaming: ‘Oh, I wish I was just like Dawson!!’. And that’s good. Dawson is a unique character of flesh and blood. He’s a decent human being. In the end he did what he could with what he was given. Something we should all aspire to.
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