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The viewer positioning in television dramas play a very important and critical part in how the drama is portrayed to the audience, and hence this gives an idea on how successful the show will be. Dawsons Creek is a relatively new TV drama aimed at teenagers and the issues they face and have to deal with in society today. The viewer positioning, in relation to the shows themes, construction and values will be discussed and analysed. The Pilot episode (first episode of Dawsons Creek) will be referred back to in this essay, as this episode was what propelled Dawsons Creek into becoming the most watched teen show around the world and what made the actors/ actresses into instant stars.
Dawson’s Creek is about one boy’s coming of age journey and his lifelong friendship with a girl from a vastly different home life. The vivid and absorbing relationship between Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes) is at the core of the series. Best friends since they were small children, the two are faced with many new challenges ahead of them in their teenage years, ones that would not have arisen in their childhood days. One is sustaining their close friendship in spite of their budding romantic relationship, their emotional, physical and intellectual growth and the changing world around them.
Other than Dawson and Joey, the show also revolves around two other central characters, Jen and Pacey. Jen (Michelle Williams) has mysteriously come from New York to stay with her grandparents, but she clearly has an air of mystery surrounding her as she harbours a dark secret from her past. Dawson clearly lusts for her, but when Jen unveils some of her teenage experiences to Dawson, his feelings for her clearly change. Pacey (Joshua Jackson) has been Dawsons best friend, along with Joey, for some time. Pacey lives life fearlessly, and he is eager to discovery what life has laid out for him. His gift for sarcasm is matched only by knack for stumbling awkwardly and unprepared into adult situations. The four are engaged in an intriguing relationship, and are forced to deal with their feelings towards each other. Dawsons Creek is about their journey through life.
The show was conceived, developed and written by Kevin Williamson, who continues to serve as executive producer of the series. Dawson’s Creek presents a somewhat autobiographical and almost shockingly honest portrayal of teenage characters dealing with real-life issues. Williamson believes that today’s teenagers, who are exposed to an unprecedented amount of violence, sex, drugs and unsavory role models, are growing up fast. Dawson’s Creek is loosely based on Williamson’s real-life experiences growing up in rural North Carolina and the special relationship he shared with his own best friend. As it presents a very honest portrayal of the painful experiences of the teenage years interspersed with incredible moments of pure exhilaration, fun and joy, the show provides a fresh and gripping approach to the vast and diverse universal emotions associated with growing up. Never underestimating the 16-year-old mind, the series deals with sensitive issues that reflect the concerns of the four characters striving for self-awareness, while afraid of losing something special and not being able to find anything to replace it in the future.
The agony of surviving puberty intact, discovering their sexuality, unearthing their future and figuring out life in general are just some of the themes that surround the central characters of Dawson’s Creek. During a time when friends and family have an enormous impact on their lives and future, Dawson, Joey, Pacey and Jen worry about where they’re heading and what they’ll be when they grow up. Afraid of doing something stupid, or making mistakes that have lifelong consequences, each of the four characters must learn to deal with the other gender, their own sexuality as well as the question of whether or not to engage in sex, and how those decisions impact their long term friendships.
The viewers targeted are clearly teenagers, as the shows themes relate to the issues teenagers face. However, watching Dawsons Creek can satisfy young adults and even the older generation, as it brings back fond, strong and emotional memories of their teenage years. The viewers are positioned to associate with the themes present. Some feelings and memories the audience might have recollected from watching the Pilot episode and a few of the following episodes are; how they felt when they experienced their first kiss, or how they felt when they were severely hurt and betrayed by someone, as Mitch (Dawsons dad), and Dawson were when Gale (Dawsons mum) had an affair with another man. Or did some viewers ever happen to have a crush on one of their best friends? All of these issues and conflicts are raised and resolved in Dawsons Creek. The themes of Dawsons Creek have such a strong impact on the viewers and their feelings. The audience can also relate to them. The audiences are therefore really involved in the plots and storylines. This is what has made the show so successful in quick period of time.
The themes of other teen shows are very different to Dawsons Creek, thus making it more interesting to watch. Dawsons Creek freely brings up issues relating to sex, which other shows find it hard to do. The writers and producers of Dawsons Creek know sex is an extremely titanic issue when it comes to teenagers, and the show handles the topic very well and carefully. Other teen shows such as Party of Five, Neighbours, Beverly Hills 90210, Home and Away, Charmed, Buffy, Heartbreak High and Breakers hold back when it comes to sex. These shows do not freely and openly express the issues involving sex, especially when it comes to character dialogue. This is what separates Dawsons Creek and the rest of the field. The writers and producers made it clear from the first episode (the Pilot episode) that the subject of sex would play a big portion of the show. In the Pilot episode, there was a lot of sexual tension between the main characters. The main characters discussed their sex-lives, sexual experiences openly and they talked about sex in general as a lot of teenagers do today. The first scene of the Pilot episode shows that Joey has been sleeping over Dawsons house for 7 years, but on that night, Joey thinks they should stop because their growing hormones are likely to alter their relationship. Dawson completely disagrees, and persuades Joey to stay the night, which she does. In future episodes, the audiences learn that Joey has had a strong crush on Dawson, so she feels uncomfortable being so close to him. When Jen arrives, Dawson instantly falls for her, but Joey tries to keep them apart. This is an example of some of the teen angst on the show. There are a lot of compelling emotional scenes, and also some great humour and fun, which makes Dawsons Creek a delight to watch.
Dawsons Creek is an hour-long drama, which is the standard for most dramas on television. The first season contained 13 episodes, the second contained 22 episodes and the third will contain 26 episodes. This suits the viewers because the episodes are not too short, and not too long. There is enough time for character development in an episode, but it does not get boring and long. In an hour, there can be numerous conflicts, which can be resolved, however it would be difficult to do this effectively if the drama went for half an hour. If it did go for thirty minutes, then it would be more like a soap opera because one episode would continue on from another. Every episode, a number of conflicts arise, and they are either resolved in the same episode, or in one of the future episodes. For example, in the Pilot episode, the conflict between Pacey and his teacher, Tamara, was briefly resolved in the same episode, however the conflict between Gale and Bob (her co-worker, whom she slept with) was resolved in future episodes. This technique is effective because the viewer will be satisfied with an episode, but will also be eager to watch future episodes to see how conflicts are resolved. The viewer positioning for most television dramas in relation to the shows construction is comparatively similar.
The characters of the show value families, friendship, sex and honesty. Dawsons Creek also values teenage life, and the issues they face as well as the consequences of them. Dawson clearly values honesty, as he was absolutely devastated when he discovered that his mum, Jen and Joey had all been keeping gigantic secrets from him. Dawson also values sex, as he wants it to be the perfect moment- the perfect time, the perfect woman, and the perfect place. Joey does not want her feelings towards Dawson to alter their long and dear friendship. This shows that Joey values her and Dawsons friendship a lot, so much that she does not want to take any risk of losing it, no matter what she might be missing out on. All of the characters value their families greatly. Dawson realises how much his family means to him after they decide to separate; Joey wishes she had a family because her mother died of cancer and father is in prison; Jen was kicked out of her house in New York but after a while, she realises that she wants a second chance with them; Pacey has always wished that his dad show more respect towards him and spend a bit more time with him.
The viewer is positioned to relate to the values of the show and the characters, like it is with the themes of the drama.The younger viewers learn from the characters, and their mistakes. Teenagers may start to value their families, specifically their parents as they learn what life would be like without their parents by their side. They also might learn to not make decisions that could affect the rest of their lives without thinking about it and the consequences the decision could lead to. The viewers can almost picture themselves as one of the characters, and they can assess what they would do in an identical or similar situation. In the Pilot episode, viewers may learn that if they ever have strong feelings for someone, then do not let the opportunity go or they might live to regret it for the rest of their lives. Dawsons Creek handles these issues with a huge amount of care and consideration.
The positioning of the viewer in relation to the themes, construction and values for television drama plays a critical part in determining viewer response, and how popular a series will be. Dawsons Creek deals with resolving issues that teenagers face, so teenagers can relate to the themes and values of the show. The storyline has a huge impact on teenagers as they could be in similar positions in the future. Dawsons Creek is constructed like most other TV dramas are, as it holds the audiences attention and liking. Dawsons Creek makes the audience think a lot, about the future and the past. This is what makes Dawsons Creek spectacular to watch and added with the good blend of drama and humour, these are the reasons why it became the most watched show by teenagers around the globe.