One of the most intriguing things about DC is its depiction of parents. When the show first aired, it was criticized in part for its unrelentingly harsh portrayal of adults. The Parents Television Council proclaimed the show the single worst program of the 1997–1998 season. Reviewers described the teens of DC as “out of touch with the adult world,” with Salon.com quipping, “parents and other authority figures are absent, distracted, or virulently disapproving.”
I just assumed Kevin Williamson didn’t have the greatest relationship with his own parents.
When you really think about it, it is shocking just how awful the parents of Dawson’s Creek are. With a few exceptions, they’re all pretty crappy, even if they don’t mean to be. Was DC the first show to portray deadbeat dads, verbally abusive moms, and uncaring families? No. Was it the first to do it so sweepingly? I have no idea, but I’d be willing to bet that it was at least one of the first. Admittedly, most of the parents attempt to make some type of amends, and by the end of the show you don’t hate most of them quite so much. But, the parental role on DC seems to function mainly as an explanation for why these kids are so damaged.
Pacey’s father is verbally and physically abusive, while his mother is also verbally abusive. He is constantly being told that he’s worthless. He moves out of the house at 17, his parents could care less, and you rarely see them again.
Joey’s father is a criminal, in prison for drug trafficking. When he finally gets out, he starts dealing cocaine and goes right back to jail. He is overly critical of Joey’s life, especially the men she dates. Her mother is depicted as a saint, but she died when Joey was very young.
Jen’s father is an adulterous alcoholic, and her mother is a self-numbing addict. When Jen acts out as a teenager, her parents don’t feel like dealing with her, so they send her to live with her grandmother. As the years pass, Jen’s mother makes only one attempt to contact her daughter, and understandably it does not go well.
Jack’s mother, MIA through most of the show, has a mental condition that she developed after his older brother dies. His father refuses to accept his homosexuality, to the point that Jack is forced to move out of the house.
Dawson has the most “together” parents, though that’s not saying much. His parents have a ton of problems with each other, and that certainly fucks him up a bit, but unlike the other parents they don’t have problems with him.
And even the secondary characters have parent issues! When Audrey's mother visits, she calls her daughter a "California blonde" and says she's embarrassed to be her mother. Joey’s boyfriend Eddie admits that he doesn’t want her to meet his family because his parents will tell him he’s not good enough for her. And this type of thing crops up again, and again, and again.
What are your thoughts on the parents of Dawson’s Creek? Share with us in the comments!