James Van Der Beek is back in the spotlight with a starring role in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. This time, instead of playing Dawson, he’s playing an exaggerated, extra-arrogant, over-the-top version of himself.
Seeing James Van Der Beek back on TV is stirring a lot of memories of his breakout role as Dawson Leery on Dawson’s Creek. Here’s a look back at James Van Der Beek and Company’s best moments on Dawson’s Creek, the show that put the star (and that handsome forehead) on the map.
Season 1: James Van Der Beek as Dawson, Katie Holmes as his female bestie Joey, Joshua Jackson as Pacey, Michelle Williams as Jen–can you believe so many A-listers got their start on the same show? Season 1 introduced us to everyone and their relationship dynamics, and it featured a lot of plot points that came up in later television shows, like when Pacey lost his virginity to one of his teachers (hello, Pretty Little Liars!). While the most dramatic moment was the Dawson-Joey kiss, our fave was the “Detention” episode, which was a tribute to The Breakfast Club.
Season 2: Drama drama drama! We were stoked to meet Andie and Jack, but the real heart of the season was its heartbreak (nice knowing you, Abby) and family traumas. Andie has a nervous breakdown over her family issues (yikes!), and Dawson struggled to deal with his parents’ divorce. Not many shows dealt with broken homes so openly before from a teen’s P.O.V., so it was relatable and groundbreaking for its time.
Season 3: Dawson’s Creek continued to break new ground in its third season. Like the “Detention” episode in season 1, season 3 paid tribute to and poked fun at another highly influential movie–this time, The Blair Witch Project. Even cooler, though? Season 3 of Dawson’s Creek had network television’s first teenage gay kiss between Jack and his boyfriend, Ethan. You’re welcome, Glee!
Season 4: So much drama this season that it was almost hard to keep up! Andie overdoses on ecstasy at a party and a lot of people blamed Jen. So scary! We think the best part of season 4, though, was when Joey and Pacey were under the same roof for a while but still waited for a while to have sex–that’s willpower! We love that the show portrayed the pair acting responsibly about sex without being preachy about it.
Season 5: You know how terrible it is to make fun of someone when they’re down? The world couldn’t help it. After tragedy struck Dawson and he lost his dad, the world was introduced to the now infamous James Van Der Beek Crying Face. Watch. Enjoy. Repeat:
Season 6: We hated to see them go, but we loved to see what happened in their futures! Audrey is a rock star, Dawson goes on to make, well, another version of Dawson’s Creek (how meta!), and more. What we liked a lot, though? The endings, while generally positive, were also realistic and not entirely happy, just like real life often is.
What’s your favorite Dawson’s Creek moment? Are you Team Dawson or Team Pacey? Team Joey or Team Jen? Did you watch James Van Der Beek in Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23? Sound off in the comments!