Sitcoms tend to be where the most memorable Thanksgiving episodes can be found, but I wanted to carry on with the holiday themed teen TV discussions that started with Halloween this year. So far My So-Called Life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Freaks and Geeks have been addressed and so it’s time to talk about that other ’90s teen TV juggernaut Dawson’s Creek. The episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” is from season 3 and deals with Jen’s estranged relationship with her mother and other family related dramas that tend to rear their head during the holiday season.
Pacey talks of defining moments when Jen finds out that her mother is a giant hypocrite who, instead of trying to deal with her daughter’s promiscuity sent her away. This is further compounded by the revelation that Jen’s mom had given up a child when she was a teenager (who happens to be one of the Sweet Valley High twins). Jen’s mother is pretty much your typical WASP archetype as she will do anything to avoid a scandal going public. The pearl necklace that she tries to bestow to Jen is pure waspy style and Jen rejects this. It’s a peace offering and it’s one that is too little, too late as the woman that Jen idolized when she grew up threw her away; “Pearls lose their luster if you don’t wear them. I guess that they’re like people in that regard, you should keep them close to your skin.”
Halloween episodes give characters the opportunity to be someone else and Thanksgiving is all about family. It’s the perfect time for the Lindley’s to have a frank discussion and for Michelle Williams to break my heart. As I’ve mentioned previously Jen was my favorite character on this show, not because she was the ‘bad girl’ (the antics on a show like Gossip Girl are way worse, though Jen does share *some* similarities with Serena) instead there was something compelling about her as she struggles with this label and this new environment. Plus I really wanted her haircut, though looking at this semi-crimped style I’m not sure why.
Friends as family is also a consistent notion when it comes to Thanksgiving episodes and while this sentiment sounds cheesy Dawson perfectly sums it up when he tells Joey that “The only homes we have are the ones we make for ourselves.” I can totally see that statement on a fridge magnet or doormat. Jen isn’t the only one having a hard time as Joey is still mourning her mother and the holiday only magnifies this pain, Dawson is dealing with his parents divorce, Pacey and Andi are still in post breakup awkwardness and Pacey doesn’t want to spend Thanksgiving with his own bawdy family.
The defining moment that Pacey mentions refers to seeing your parents “as human beings with their own problems” and how “it is oddly kind of liberating when you realize they are way more messed up than you are.” Alanis Morissette’s “That I Would Be Good” kicks in because this is the late ’90s and lady angst music is the best soundtrack choice. This also happens to be one of the episodes where Jen and Pacey attempt friends with benefits and while I never saw them as a long term couple they have great chemistry together and this storyline is a lot of fun before the Dawson/Pacey/Joey triangle angst sets in.
Jen realizes that her mother doesn’t hate her and the reason she was exiled was due to her mother’s self-loathing and fear of disappearing off the social scene if she ever ends it with her father. It’s the closure that Jen needs and hey Thanksgiving made it all possible. The final scene with the group hanging out around the fire is all about the ‘friends as family’ idea and it’s sprinkled with Dawson’s Creek staples such as pop culture references (Charlie Brown), a sentimental speech from Dawson that leads to a mention of the Oscars.
It’s a solid Thanksgiving episode, though I’m glad I had watched “Escape from Witch Island” recently as this is the one that precedes it and I have also watched/written about this ghostly adventure recently. Ok, that was pretty much a discussion of how bad Joey’s hat is and in terms of costuming in this episode the only thing of note is how ill fitting the bras are and along with the everything is baggy look, I’m glad this trend hasn’t come back around with the recent ’90s revival. Jen’s super long black skirt, knee high boots combo is staple late ’90s look. The location is stunning and having a meal like this outside without freezing this time of year would be wonderful.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating today!