Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Season 1, Episode 12: Beauty Contest

Come on – if you remember only a handful of Dawson's Creek episodes, this one MUST be in there: if we were to translate the title into a Friends episode, this would be The One Where, Although It Contradicts Everything We've Learnt About Her All Season Long, Joey Enters a Beauty Contest (and So Does Pacey, But Pacey Can Do ANYTHING HE WANTS).

Pre-titles: it's movie night as usual chez Dawson's bedroom, but Joey and Dawson are watching some gross doco on bug mating in lieu of the usual Hollywood classic, because Dawson has a paper on...err...bug mating due. The season-long, barely repressed, much denied sexual tension between the pair is expressed this time not through suspicious wrestling, but in the form of an argument over whether, LIKE BUGS, humans mate by instinct or not. Dawson says there must be an element of instinct guiding humans in their romantic entanglements, to which I say: YOUR INSTINCTS SUCK ASS THEN DAWSON, BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE IN LOVE WITH BITCHFACE JEN AND YOU ARE OBLIVIOUS TO JOEY PINING OVER YOU RIGHT NOW DAMMIT RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Also, Joey's instinct's are all messed up, because remember how last episode, Pacey Witter KISSED HER FACE OFF and she was all like “Um, meh, where's Dawson?”


At least Joey is aware of her screwy instincts because she is all like “I don't know if humans are like bugs, Dawson, I DON'T KNOW *bites lip and looks coy*” which is actually a good way to shut down an inane conversation and take us to the titles.


So the gang are weirdly all together – Pacey, Dawson and Jen are hanging out at the Icehouse with Joey loitering while she is supposed to be waiting tables. Let's not ask why Jen and Dawson are in the same place apparently just hanging out like BFFs when last time we saw them IT WAS HORRIFIC and BITCHFACE JEN WAS STOMPING DAWSON'S HEART INTO A FINE POWDER, SETTING IT ON FIRE THEN PISSING ON IT as she revealed the truth about their breakup on a mo-foing FERRIS WHEEL Dawson couldn't even escape from.

We rapidly learn:
  • Dawson hasn't let Jen's Ferris Wheel burn of shame go, but instead of GETTING OVER HER, he's embarking on a campaign to win her back with biting sarcasm and cutting remarks that disguise how much he still adores her. A misguided strategy, but then, Dawson's an idiot and admits to Pacey he's probably just trying to win Jen back in his deranged fashion OUT OF HABIT.
  • Dawson's mum is one of the judges in an upcoming annual beauty pageant, the Miss Windjammer contest, held at a local yacht club.
  • Joey, unsurprisingly, is against beauty pageants.

  • Jen's mum used to make her participate in beauty pageants when she was a kid “before she was old enough to object” - so I guess her and Joey are on the same team on this issue.
  • Dawson, UNSURPRISINGLY, is Mr INSENSITIVE – telling Jen that she should enter because she is SO BEAUTIFUL and going on and on about it RIGHT IN FRONT OF JOEY, without even a “you too, Jo!”. Sure, she has made it clear she thinks it's a stupid contest, but YOU COULD TELL HER SHE'S PRETTY TOO, DOOFUS.

Most importantly, we learn that the Miss Windjammer contest doesn't just come with a silly title, but a sweet $5000 cash prize, plus a trip to New York. And then we learn about two of “the gang'' who could really use that prize.

JOEY: I'm sure you've already guessed it, but if you've been ignoring Joey's whining season long, then here: Joey is willing to enter the pageant and sell out her principles for the prospect of winning the $5000 cash. Bitchface Jen once again tries to extend the hand of friendship to Jo at the Icehouse, waiting casually until Joey is counting her meagre tips, which she comments on. HELLO JEN THAT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY RUDE TO OPEN A CONVERSATION BY TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE'S EARNINGS, BUT WHATEVS, YOU HAVE NO MANNERS. Joey spills – tips are down, and OMG SHE HAS TO GET OUT OF CAPESIDE AND A SCHOLARSHIP IS HER ONLY HOPE BUT WHAT IF THEY DON'T GIVE HER ENOUGH MONEY WHAT WHAAAAAT?

I know what you should do, Joey. THE ONLY POSSIBLE THING YOU CAN DO. You should enter a local beauty contest and pin all your hopes on winning a one off cash prize, depending on the fact that a) you won't be disqualified for being best friends with the judge's son and b) no-one will see through your inexperience and total disdain for the whole thing, and VOILA! ALL YOUR PROBLEMS WILL BE SOLVED. Especially if you let Bitchface Jen, YOUR FORMER LOVE RIVAL be your coach on how to be a Real Girl.

PACEY: It makes me so sad when Dawson's Creek is mean to Pacey, WHO IS THE COOLEST GUY EVER. But Dawson meets up with Pacey at his locker in the corridors of Capeside High, and finds Pacey FREAKING THE FUCK OUT because he can't find a pen. Obviously Pace is under some pressure. It all comes down to his dad – Pacey's policeman father thinks Pacey is a wastrel, a clown, a layabout, a no-goodnik, and he is apparently not shy in sharing his negative opinion of his son WITH his son. Dawson, having ridiculously supportive parents is incapable of comprehending just how broken the relationship between the Witters is. 

And then this:

Heartbreaking. For Pacey to consider entering the beauty pageant is pure Pacey Witter: on the surface, it seems like a joke, something he doesn't take that seriously. But underneath – he has very real reasons for actually needing the prize and seriously wanting to win.

If he's gonna move out, he can't pay rent on his part-time video store minimum wage. 


Jen has taken to calling Joey “Miss America” as Joey fills in the requisite forms.
Beauty pageant “coach” and professional bitchface Jen is confident of Joey's ability to win the contest based on the appearance of the competition lining up at registration at the yacht club. Especially when they hear Pacey arguing his way into the contest claiming that it's discrimination to deny him based on his gender.

They run into Dawson who OUTDOES HIMSELF at insensitivity:
  • assuming that they are there because JEN decided to enter
  • when he is corrected, assuming that Joey must be entering undercover to do an 'expose' on pageants for the newspaper
  • then when Joey shoots that theory down, assuming that Joey is joking about entering ALTOGETHER. Seriously. Dawson. SHUT YOUR FACE BEFORE JOEY PUNCHES YOUR MOUTH.

Joey, QUITE RIGHTLY gets really pissed off. Which will be an interesting look for the pageant.

Meanwhile, it seems Pacey has successfully argued his way into the contest – there's nothing in the rulebook saying boys CAN'T enter, so grudgingly, the yacht club mavens HAVE to let him in. As all the girls, and Pacey, are read the contest rules, Pacey gets into a wisecracking bitchfight with Hannah von Wenning, a snobby rich girl he knows from his childhood who OBVIOUSLY expects to win.


Jen attempts to teach Joey how to walk in high heels – and SERIOUSLY? If she thinks Joey is winning material, when the girl walks with her TONGUE STICKING OUT (and needed to be taught how to walk in high heels full stop) then the other girls in the contest must be basically retarded.

Also, I don't know if you've noticed, but a lot of the time, Jen walks like a truckdriver wearing jackboots. WOULD YOU LET HER TEACH YOU HOW TO WALK TO WIN A BEAUTY PAGEANT?

When all the walking is done, Jen and Joey have a super awkward convo that is basically a mutual “So what's the deal with you and Dawson?” info exchange. Jen: “We're figuring things out”. Joey: “He will always see me as the gawky girl from down the Creek”.

Over at Dawson's place, Pacey has enlisted Man-Meat and Dawson as his gurus of pageantdom. HAS ANYBODY WONDERED ABOUT THE ETHICS OF ALL OF THIS YET? Hello? The HUSBAND and SON of one of the pageant judges are coaching one of the contestants? IS THAT NOT....SOME KIND OF BREACH OF RULES?

To be honest though, it's not like Pacey is a frontrunner for anything but the sympathy vote at this stage. He sings a...spirited...rendition of New York New York that gets a furrowed brow from Man-Meat. And WHAT WILL HE WEAR FOR THE FORMAL WEAR SECTION? (oooh Pacey, I bet you scrub up nice).

Hellooooo Mr Witter!

Man-Meat vanishes and it's time for the girly talk. It's sort of easy to forget that Pacey really likes Joey and backed off because she rejected him because of her unrequited love for Dawson, but also how Dawson was a total dick about Pacey's feelings for Joey. It's summed up nicely in this scene, with the two boys talking about the pageant and Joey entering and how Dawson just doesn't ever see Joey as a woman, he sees her as a “sister”, so anything romantic with her – which he has never thought about – would feel “incestuous”. Pacey: (pissed off and bitter) “So you don't want to be with her but you don't want anyone else to be with her?!”

Dawson: (just looks like a stunned mullet)

OKAY YOU GUYS. Don't think for a second I have forgotten why I started this blog – to EVENTUALLY – even though at this rate it's gonna take me LITERAL YEARS – finally see the final episode of Dawson's Creek I have NEVER SEEN.

I haven't lived under a rock so much that I don't know that it basically does (at least partly) boil down to Joey having to choose between Pacey and Dawson. HELLO the seeds are already planted for who that should be. Dawson's an idiot. Pacey is THE MAN.

And that, my friends, is a point that just gets RAMMED home in the remainder of the episode, which I will give the sur-title: DAWSON IS A GIANT DOUCHEBAG.


Long story short: neither of them wins the freaking pageant.

Pacey was never going to win, because he's a guy in a female beauty pageant, which makes him at best a novelty and at worst a freakshow, but the saddest thing about his storyline is that he proves, as Pacey does, time and again as the series goes on, that when Pacey Witter applies himself, he is a force to be reckoned with, yet EVERYONE IS DETERMINED TO UNDERESTIMATE HIM FOREVER. Even as the “novelty” contestant, Pacey is charming, gives fantastic, intelligent answers to the inane pageant questions, he scrubs up well, and the audience ADORE him and his charismatic, cheeky stage presence. It's hard not to think he could actually have a shot at winning – even as the token guy in the contest.

Would it have killed them to have invented an "Audience Favourite" prize for the guy? SERIOUSLY?

So when Pacey is informed by Gail Leery (in a vastly unprofessional move in her role as contest judge) that yes, he's the audience favourite, but “honey, you know you haven't a snowball's chance in hell of winning, right?” he is GUTTED. In an instant, Pacey goes from having the potential to be really something – rewarded for being his charming, intelligent self, back to being a joke, and he's HUMILIATED, because he realises that everyone saw him as a joke from the start – and he was the only person taking his entry in the contest seriously.

It really does make me so sad AND YES I DO REALISE HE'S A FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

His reaction to finding out he can't win is to forego his planned talent performance – a magic routine – in favour of making a statement:

The upside for Pace is that he discovers that his life isn't as crappy as he thought - or at least he's not as alone in having a crappy family. He goes to offer ''losing advice" to Hannah von Wenning and discovers her life is far from perfect - they are both kind of black sheep in their families.

Joey actually puts up a good fight, despite being the most sour faced, sullen contestant to ever grace the Miss Windjammer stage, EVER;

 and wows the audience (I use the term “wows” loosely) with her...rendition of On My Own in the talent portion of the contest.


Ahem, anyway. Weird singing aside, as any good reality show judges would tell you, it's all about song choice, and little Joey Potter NAILED it. Because not only does she wow the audience and impress the judges, her complete transformation from “tomboy/gawky girl from down the Creek” to “girl awkwardly wearing an evening dress, high heels, too much makeup and an up-do – aka A REAL GIRL”, coupled with her song mournfully lamenting her unrequited love (complete with furtive sidelong glances at the object of her affection) finally makes Dawson stare creepily at her in a way that is wrong for someone who regards her as a sister. 

This bums Bitchface Jen out, who has decided OUT OF THE BLUE that she wants Dawson BACK – because she had no real reason for dumping him.

 But Dawson only has eyes for Sparkly New Pageant Joey.

And that's why Dawson is a douchebag. HE WANTS HER NOW SHE LOOKS PRETTY. And he tells her so. To Joey's credit – she rejects Dawson when he's all like “Wow Joey I think I have feelings for you SUDDENLY”.

SHE REJECTS DAWSON – the guy she has been pining over FOREVER – because he wants a version of her that isn't really her. She tells him it's not what she imagined. She imagined him realising how great she is as herself – Joey – the girl he has known forever – not some version of herself that has to learn to walk in heels and put on lipstick and parade in front of strangers in a contest.


And do you know what? I know people diss Dawson's Creek all the time, but that right there is a pretty awesome message, even if everything else turns to shit from here on in.


  1. Lol man, Dawson was such an ass right from the very beginning of the show but he NEVER. GETS. BETTER. Definitely the worst title character for a show of all time. :P

    And Pacey is ridiculously flawless that you even wonder at the end if Joey deserves him BUT he loves her so FREAKING much that you say "alright, she can have him...only because it'll make him so gosh darn happy!" :D

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