Thursday, August 9, 2007

Harry Potter and The Dawson's Creek

a report:

When it comes to Harry Potter, I don't know the difference between a prisoner of azkaban and a half-blood prince. I don't know the rules of Quidditch and I don't know if Hermione is "legal". I haven't read The Deathly Hallows; in fact, I haven't read a single book featuring the world's favorite boy wizard. What I do know about the billion-selling series I've gleaned from Newsweek cover stories and Conan O'Brien one-liners. As someone who considers himself fairly in tune with the changing waves of American pop culture, what's my excuse for missing out on Harry-mania? The answer to that question is simple: Dawson's Creek, Season Three.

Don't laugh. As Capeside High School junior Pacey Witter puts it, "Dawson Leery and Joey Potter have been apart for months now. The whole summer has passed and the whole world is waiting to figure out what's going to happen." Fine, the "whole summer" Pacey's citing is the summer of 1999, and the "whole world" is the show's fanbase of sorority houses and teenage girls' bedrooms...and me, a male college graduate of 2007 weened on The Wonder Years and The O.C.

Even while I see Dawson's Creek as an overwritten and downright cheesy melodrama, I can't help but find something ridiculously comforting in enjoying a pop culture phenomenon once it's long past its sell-by date. In a given episode, Dawson's is liable to weave punchlines around Crash Bandicoot and Janet Reno, and I'm liable to enjoy all the 90s arcana. Part of the thrill is superficial: Crash Bandicoot? Janet Reno? These subjects of Capeside quips are stuck in a time capsule, forever safe from hanging chads, Dubya, "it's niiiice" Borat impressions, and hell, the Harry Potter movie adaptations. For all their SAT vocabulary and smarty-pants references , the Creek kids of 1999 don't know anything about anybody named Condoleezza. And I do. Take that, Dawson.

I might be doomed as a lonely Creeker, but I'm not alone in reviving yesterday's pop culture favorites today. Take a look at the front page of's DVD section on a random August afternoon and you might find Footloose and the first two seasons of The Muppet Show featured more prominently than recent releases like 300 and House: Season Three. On the site's list of 100 best-selling DVDs, you'll find seasons of Home Improvement and Full House in between seasons of Grey's Anatomy and The Sopranos. While another pack of kids, teens, and adults rip through the final pages of The Deathly Hollows, there's another audience hooting and hollering at Tim Allen's Tool Time. This rise of 90s entertainment goes beyond the class-clown antics of VH1 nostalgia, for the fans of Dawson's Creek and Home Improvement enjoy the shows even without wisecracks from Last Comic Standing rejects. We don't mind being un-hip, and I don't mind being ignorant of muggles.

"The [Potter] books came out when I was in my literary snob phase," says Steven Stein, intern at the Austin American-Statesman and adventure-book connoisseur. "I felt they were beneath me. When I became less of an asshole, I was too far behind to catch up."

Stein's words got me thinking: do I ever want to "catch up" with the Potter Nation? Or am I content waiting for eight-years-ago twists in the Dawson-Joey-Pacey love triangle?

In 2012, I might crack open Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but for now, count me among the few, the proud, and the non-Potterfied.

My apologies to J.K. Rowling, but it's time to play Crash Bandicoot.


Steph said...

I didn't start watching Dawson's Creek until long after the last episode aired either. TBS and their well-times reruns made me late to class more times then I can count in the last four years!

Anonymous said...

I am a book whore and have yet to crack a Harry Potter book. Is that wrong?

Home Improvement was one of the funniest sitcoms EVER! I hate to admit I didn't watch Dawson's Creek...wonder what I missed?


Steven said...

Good column man. And not just because you quoted me.

Jessica said...

Well said. I'm glad I'm not the only one living in a pop culture time capsule. Even though I know what's going to happen, I still get excited when Joey finally makes her decision.

Brenna Schwert said...

I'm sitting on the edge of my seat. It's 2012. DID YOU OPEN IT?!

Alex Pollack said...

Haha. Hi Brenna. Thanks for reading. Five years later and I'm still non-Potterfied!