The End of Guilty Pleasures

A look inside one man's personal collection of rotten tomatoes. And, hopefully, a guide for each of us to see the garden for the sauce.

People make excuses. Add qualifiers. Justify.

"It's a guilty pleasure."

In life, I enjoy my fair share of pretentious art (Michael Haneke films, the music of Matthew Herbert, those 3D paintings that give me a headache).

I appreciate the idea of challenging oneself, exploring ideas that are difficult and frustrating, drinking horchata because Ezra Koenig mentions it in a song.

I also appreciate Maroon 5's "Payphone." In fact, I'm listening to it right now.

I appreciate the suspicious look I received from the movie theatre usher when I handed him a ticket for the 7:25 showing of Adam Sandler's "Jack & Jill." 

You aren't crazy, usher: I was at the midnight screening, too.

I won't apologize for wanting to see that Al Pacino Dunkin' Donuts commercial over and over again. The time for shame is over. As Tom Scharpling once said: "Like what you like."

This all leads to my greatest allegedly embarrassing pleasure: The late 90s, early '00s TV show, "Dawson's Creek."

"Dawson's Creek" is by all accounts a gravely constructed television program. The show's first season has moments of genuine, involving, teenage angst. But even that niche — executed perfectly — can only rise (down) to the level of "10 Things I Hate About You."

"Dawson's Creek" is about nothing, and not in a charming 'Seinfeld'-ian way.

"D.C." gives off more of a 'Listening to someone talk about their time at the DMV'-type vibe.

I won't bore you with the details of how a program can become so terrible. Such specifics can be found in Jeffrey Stepakoff's excellent memoir about life as a "Dawson's Creek" writer, Billion Dollar Kiss.

Just trust me: It's bad.

And yet, I can't stop watching "Dawson's Creek." I've seen each of the program's 128 episodes. Numerous times.

I can not only tell you that Katie Holmes is the only actor to appear in every single episode of the series, but also that the episode in which she is the only "Dawson's Creek" regular on screen is episode No. 14 from Season 5, 'Downtown Crossing.'

I know that during season 2, the 'D.C.' writing staff was split into two camps: Those who wanted to break up Dawson and Joey as soon as possible, and those who wanted to give them a full season to develop their relationship.

I've used said anecdote (buried within the season 4 DVD commentary) as an argument for why (SPOILER ALERT) Dawson and Joey ultimately do not end up together.

I've lost sleep theorizing ways that after the series ended, somehow, Dawson and Joey could have ended up together.

I've read an academic book written by an Amherst PhD candidate about "D.C." I own the "Dawson's Creek" soundtrack: Volumes 1 and 2.

I consider myself a man of "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights," "Breaking Bad" and "The Larry Sanders Show," but I've seen more "Dawson's Creek" than any of the above-mentioned programs combined.

Like a Teen Beat Geraldo Rivera, I need to dig deeper: Did James Van Der Beek improv that Todd Solondz reference in season 5? Why didn't Jack end up with Toby? Was Drue Valentine simply Abby Morgan reincarnated? 

Also, who cares?

I care.

And I will not apologize. And neither should you. Love what you love. Stand tall.
In the immortal words of Paul Cole, "I don't want to wait" for time to redeem my cultural interests. 

It never will. 

Accept that. Embrace it. Continue watching 'Dawson's Creek.' And listening to Maroon 5. Get excited for the next Adam Sandler movie. 

I'll be at that midnight screening, and probably at the 7:25 showing the next day, too.

I remain, as always, proud to speak the immortal words: "One for 'Grown Ups 2', please."


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