Essay, Research Paper: Television Dramas 


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The viewer positioning in television dramas play a very important and critical
part in how the drama is portrayed to the audience, and hence this gives an idea
on how successful the show will be. Dawson’s Creek is a relatively new TV
drama aimed at teenagers and the issues they face and have to deal with in
society today. The viewer positioning, in relation to the show’s themes,
construction and values will be discussed and analysed. The “Pilot” episode
(first episode of Dawson’s Creek) will be referred back to in this essay, as
this episode was what propelled Dawson’s Creek into becoming the most watched
teen show around the world and what made the actors/ actresses into instant
stars. Dawson's Creek is about one boy's coming of age journey and his lifelong
friendship with a girl from a vastly different home life. The vivid and
absorbing relationship between Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie
Holmes) is at the core of the series. Best friends since they were small
children, the two are faced with many new challenges ahead of them in their
teenage years, ones that would not have arisen in their childhood days. One is
sustaining their close friendship in spite of their budding romantic
relationship, their emotional, physical and intellectual growth and the changing
world around them. Other than Dawson and Joey, the show also revolves around two
other central characters, Jen and Pacey. Jen (Michelle Williams) has
mysteriously come from New York to stay with her grandparents, but she clearly
has an air of mystery surrounding her as she harbours a dark secret from her
past. Dawson clearly lusts for her, but when Jen unveils some of her teenage
experiences to Dawson, his feelings for her clearly change. Pacey (Joshua
Jackson) has been Dawson’s best friend, along with Joey, for some time. Pacey
lives life fearlessly, and he is eager to discovery what life has laid out for
him. His gift for sarcasm is matched only by knack for stumbling awkwardly and
unprepared into adult situations. The four are engaged in an intriguing
relationship, and are forced to deal with their feelings towards each other.
Dawson’s Creek is about their journey through life. The show was conceived,
developed and written by Kevin Williamson, who continues to serve as executive
producer of the series. Dawson's Creek presents a somewhat autobiographical and
almost shockingly honest portrayal of teenage characters dealing with real-life
issues. Williamson believes that today's teenagers, who are exposed to an
unprecedented amount of violence, sex, drugs and unsavory role models, are
growing up fast. Dawson's Creek is loosely based on Williamson's real-life
experiences growing up in rural North Carolina and the special relationship he
shared with his own best friend. As it presents a very honest portrayal of the
painful experiences of the teenage years interspersed with incredible moments of
pure exhilaration, fun and joy, the show provides a fresh and gripping approach
to the vast and diverse universal emotions associated with growing up. Never
underestimating the 16-year-old mind, the series deals with sensitive issues
that reflect the concerns of the four characters striving for self-awareness,
while afraid of losing something special and not being able to find anything to
replace it in the future. The agony of surviving puberty intact, discovering
their sexuality, unearthing their future and figuring out life in general are
just some of the themes that surround the central characters of Dawson's Creek.
During a time when friends and family have an enormous impact on their lives and
future, Dawson, Joey, Pacey and Jen worry about where they're heading and what
they'll be when they grow up. Afraid of doing something stupid, or making
mistakes that have lifelong consequences, each of the four characters must learn
to deal with the other gender, their own sexuality as well as the question of
whether or not to engage in sex, and how those decisions impact their long term
friendships. The viewers targeted are clearly teenagers, as the show’s themes
relate to the issues teenagers face. However, watching Dawson’s Creek can
satisfy young adults and even the older generation, as it brings back fond,
strong and emotional memories of their teenage years. The viewers are positioned
to associate with the themes present. Some feelings and memories the audience
might have recollected from watching the “Pilot” episode and a few of the
following episodes are; how they felt when they experienced their first kiss, or
how they felt when they were severely hurt and betrayed by someone, as Mitch
(Dawson’s dad), and Dawson were when Gale (Dawson’s mum) had an affair with
another man. Or did some viewers ever happen to have a crush on one of their
best friends? All of these issues and conflicts are raised and resolved in
Dawson’s Creek. The themes of Dawson’s Creek have such a strong impact on
the viewers and their feelings. The audience can also relate to them. The
audiences are therefore really involved in the plots and storylines. This is
what has made the show so successful in quick period of time. The themes of
other teen shows are very different to Dawson’s Creek, thus making it more
interesting to watch. Dawson’s Creek freely brings up issues relating to sex,
which other shows find it hard to do. The writers and producers of Dawson’s
Creek know sex is an extremely titanic issue when it comes to teenagers, and the
show handles the topic very well and carefully. Other teen shows such as Party
of Five, Neighbours, Beverly Hills 90210, Home and Away, Charmed, Buffy,
Heartbreak High and Breakers hold back when it comes to sex. These shows do not
freely and openly express the issues involving sex, especially when it comes to
character dialogue. This is what separates Dawson’s Creek and the rest of the
field. The writers and producers made it clear from the first episode (the
“Pilot” episode) that the subject of sex would play a big portion of the
show. In the “Pilot” episode, there was a lot of sexual tension between the
main characters. The main characters discussed their sex-lives, sexual
experiences openly and they talked about sex in general as a lot of teenagers do
today. The first scene of the “Pilot” episode shows that Joey has been
sleeping over Dawson’s house for 7 years, but on that night, Joey thinks they
should stop because their growing hormones are likely to alter their
relationship. Dawson completely disagrees, and persuades Joey to stay the night,
which she does. In future episodes, the audiences learn that Joey has had a
strong crush on Dawson, so she feels uncomfortable being so close to him. When
Jen arrives, Dawson instantly falls for her, but Joey tries to keep them apart.
This is an example of some of the teen angst on the show. There are a lot of
compelling emotional scenes, and also some great humour and fun, which makes
Dawson’s Creek a delight to watch. Dawson’s Creek is an hour-long drama,
which is the standard for most dramas on television. The first season contained
13 episodes, the second contained 22 episodes and the third will contain 26
episodes. This suits the viewers because the episodes are not too short, and not
too long. There is enough time for character development in an episode, but it
does not get boring and long. In an hour, there can be numerous conflicts, which
can be resolved, however it would be difficult to do this effectively if the
drama went for half an hour. If it did go for thirty minutes, then it would be
more like a soap opera because one episode would continue on from another. Every
episode, a number of conflicts arise, and they are either resolved in the same
episode, or in one of the future episodes. For example, in the “Pilot”
episode, the conflict between Pacey and his teacher, Tamara, was briefly
resolved in the same episode, however the conflict between Gale and Bob (her
co-worker, whom she slept with) was resolved in future episodes. This technique
is effective because the viewer will be satisfied with an episode, but will also
be eager to watch future episodes to see how conflicts are resolved. The viewer
positioning for most television dramas in relation to the show’s construction
is comparatively similar. The characters of the show value families, friendship,
sex and honesty. Dawson’s Creek also values teenage life, and the issues they
face as well as the consequences of them. Dawson clearly values honesty, as he
was absolutely devastated when he discovered that his mum, Jen and Joey had all
been keeping gigantic secrets from him. Dawson also values sex, as he wants it
to be the perfect moment- the perfect time, the perfect woman, and the perfect
place. Joey does not want her feelings towards Dawson to alter their long and
dear friendship. This shows that Joey values her and Dawson’s friendship a
lot, so much that she does not want to take any risk of losing it, no matter
what she might be missing out on. All of the characters value their families
greatly. Dawson realises how much his family means to him after they decide to
separate; Joey wishes she had a family because her mother died of cancer and
father is in prison; Jen was kicked out of her house in New York but after a
while, she realises that she wants a second chance with them; Pacey has always
wished that his dad show more respect towards him and spend a bit more time with
him. The viewer is positioned to relate to the values of the show and the
characters, like it is with the themes of the drama. The younger viewers learn
from the characters, and their mistakes. Teenagers may start to value their
families, specifically their parents as they learn what life would be like
without their parents by their side. They also might learn to not make decisions
that could affect the rest of their lives without thinking about it and the
consequences the decision could lead to. The viewers can almost picture
themselves as one of the characters, and they can assess what they would do in
an identical or similar situation. In the “Pilot” episode, viewers may learn
that if they ever have strong feelings for someone, then do not let the
opportunity go or they might live to regret it for the rest of their lives.
Dawson’s Creek handles these issues with a huge amount of care and
consideration. The positioning of the viewer in relation to the themes,
construction and values for television drama plays a critical part in
determining viewer response, and how popular a series will be. Dawson’s Creek
deals with resolving issues that teenagers face, so teenagers can relate to the
themes and values of the show. The storyline has a huge impact on teenagers as
they could be in similar positions in the future. Dawson’s Creek is
constructed like most other TV dramas are, as it holds the audience’s
attention and liking. Dawson’s Creek makes the audience think a lot, about the
future and the past. This is what makes Dawson’s Creek spectacular to watch
and added with the good blend of drama and humour, these are the reasons why it
became the most watched show by teenagers around the globe.
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