If there’s anyone who knows how to pull off a successful love triangle, it’s Kevin Williamson. As the creator of The CW’s highest-rated series, The Vampire Diaries, he’s managed to keep fans constantly questioning whether the show’s central character, Elena (Nina Dobrev), will end up with emotionally tormented vampire, Stefan (Paul Wesley), or his undead bad-boy brother, Damon (Ian Somerhalder).
It’s a position he’s been in before. Williamson also developed the sharp late ’90s teen drama, Dawson’s Creek — another show with a much buzzed-about romantic dynamic. Though Williamson didn’t helm the love triangle on Dawson’s, when the series wrapped up after six seasons, as the creator, it was up to him to decide whether Joey (Katie Holmes) would end up with soul mate Dawson (James Van Der Beek) or teen love Pacey (Joshua Jackson). In the end, she chose Pacey — a decision that shippers continue to grapple with today.
When I spoke to Williamson about the relationships on The Vampire Diaries for this week’s cover story (as if you needed another excuse to look at the steamy pictures!), I couldn’t resist asking him about the finale of Dawson’s Creek. After all, while on the surface Dawson’s and The Vampire Diaries are two very different shows (the closest DC ever got to anything supernatural was when Dawson decided to film a horror movie à la Blair Witch Project), at their core they’re both about relationships. As a result, Williamson’s decision-making process behind the finale of Dawson’s Creek could provide some clues into how the triangle might progress on The Vampire Diaries. Here’s what he had to say (TVD executive producer Julie Plec, who worked with Williamson at the time, also weighs in):
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you realize the Joey/Pacey relationship could be worth pursuing?
KEVIN WILLIAMSON: In the first season. You know that moment where they had to take their clothes off? It was in the science class. That was the episode where we first went, “Okay. There are sparks here. This is a storyline that we’re going to go down but we’ll have to wait.”
KW: We knew there was a storyline and that ultimately they were going to have to get it on. We knew that it was going to be a triangle. We saw it and we waited and we put a pause on it and [the writers] brought it in at the right time. [Pacey] went through a lot and I thought the different writers that came and went over the course of the years did such a wonderful job of telling the tale of this young kid who took this huge journey. I feel like the show earned Pacey. He really became a man that was worthy of Joey. [It’s interesting to note that during his interview with EW, Williamson also said that he wanted to make sure the Damon-Elena kiss that happened earlier this season felt “earned.”]
When you wrote the finale of Dawson’s Creek, how aware were you that there were fans who wanted to see Joey and Pacey end up together?
KW: By the way, I did too, but I also am a purist. I wanted Dawson and Joey together till the end of time.
So, why didn’t you end the series with Dawson and Joey together?
KW: Originally, I really was going to go down that Dawson and Joey route and something didn’t feel right about it. One of the reasons I wanted to write Dawson’s Creek to begin with was to write my version of the teen drama. Back in the’90s when everyone was doing that whole self-aware thing, I was very aware of 90210. The characters in my show were very aware of 90210. They referenced it. They talked about it. This show was supposed to be the spin of the teen drama and if Dawson and Joey had ended up together, that wouldn’t have been the spin.
How did you make the final decision?
JULIE PLEC: This is my favorite Kevin Williamson moment of all time because we were working on a movie together at the time that he was making that decision. He had been agonizing over this because when he created the show it was [the] Dawson and Joey love story and then it came to the end of the show and he couldn’t decide what the right path for Joey to take was. He walked in and he was like, “I got it. I got it. Joey chooses Pacey because her childish love for Dawson has given way to her grown-up love for Pacey but Dawson still gets what he wants. Dawson gets what [he wanted when we] started the show, he gets to work with Spielberg. Dawson’s eternal wish, as a character, was delivered so Dawson found his happiness.” I got all teary-eyed when he said that because it made perfect sense because everything that you had [wanted] in the first episode was delivered on [and] then some in the end.
But what did that mean for Dawson and Joey’s relationship?
KW: In my mind, I know I’ve said this until I’m blue in the face, but Dawson and Joey are together. They are soul mates. He created a show about her. They are going to live forever. They are immortalized in Dawson’s world. It’s also my way of saying let’s look at the word “soul mate” and let’s redefine it. Dawson and Joey are soul mates forever [but] your soul mate is not necessarily your romantic love.
How did the fans react to the finale?
KW: Well, I get it both ways. I get people that were thrilled, and then of course I’ve got the purists who are like, how could you do that? My mother hated me. My mom was like, “How could you do that!? It was Dawson and Joey forever!”
JP: I was on the set of [a] movie and I got a call from my friend who lives in Toronto. I’m in my late-20s at the time and so is she. She called me sobbing with joy, like heaving [and said], “She chose Pacey.” [She was] so happy.
KW: It went both ways. You know, I still get tweets about it.
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