Last May, the WB created a buzz by promising a boy / boy kiss on ''Dawson's Creek,'' only to show a groundbreaking but disappointingly quick peck between Jack (Kerr Smith) and Ethan (Adam Kaufman). Well, this year, Jack gets a second chance at romance.
On the drama's May 2 Prom Night episode (''Promicide''), the lovelorn high school senior will lock lips with crush Tobey (David Monahan). The kiss has already gotten a thumbs up from Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spokesman Scott Seomin, who clocked the lipsmacker at 5.5 seconds and declared it a huge leap forward in the portrayal of gay characters on TV. For the show's executive producer, Paul Stupin, the accolade means a lot -- but more important, the moment had to be ''meaningful and powerful'' for Jack's character: ''We wanted to make it a good kiss, And it's a HELL of a kiss.''
''Dawson's Creek'' may be the first network TV series to show a passionate homosexual kiss. Yet Stupin says the show met with no interference from either the WB or censors, adding that conservative protests over Jack's openly gay character have been minor in comparison to positive fan reactions: ''It turned out the studio and the network were right behind us on it. They trusted us.''
But ''Dawson's Creek' isn't the only show to feature same sex smacking during this month's sweeps season: Lesbian relationships have featured in plotlines of ''Friends,'' ''Felicity,'' and ''ER.'' (''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'''s female couple kissed, without network fanfare, back in February.) As many TV and media critics have pointed out, though, it's different for guys: When women kiss, some viewers and advertisers think it's sexy or innocent (''Buffy'''s lovers, on the May 1 episode, were mistaken for affectionate sisters.) When men kiss, however, it's another matter entirely.
But Stupin says ''Dawson's Creek'' isn't merely cashing in on the latest sweeps stunt trend: ''Our viewers are emotionally invested in seeing Jack happy, and it's been difficult for them to see him provide stability for all of the other people on the show by being such a good friend and then have to face such instability in his own personal life in his inability to find a boyfriend.''
The payoff for Jack, and many of the other characters, will come on Wednesday's episode. ''The prom is held on a boat, which is very romantic and beautiful, but when the boat leaves the dock, there's no way for anyone to get off of it until the end of the evening,'' says Stupin. ''So no one can get away from their issues, which is positive for some and not so positive for others.''
He adds that the love triangle involving Joey, Pacey, and Dawson will hit another snag, with Pacey and Joey's romance crumbling. As for Jen, she'll have to endure the prom party with a date she never expected. And by the time the season wraps up on May 23, the entire cast will have not only weathered a guest appearance from the perpetually troubled Andie (Meredith Monroe) and a bittersweet graduation (May 16), but will also be preparing to leave the Creek behind. ''Joey has gotten into a prestigious school in Boston, as have Jen and Jack, so Boston will figure into our series,'' says Stupin.
Whether the show's production base will relocate from Wilmington, North Carolina, is still up in the air, though Stupin promises the show will shoot in a location that's just as ''romantic and beautiful'' as the fictional Capeside, Massachusetts. So much for that name change to ''Dawson's Frat House.''