Throwback Thursday: One brave man revisits the Dawson’s Creek drinking game of his youth

Pete Douglas revisits an original Dawson’s Creek drinking game he helped invent in the late 90’s to see how it stacks up today.  

I remember reading about Dawson’s Creek before it even made it to New Zealand screens back in 1999.  The show was promised as a kind of Party of Five or Beverly Hills 90210 on crack – with all the ridiculous age-inappropriate casting and risque plotlines of its predecessors, but emboldened by a new secret weapon – completely OTT dialogue.  

At the time I was a massive 20-year old dork. I was awkward with girls, a wearer of cream cargo pants, teal shirts and brown shoes, and overly-sensitive to a fault.  Naturally I loved the Creek, and if I’m honest it wasn’t even in an ironic way. I had a massive Katie Holmes crush, and that was a convenient excuse to watch, but really it was just the best kind of trashy TV available. As a young man a few years after Dawson’s peak, a friend and I at a house party devised the rules as a flimsy excuse to watch the show.  And thus was born the Dawson’s Creek drinking game…   


Single drink anytime:

  • A bad song from the late 90’s/early 2000’s plays (I have to jump in here and note that someone has remarkably created a playlist of EVERY SONG FROM EVERY SEASON of Dawson’s here).
  • A bad double entendre is made.
  • Joey rows her boat on the creek.
  • Any cast member (OK – Joey) climbs the ladder to Dawson’s room.
  • A phrase no teenager would actually say is uttered by one of the teenagers.
  • A Steven Spielberg mention or reference occurs.
  • Joey’s upbringing or family is referred to as being tough/wrong side of the tracks, etc.
  • Jen’s fast-paced, promiscuous, city-slicker past in New York is referenced.
  • Jen and her Grams clash over religion.
  • A scene starts where one or more characters are wearing cargo shorts.
  • Two characters kiss.

Full vessel consume anytime:

  • Anyone cries.
  • Anyone dies.
  • Anyone gets punched.
  • Two lead characters have sex.  

Easy right?!  In order to re-create conditions of the time, I invested in a half dozen slightly warm Victoria Bitter stubbies and settled down in front of the TV, ready to play.  


Kicking things off with the Pilot, and I’m instantly drinking  – Dawson and Joey are lying on a bed watching E.T. – one Spielberg reference done. After some idle chit chat about how it’s not a good idea for Jo to sleep over anymore, this phrase comes out of Joey’s mouth:

“I just think our emerging hormones are destined to alter our relationship and I’m just trying to limit the fallout”

… Said no actual teen ever – Drink. Dawson exclaims that they “can still remain friends despite any mounting sexual theretics.” Drink.  


Boom – into the theme song – ‘I Don’t Want to Wait’ by Paula Cole. No question on the bad ’90s song drink here. Three minutes in and my initial veneer of confidence has been chinked by all the drinking of quite warm and quite bad Australian beer I’ve had to do thus far. In the next scene we are introduced to Pacey (the clown to Dawson’s earnestness) and the gang meet Jen, who emerges in super slow-mo from a taxi to the quite creepy BoDeans song ‘Hey Pretty Girl’ (drink).  Good Lord, I’m gonna have to open more VB.  

Whilst reflecting excitedly on having met Jen (Joey was there too – but in classic Y2K  She’s All That style she’s brunette and a tomboy, so no one has noticed she is attractive yet) Dawson and Pacey are shown running in cargo shorts. Pacey is even wearing white socks pulled up high to complete the look. DRINK.

This cargo/sock combo was a core part of my own personal brand cruising the bowling alleys and movie theatres of Auckland at the turn of the millennium, so I have another drink to congratulate myself on how far I’ve come. As if the cargo shorts weren’t enough, Dawson and Pacey find Mitch and Gail Leery – Dawson’s parents – pashing on the coffee table. Drink. After some awkward chat we cut to Joey rowing on the creek (drink).   

We’re only 12 bloody minutes into this thing when Sophie B Hawkins ‘As I Lay Me Down’ plays (drink). Dawson and Jen are up in conversation in Dawson’s room, and he exclaims that “all the mysteries to life’s questions can be found in Spielberg movie.” DRINK!  Meanwhile Joey climbs the ladder to Dawson’s room, before waiting for Jen to leave and hoping in. Drink.  

Jen has breakfast with Grams, where Grams refers to Joey as “The Wrong Element” which soundly slots into the narrative of Joey being from the wrong side of the tracks and gets a hearty drink.  Then Jen and Grams have a clash on religion – plus Jen says “I don’t covet a religious God.” That’s one drink for the argument and one for the ridiculous way of saying she’s an atheist.  


Cut to Capeside high, Jen and Joey are talking and Jen wants to know why her Grams rags on her ”Pick a topic” says Joey “there is my Dad the imprisoned convict or my sister impregnated by her black boyfriend…” Drink.  Later on we see Jen, Dawson and Joey chatting, where Dawson asks Jen to look the screenplay for his film – “Would you mind looking at Act 3?  I’m having a climax issue.” Cue massive eyeroll from both  Joey and myself – at least Jo doesn’t have to drink more of this warm beer I’m struggling through.    

Less than half an hour into the show and Jen and Grams are clashing on Church (drink) AGAIN. Jen doesn’t want to go, and Grams says she knows what happened in New York (drink). Jen says she will when Grams says the word penis. She mercifully doesn’t. Then we move to the Leery household where Dawson bemoans everyone’s obsession with sex in conversation with his Dad “If sex is so important than how come Spielberg has never had a sex scene in one of his movies?” Oh Dawson. Drink.  

Next we’re at the movies, and Pacey gets punched by the date of his English teacher who he is trying to seduce (I just didn’t see that coming – full vessel consume!). Luckily there’s some Joey and Dawson yelling at each other in simple non-Spielberg laced terms to give me a breather and open yet another beer. We then cut to Dawson walking Jen home, and Jen talking about how things were not so great for her in New York (drink). I’m drunk.   


When Dawson gets home Joey is sitting in his wardrobe (of course) and Dawson and Joey chat until the inevitable Spielberg reference comes from Joey this time “Even Spielberg outgrew his Peter Pan syndrome.” Drink. Joey challenges Dawson on their ability to talk about anything. “How often do you walk your dog?  You know what I mean. What time of day, how many times a week?” Drink. When Dawson can’t answer honestly we get Joey climbing the ladder out (drink) and running away crying (drink) to the sound of ‘I’ll Stand By You’ (DRINK).

I’m dead, but that’s not the end.     

As Joey starts rowing home (drink) she sees Dawson’s Mum and her co-worker kissing (drink) and intrigue is set for the next episode. I’ve thrown down four beers in 44 minutes, and decide to stop.  

What a great show. Sure, maybe any show is good if you drink constantly through it – but it’s safe to say I’m hooked on the Creek once again. Now, where are my cargo shorts…

Pour yourself a delicious VB and catch up on all episodes of Dawson’s Creek on Lightbox now


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