When "One Tree Hill" Referenced "Dawson's Creek"
Just like there probably wouldn’t be a “Dawson’s Creek” without “Beverly Hills, 90210,” there likely wouldn’t be a “One Tree Hill” without “Dawson’s Creek.”
Of the six core teen dramas, “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” are the most similar to one another because they both take place in the “real” world. What I mean by that is they are both set in small towns and are about average teenagers. In contrast, “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl” (both versions), and “90210” are all set in ritzy locales and focus on the lifestyles of rich and glamorous teens. As a result, we’re often seeing a heightened reality. “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” were more grounded in reality (some outlandish plots aside).
Of course, “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” also both aired on The WB — “One Tree Hill” premiered in the fall of 2003, just months after “Dawson’s Creek” ended — and both were shot in Wilmington, North Carolina, where they had a lot of the same crew members.
And onscreen, we saw “One Tree Hill” make direct references to “Dawson’s Creek” at least twice.
Reference #1: Episode 1.01, Pilot
“Actually, I found it. I mean, sorry. Not that I was like looking for something specifically, which implies some hideous sort of ‘Joey loves Dawson’ scenario and completely creep[s] me out, but, you know, we saw it, and...”
The first time we meet Haley (Bethany Joy Lenz), she’s bantering with Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) at Karen’s Cafe. This line comes as Lucas’ mom Karen (Moira Kelly) is about to give him a surprise gift, an old copy of Julius Caesar. Many fans expected Haley and Lucas to get together romantically at some point, à la Joey and Dawson, but the show never went that route.
Reference #2: Episode 4.13, “Pictures of You”
“I’m sorry, Dawson, it’s just, I love Pacey.”
A school project forces the characters to pair up for a bonding exercise in which part of the time is spent doing fairly funny impersonations. It’s again Haley who makes the reference, imitating Katie Holmes’ acting as Joey in a really uncanny way.
On the “One Tree Hill” rewatch podcast “Drama Queens,” Lenz and co-hosts Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush have occasionally brought “Dawson’s Creek” up, when discussing either the teen dramas that came before theirs or how both shows filmed in Wilmington. While they never quite put it in these terms, “One Tree Hill” certainly owes “Dawson’s Creek” a debt of gratitude for paving the way.
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