Joey Potter is a woman of many talents: she can say really long words out of only one side of her mouth, tuck her hair behind her ear (even when it’s already behind her ear), restore a resilient, rock steady hymen even when Pacey Witter has slam dunked that bad boy out of existence and apparently, she can sing.
This is one of those inexplicable character traits that writers like to build upon over the course of a shows duration. In a show like Friends, the writers made Monica a bat-shit crazy OCD cleaning lady, Joey a fat sandwich obsessive, Ross a neurotic potential serial killer, and Phoebe a brightly dressed lunatic. These were all things that began as maybe one joke in the first season which became a regular, tiresome crutch: ‘Somebody ate my sandwich! Monica’s cleaning the toilet for the 5th time today! Ross is killing a kitten! Phoebe’s talking to the ghost of her dead grandmother whilst eating cereal out of the bathtub! Why am I so fat now?!’ Dear audience, cue laughter.
On Dawson’s Creek they had a lot of shit like this. Jen always went for the wrong man. Pacey was an unsufferable ladies man. Dawson cried. A lot. And Joey liked to break into song in order to snare or infuriate gaggles of besotted men who wanted to hit a home run without having to step onto the pitch.
Joey can’t sing. She’s one of those deluded people who often crop up on TV talent shows mumbling Shania Twain songs in a little girl voice and staring at their minimally shuffling feet. She’s a one woman show that no-one has paid to see, a gruesome cabaret of virtue exhibited via coy mono-syllabic renditions of songs nobody wanted to hear. Even more disturbing, is that it does the trick. Men are left agog – open mouthed and pious, swinging their dicks into a graveyard of unsated girl-next-door fantasies.
She is Capeside’s own siren song, crashing ships into her harbour and devouring the remains.
It all begins in Season 1 Episode 12, a classic Creek episode in which the Miss Windjammer (sorry, what?) pageant does it’s yearly contest and all the Capeside losers sit around and discuss it. Joey, proto-tv-teen-feminist that she is, makes a speech about how the whole thing is ‘the most archaic display of ageism, racism and sexism known to man’, which is fair enough. Except J-Potts’ routine experiments with hyperbole mean that on this occasion she’s basically comparing the sins of the pageant as being worse than such other examples of racism, sexism and ageism as the KKK, female castration, and non-existent employment opportunities for the over-50’s. Might want to watch how you run your mouth there, Ms Potter. Especially since you’ll be donning an evening gown and batting your lashes at the same pageant in less than 30mins time, anyway.
No one pays much attention to any of that, anyway. Jen confesses to being a child beauty pageant star and Dawson makes some kind of a dirty crack about how she probably ‘twirled a baton’ *wink, wink. Cos she’s a slut, you guys! He meant dick* which Jen doesn’t take too well.
Anyway, because the winning prize is $5’000 and a trip to New York (once again, top marks to Dawson’s tact here, suggesting that Jen should enter so she can win the prize and return to the debauched playing fields of New York City orgies and threeways that she’s supposedly just been exiled from. Real nice, fella), Joey decides that pah! sexism, ageism and racism my ass, I want a slice of that pie. And with Jen’s My Fair Lady style assistance decides to be a contestant (because MONEY).
Dawson is appalled by this. His purity alarm goes haywire. You can see him thinking my god, please don’t let there be a swimsuit round. It’s worth mentioning that Pacey also applies for the contest. Because he’s the class clown with daddy problems, and that fills his comedic-routine-pissing-off-pops quota for the week. Also, he’s poor and needs the money. Everyone’s poor in Capeside. The JobCentre Plus must be packed out in that town. Dawson seems more excited about Pacey entering the beauty contest than he does poor little Josephine Potter. Shit to be her.
Deep down, Joey isn’t doing this for the money. She’s doing it to make her best pal ditch the torch he’s carrying for the wild-cat blonde and pick up hers. Hello, lover, you can hear her purr between attempts to eye-fuck the shit out of the blonde, accommodatingly-foreheaded boy next door.
Onto Miss Windjammer: She walks in heels, you guys! She wears an evening gown! Make-up! On her face! And even better, she sings a song from Les Miserables. It goes on for about 6 minutes and it’s harrowing stuff. Dawson is slobbering in the corner, hiding his hard on behind a cleverly positioned clipboard, whilst Joey screeches and warbles and stands there like a limp piece of cardboard with no reinforcements.
Jen, clearly gutted that her protoge has actually done well and not fallen flat on her face as she secretly hoped, is stood with the love-buzzed Dawson who says ‘You’ve done an amazing job on Joey, my god’ as if she’s one of those shit-heap cars on Pimp My Ride that got given to Xzibit to shove a bunch of shiny, unnecessary crap into.
You have pimped that ride, Ms Lindley (is what he would have said, probably with a large scotch in his hand, in Dawson’s After Dark, the TV show that the writing team vehemently rejected my countless suggestions of).
And that’s that. She wins first runner up and the endless, obsessive, frightening love of a boy she’ll likely one day have to place a restraining order on. Job done.
In the third season they revisit ‘Joey sings for love’ in a horrendous scene of karaoke in which her and Dawson duet on Daydream Believer by The Monkees. By this point in the show, all bets are pretty much off for her and Dawson. It’s all about Pacey Witter, and the furrow browed, angry young man sits and stews for a good half a minute watching the unpleasantness of his girl to be squawking along with her ex, wishing that he could be the one up there as her pseudo-Davey Jones.
Singing, people. The way to ruin relationships, break up friendships and win a boys heart.
This obviously works a treat, too, as just a few episodes down the way they both sail away into the sunset together on the good ship True Love (no, seriously. Pacey calls his boat True Love. Personally, I would have called it ‘An Entire Summer Of Heavy Petting, Awkward Sexual Tension and Wholesome Snuggles’, but then Pacey probably couldn’t afford the paint to write that) whilst Dawson sobs. Alone. Forever.
Skip to Season 5, aka ‘Dawson’s Creek: The College Years’ (another suggestion of mine that the writing team swiftly rejected), and Joey has nobody. In episode 11 of this season, Jen has just popped Dawson’s cherry like a cork on a dusty old bottle of ‘sparkling wine’ that someone (Jen) mistakenly thought was champagne, Pacey has become Joey’s bestest pal in the whole wide World, and Joey is seriously peeved that the boy next door has gone back to square one and finally done it with the girl he previously thought too ‘experienced’ to stick it into.
Joey’s eternal suffering is quelled for a moment in time as she discovers that (bore) she got all A grades at College! She hugs her English professor – the resident PILF – and her roommate (Audrey, best character ever, I miss Busy Philipps…) thinks that means they’ve had sex or something. Anyway, Pacey gets promoted and a big fat raise / bonus in work and everyone heads to the college bar to get so drunk that (hopefully) nobody can remember their magniloquent vocabulary.
Jen’s tasty-ex Charlie (he plays bass and rides a motorcycle, y’all! What a stud) played by perpetual babe Chad Michael Murray (I’d Chad Michael his Murray…) is there playing with his crappy, college-rock band and SPARKS COLLIDE you guys. He was a jerk to Jen blah-blah-yaddah-yaddah-boom-baddah and for some reason Joeys first reaction isn’t ‘I need to bang this playah so hard, yo. Your move, Lindley…’.
But as we all know, the more Joey resists, the more the men arrive in their swarms. And arrive he does. With drinks no less! And a suggestion that she’s (you’re kidding) uptight! We all know how this goes.
Pacey and Audrey are there playing pool, not really missing party-pooping-Potter one bit, although Pacey is wondering where the hell his Jagerbomb and change from a $100 that he gave to her earlier has gone when lo and behold, the cacophonous riot that is Joey Potter on a microphone hits the stage. Singing an underwhelming, heinous rendition of Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me, no less, and getting wild. She thrashes her hair about, does a nana shuffle with her feet, keeps her thumbs through her belt loops and at one point even screams. Charlie looks like he’s humping her through his bass. HOME RUN.
She gives him a stupid, barely there smooch backstage and that’s it: the wind cries Joey.
Classic Josephine Potter, you guys. She even refuses a ride home on his motorbike (is she insane?) because as everyone knows once you say yes to that shit, you become one of those poor Jen Lindley bastards who die alone from a broken heart.
Aside from being a total playa and constant long winded sexual analysis, singing is just about the only thing she ever seems to give to relationships. The single match that burns a thousand trees. And Joey? She just likes to sit back and watch that shit burn.
Pacey Witter knows this better than anyone. Sister got given a $100 dollar bill to buy a round for the table, and what did she do with it? It’s probably stashed away in a memory box under her bed with a sticker on it that reads ‘things I’ve gotten from boys who like me’ and includes a test slide of blood (Dexter Morgan style) from a fist fight between Dawson and Pacey, a vial of Dawson’s tears, Jack McPhee’s heterosexuality, the manhood of every bloke she’s ever not had sex with and an I.O.U. note off Dawson for his virginity that she’ll likely use as leverage next time she needs another fucking movie made about her.
Lesson learned. Need a stalker? Another heart to hang from your wall like a stuffed antelope head? A person to sex with that you won’t actually sex with? Fear not. Showtunes, 60s pop hits and college-rock cover bands will all work in your favour to hoodwink those trophies straight into your grasp. Just make sure you sing them with only half of your mouth. And never say ‘Yes’ to anyone, ever.