Boob Tube: Katie Holmes, please be Joey Potter again
Even those who are generally out of touch with celebrity gossip have probably heard about Katie Holmes filing for divorce from Tom Cruise last week. If you have been paying attention to these things for a while, you will also remember their whirlwind “romance” in 2005, the most famous marker of which was the manic couch-jumping incident on Oprah. If you are me, then you have been concerned about this relationship from the start.
Tom Cruise is a creep, and I don’t think that requires an explanation so I won’t bother. And Katie Holmes is Joey Potter. Of course, my brain knows that is not true. It knows that Dawson’s Creek was/is not real, and therefore Katie was just acting. The fact that this also means Pacey Witter is not real, and thus will never be my boyfriend, is only one of the many disturbing implications of the fictional nature of Dawson’s Creek.
Facetiousness aside though, it really did feel like I grew up with Joey Potter. She was the big sister I never had. That is why Katie’s creepy marriage to Tom was so distressing to me; Joey Potter would never do that.
I am not the only person who has trouble differentiating between my favourite television characters and the actors who play them; emotionally, if not intellectually.
My friends joined me in my disappointment when Kiefer Sutherland kept getting himself into DUI related trouble. Jack Bauer (24) was beyond reproach, when he broke the law it was always in a bad-assy save-the-world kind of way, not a sad middle-aged drunk celebrity way.
A close friend of mine who harbours a serious crush on Dr. Jack Shephard from Lost is equally horrified every time Matthew Fox appears in the news for some shameful act, like allegedly assaulting a woman in a bar.
And, while I am a tad too young to have watched the scandal with Shannen Doherty of Beverly Hills 90210 unfold in real time, I saw a great E! True Hollywood Story which explained to me how unhappy fans were when she became an infamous Hollywood party girl and ruined Brenda Walsh’s good name.
As a television viewer it is easy to get intensely attached to the characters. This speaks to the power inherent to the medium of television. We see these people over and over. We follow their lives closely for years. We cant help but really care about what happens to them. We form relationships with them. I cry every time I watch the series finale of Dawson’s Creek. Every time.
The character development that is possible on long-running television programs in unparalleled in other modern art forms. Serial novels can also do this well, but I haven’t come across any good ones in a while. Sorry, Katniss.
I am by no means suggesting that television actors should be committed to forever living up to our expectations of their characters. That would be crazy. They, of course, need to live their own lives as the non-fictional human beings they actually are. I am merely drawing attention to the intensity of the relationships that are formed with well-written television characters.
I am also saying that my world might crumble if Kyle Chandler ever does anything un-Coach Taylor-y.