The anxiety was escalating in the Dawson’s Creek story room… As the day progressed and the story process did not, moving from constructive dialectic into something less collegial, twenty-seven-year-old Greg Berlanti, a former movie producer’s assistant who had just started writing TV the year before, said something that changed all our lives: “Pacey kisses Joey.”
What? I remember thinking. “You can’t do that. Joey is Dawson’s girl. Remember, they are soul mates, and that is the closest thing we have to a franchise around here.”
But Greg was so impassioned, as was his usual state, that he jumped up, grabbed a cheerful color marker from Tammy, and drew a triangle on one of the boards, writing “Pacey” at one point, “Joey” at another, “Dawson” at another. “No, I’m serious,” he said. “Pacey kisses Joey. Think about it!”
And that’s when it hit me. Of course! A love triangle. Heresy is exactly what the show needed. Not only did we have a story, we had a story engine, a dramatic problem that would create many other stories. There had been a love triangle on the show before, between Dawson, Jen, and Joey. There had once even been a kiss between Joey and Pacey. But these stories never went anywhere. As one person closely affiliated with the series put it, “Those ideas were floating around in the ether; Greg pulled them out and focused on them.” For the first time, we had a series. The Katie Holmes-Josh Jackson Kiss, the love triangle it created, and the stories that it bore drove the show to 128 episodes, six seasons, and international acclaim.