How Joey and Pacey Became Dawson Creek’s Most Irresistible Couple

In season 3, episode 23, of Dawson’s Creek, feisty girl-next-door Joey Potter delivers an emotional, on-brand monologue that changed the course of the teen show’s narrative so significantly that the series can be divided into two categories: everything before Pacey and Joey got together and everything after.

Twenty years ago today, that final episode of Dawson’s stellar third season aired. “True Love” finds Joey confessing to Pacey that she’s finally ready to move forward because she’s in love with him. She’s breathless following a passion-fueled sprint from Dawson’s house to Pacey’s boat but, more crucially, she’s happy because the pendulous decision of choosing between two guys is over. It is palpable in Katie Holmes’ every expression and affectation in the scene, and it’s joyous to see Joey unburdened from the anxiety of falling for her ex’s best friend. It took a whole season for Joey to arrive at this place and for the show to be resurrected with a clean slate. And it was all thanks to a multitude of female influences who made their mark beginning with season 3, each of them instrumental in the legacy of teen TV’s most irresistible romance.

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