In the late 90/early 00s, no TV network had a chokehold on me quite like the WB. It was the home of most of my favorite shows at the time, including Dawson’s Creek and Popular. We only had one TV, so we watched it together a lot as a family, even though my parents would tune out Dawson’s Creek. At 13/14, I was so desperate to be a cool teenager. Those shows made me feel like one.
When I came across this old WB promo from 2000, I was instantly transported back to those days.
The promo video is so jam packed that you couldn’t swing a stick without hitting one of the hottest network stars of the time. James Van Der Beek, Sarah Michelle Gellar (my birthday twin), Melissa Joan Hart, Jamie Foxx. It’s been 22 years (!!) since this promo aired, but somehow it still feels like yesterday?? I turned watching it into my own sort of memory game to see how many people I could not only recognize but correctly guess what show they were on. I’ll have it be known that my ability to name literally almost every face I saw, when I cannot remember what day of the week it currently is, proves that youth is wasted on the young. Why do I still remember Brendan Fehr, but it took me three trips to the grocery store to remember to buy my kid cereal? (And for the record, I didn’t even watch Roswell.)
I know that it wasn’t meant this way, but the dream-like quality of the video now creates a nostalgic haze. Back then it was supposed to be the party you wish you could attend because of how many cool people were there. Now, I wish I could attend that party to recapture some of the sheer joy of youth, but only if it was over by 10pm. There are so many pairs of bootcut leather pants, it’s amazing. I genuinely tried to forget those, even though I owned a faux pair myself! I can’t help but look at the clothes and think ”teenagers want to dress like this now?” I mean, I did back then, but I didn’t know better!
Aside from the ridiculous fashion, there are new things I realize. I can now identify my undying love for Katie Holmes as a serious crush. Back then she just felt like the girl that I wanted to be best friends with. But while I thought Dawson was cute, Joey Potter and her smile would turn me into a heart-eye emoji. Even now, I can feel that pang of seeing her shyly mess around with everyone else. I’ve also realized that I most certainly had a crush on Nikki Cox, who starred on the comedy Unhappily Ever After — the show wasn’t even that funny, but I watched it every week. A lot of these shows were airing during the time where I was really figuring out my bisexuality, except back in the year 2000, I didn’t have a word for it.
The most defining example of my teenage bisexual feels is tucked away in a few blink or you’ll miss it moments in this promo video. During the summer of 2000, there was a show called Young Americans. I was OBSESSED. It was a weak spinoff of Dawson’s Creek and its major corporate sponsor was Coca-Cola. (Seriously, the corporate sponsor thing was out of control.) It was the only original show on during the summer, and at 14, I spent most of that summer in the house talking to my friends on AIM and needed something new to watch. It was full of pretty, young unknown actors including Kate Bosworth and Ian Somerhalder.
One of the plotlines was a tale-as-old-as-time “girl who pretends to be a boy” stories. Jacqueline, desperate for her mom’s attention, enrolls at the prestigious all-boys prep school as Jake. Jake was played by Kate Moennig, and she finds herself falling for Hamilton, who was played by Ian Somerhalder. I didn’t know what a bisexual was, but I knew that I was jealous of both of them whenever they would find themselves alone together. It was the first example of what I like to call a bisexual nightmare and set off my decades long crush on Kate Moennig that still burns.
Nostalgia is such a fascinating thing, isn’t it? One little commercial from 20 years ago opened a Pandora’s box of feelings that transported me right back to being a horny 14-year-old, for only a few minutes at least.