When “Dawson’s Creek” premiered on The WB in 1998, no one knew it would become one of the defining shows for the network and one of the biggest teen dramas of all time.

Kevin Williamson, then a film assistant who had sold a spec script for “Scream,” came up with the idea for the drama, basing it on his own experience growing up in North Carolina as an aspiring filmmaker obsessed with Steven Spielberg. The pitch to executive Paul Stupin eventually turned into an outline for “Dawson’s Creek,” which first was sent to Fox. They turned it down since “Party of Five” was on the air, so they found a home at the newly founded WB.

The show follows a group of friends in Capeside, Massachusetts: Dawson Leery (James Van Der Beek), Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) and Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson) — who grew up together — and Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), who arrives from New York right before the trio enters high school. The core four remained on the series for all six seasons, with the love triangle between Dawson, Joey and Pacey at the center. Season 2 introduced Jack (Kerr Smith), who became Jen’s best friend and remained on the show for its duration.

“Dawson’s Creek” aired from 1998 to 2003, following the group through high school and college and then skipping ahead five years for the series finale. But it wasn’t without controversy. The Parents Television Council called the show one of the “crudest” during its first two seasons due to so many storylines centering around sex. (Even though the first season had very little actual sex happening between the teens, there was a lot of conversation about just that.)

Much of the criticism also circled around the Season 1 storyline in which Pacey has a romantic relationship with his high school teacher, Ms. Jacobs (Leann Hunley). The network wasn’t thrilled by the storyline and “were happy when it was over,” Williamson previously shared.

Still, the show goes down as one of the most popular teen series. Plus, many top TV writers began on the the show — including Greg Berlanti, Julie Plec, Mike White and Jenny Bicks.

Below, Variety ranks the best 25 episodes of “Dawson’s Creek.” All episodes are available to stream on HBO Max and Hulu.