Name: Jack McPhee
Portrayed by: Kerr “Straight” Smith
Show: Pacey’s Creek (1998-2003)
Status: married. To a GUY
The first season of Pacey’s Creek was a lame, 13-episode love triangular mess… okay, that was all six seasons. But season one only had four characters, one of whom was getting extra-curricular with his teacher, leaving the other three to pass around their germs over and over again.
To liven things up in season two, two new teens were added to the credits so we could enjoy many more love story permutations. Pity then, the poor, dumb Creek writers, who decided to add a pair of siblings to the cast. Obviously a Flowers in the Attic storyline would have been more interesting than the angst-ridden love triangles we were given, but still.
Then it turned out that Jack McPhee was putting the freak in creek, the cape in Capeside, in fact doing everything short of putting his tongue in other boys mouths, because teenagers don’t need to see two guys kissing:
“I don’t think teenagers need to see two guys kissing on a weekly basis.” Kerr Smith
We all knew that one of the Creekers was coming out, or at least we did if we paid enough attention to the pre-publicity. We just didn’t know which one – and presumably Kerr Smith spent his time praying not to have the winning (pink) ticket in the Big Gay Lottery.
Before Jack was dragged kicking, screaming and poetry reading out of the closet, he dated Joey Potter. Probably he was confused by the name Joey. Anyway, they met when he signed on as the world’s clumsiest waiter at The Icehouse, and then stripped naked for her to draw him for her art class. Despite Joey’s claim in season six that Jack got a total boner, Jack explained to Jen that they didn’t have sex that night precisely because he didn’t: “I’m flaccid all the time and I don’t know why!” he cried. (Hilariously topical Crash reference, people.) We knew why.
Jack came out mid-season in two Very Special Episodes. In part one, Jack wrote a poem (in real-life high schools, that would be enough to make you gay anyway). A gay poem. Mean teacher Mr Peterson (love!) makes him read it aloud, except Jack runs off crying instead. The gays are so sensitive. Capeside High erupts with this salacious gossip. (Hilariously, when Luke’s Gay Dad comes out in The OC, the best that Harbor students can come up with is “His favourite TV show is Dawson’s Crack”, like OMG, zing.)
“It can’t be like Melrose Place, where there’s a gay guy on the show, he hugs and kisses a guy every episode.”
Jesse Helms Kerr Smith
Jack pretends to be straight for a while, by making out with Joey a lot. But all it needed was a little lubrication for Jack to ease his way out of the closet, so when Pacey helped him out with some spit…
Okay, FINE. In the second Very Special Episode, Pacey finishes reading Jack’s poem for him (yet does not catch The Gay), and then spits in Mr Peterson’s face. Meanwhile, Jack and Crazy Andie McPhee’s father arrives in town to quite literally straighten his son out, but fails to do so, and Jack cries some more. Daddy McPhee learned nothing from Heathers: he does not love his not-dead gay son! Jack doesn’t care because he’s here, he’s queer, and he’s got a hot new haircut: with acceptance of one’s sexuality comes access to Dippity Do.
Rainbow flag successfully flown, Jack got shipped off the abandoned corner of the script where Jen Lindley’s storylines lived. It was the start of a beautiful friendship, at least offscreen. By the following season, Jack was living with Jen and Grams, and despite his former clumsiness, was now the star football player at Capeside High.
He still didn’t go out with boys though, until he met Parker from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and took him to Dawson’s lame alterna-prom after they were banned from regular prom in case you really could catch AIDS from toilet seats, and/or spiked punch. None of Capeside High’s teachers – including Mitch Leery, for shame – interfered with this decision, because they were afraid Pacey might spit in their collective face.
Parker and Jack shared network television’s first-ever gay kiss, a beautiful and sexy moment where both actors kept their mouths clamped shut and touched lips for as short a time as possible, while Kerr Smith flapped his arms behind his back and thought “Ew, ew, ew!”. Bam-chicka-bow-whatever. Season four saw Jack get marginally gayer, when Jen forced him to join a gay youth group, and he sort of started dating Tobey, but only offscreen and without any making out.
He did make out with Jen when they were both drunk on the school ski trip, having already made out with Abby Morgan (after he came out, but before she died). Because it’s OK for teenagers to a guy and a girl kissing, even if the guy is gay and the girl is drunk.
Jack’s sexuality basically entailed poetry reading; being a football player to demonstrate that gay people can be good at sports too; and coaching a kiddie football team in a Very Special Episode that taught audiences that ‘gay’ does not mean “paedophile”. Don’t say Pacey’s Creek never taught you anything! (It taught me what boredom meant.) Senior prom saw Jack and Tobey finally share a clench-mouthed miserable kiss, before Jack took off to fake college with Jen and Grams for The College Years.
Catch up with him there for more guy-on-guy hijinx.