Early on in “Dawson’s Creek,” we got used to a familiar sight: Joey Potter, 15, frustrated and casually stunning, would traipse across the Leery family’s backyard, scale a paint-splattered extension ladder and slip into Dawson’s bedroom. We didn't see Joey trip or announce her presence or fiddle with a locked latch. Instead, she hoisted herself through the window with ease, flopped on Dawson’s (unnaturally neat) bed and exchanged quips with her best-friend-slash-sometimes-love-interest.
But we didn’t need those quips to understand who Joey was to Dawson or to the show. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, entering through the bedroom window was the ultimate sign of familiarity and intimacy. And only certain types of teens in certain types of relationships got carte-blanche window privileges. There was the boy-or-girl next door who was so clearly more than a friend. (See: Joey, Roger from “Sister Sister," Angel on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.") And the truly platonic best friend whose fidelity would withstand invitations to sit at the popular table. (See: Shawn from “Boy Meets World” or Sam on “Clarissa Explains it All.") And the rebellious (but generally unthreatening) crush with a killer middle part and an underdeveloped sense of propriety. (See: J.D. in Heathers.)
Now, in the age of facetime and insta-living, bedrooms have lost their allure as spheres of privacy. Contemporary shows are more likely to forecast budding romance with googly-eyed emojis or NSFW snaps. Consider “Pretty Little Liars," arguably today’s preeminent teen show. The thick-as-thieves main characters do spend a lot of time in one another’s bedrooms, but they use front doors to get there. How do we know they’re lifelong friends? They’re in constant communication, for one thing. And they trust one another with their digital devices. On “Pretty Little Liars,” passcodes have surpassed window-entrances as the ultimate symbol of pinky-swear-level trust.
The bedroom-window trope mainly emerges in shows and movies acknowledged as throwbacks to the days of beepers and Mr. Belding. The tween protagonist’s bedroom window, for example, gets a lot of play in "Girl Meets World," a spinoff of the ’90s cheese-fest "Boy Meets World." In Paper Moons, a nod to John Hughes’ tales of teen realization and romance, the high-school hot girl with depth slips through the window of her alternative admirer.
In 2016, the bedroom window is shutting. Displays of affection and intimacy seem to be the sole property of the digital world.