Thursday, May 18, 2023

Can you become, can you become a new version of you

I just watched Felicity for the first time and wanted to share some thoughts/bullet points. This was a show that would have been perfect for me to watch when it aired from 1998-2002 on the WB, especially since I'm the same age as the protagonist, but while I was well aware of it, I never watched it...until recently. Now, I watched J.J. Abrams' other shows, Alias and Lost, but never this one. Yes, Felicity was created by J.J. Abrhams (and Matt Reeves). Which is so weird. This show is so different from Alias or Lost

Keri Russell plays Felicity Porter, a girl who has just graduated high school in Palo Alto, California. Her parents want her to go to college at Stamford and become a doctor. She decides she's going to follow her crush, Ben Covington (Scott Speedman) across the entire country to attend UNY (University of New York; not to be confused with NYU, which is a real school). She has never talked to Ben, but gets up the nerve to ask him to sign her yearbook and he writes that he wished he had known her better which makes her think that he likes her. Or something. She finds out where he's going to college and ends up there too. Now, if the genders had been switched, that would have been a little problematic. Although, it is still stalkerish behavior that she followed a boy college.

Once there, she makes some new friends, including her RA, Noel Crane (Scott Foley) which turns romantic and soon there will be a love triangle between her, Ben, and Noel. And there's some other drama, of course. This show ran for four for each year of Felicity's journey though college. And now onto my thoughts. Also, I'm going into this as thought you're familiar with the show.  If you've never seen this show and don't want to be spoiled, maybe don't read this:

1. Who is Sally? - As a narrative device, the show has Felicity send taped messages (yes, with a cassette tape; way to show your age, show!) to her French tutor, a woman named Sally Reardon. Pardon, mais Felicity ne parle pas francais! We never meet Sally, but she does send Felicity her own recordings and she is voiced by Janeane Garofalo. Sally must be a very trusted confidant because Felicity sends some of her most intimate and personal thoughts to her. Like, Sally had a lot of dirt on her! There's one particular episode where she makes a tape for Sally where she tells her what she wonder what it will like to be with a man for the first time, physically and sexually. It's so cringe. Well, guess what? There's a dorm party happening that night and somebody asks her if she has any tapes they can play at the party and she shows them where her music is (I guess she was distracted) and somehow her tape to Sally was mixed in with her regular tapes and that person (I forget who it was) grabs it, thinking it's a mixed taped? I guess. I just thought of something: why are these people playing and listening to cassette tapes? In the late '90s, I was listening to CDs. I can understand why Felicity was using the tapes to record her messages to Sally, but as for listening to music? Were we not able to burn CDs back then? I honestly don't remember. Anyway, surprise, surprise, the tape is played and everyone hears her highly embarrassing message. She shouts for someone to turn it off, but nobody does. So she just runs up and rips it out of the tape deck. Honestly, Felicity. If you have a cassette with a very personal recording on it, maybe don't keep it with your other tapes! 

Anyway, back to Sally. I really thought we were going to meet her, perhaps in the last season, but no, we never do. In fact, it seems like after season 2, they pretty much drop Sally as a narrative device, but they do bring her back for some of the last episodes of the series, like they forget about her, then realized that maybe they should have Felicity corresponding with her again. IDK, I personally thought they should have just had Keri Russell narrate the show as Felicity. 

2. What's in the box? - Felicity's roommate is a girl named Megan who's into Wicca and she's very opinionated and isn't afraid to tell you what she thinks of you. I would describe her style as "club goth". She and Felicity are very different people and she doesn't particularly like Felicity the first two seasons, but by the end of the series, they are good friends. Anyway, Megan has a box (about the size of shoebox) and she makes it clear to Felicity in several episodes that she is never, ever to open the box. I thought for sure we were going to get a great reveal of finding out what was in the box whether it was in the last episode of season 1 or the last episode of the whole series. But we never find out what was in the damn box! Ugh! I wanted to know. Was it drugs? Was it a gun? Was it a severed finger? Was it a sex toy? Was it embezzled money? Was it a compromising video? Was it Gwyneth Paltrow's head?  Honestly, none of those would have surprised me. I was just disappointed we never find out what was in the box. "What's in the box?!?!" 

3. My two least favorite storylines are back-to back - Ugh, yes. This came in season 3 which is probably why it took me a long time to finish that season because there were times when I would go weeks without watching an episode because these two back-to-back storylines just seemed to make the show drag on forever. So a quick set-up: we are introduced to a new character at the beginning of season 3: a British girl named Molly who makes her own clothes and is into crystals and charms or something. IDK; honestly, I could care less about this character. I felt like she added absolutely to to the show and was unnecessary; I didn't get the point of her. She's only in 14 episodes which surprised me. I guess they brought her in to replace Julie who leaves towards the beginning of season 3. Felicity, Julie, Molly, and Elena all live in this ridiculous huge apartment. Actually, I was always confused who was living where and with who at certain times because it always seemed to change. I need to see if I can find a chart to help me with that. 

Anyway, back to the topic. Right after Julie leaves, we're about to start on the first of my most hated storylines of the show. So Felicity actually moves into this massive apartment after Julie leaves and takes her old room. She finds COCAINE in the closet! I'm thinking, Ooh! This is getting good! Who do the drugs belong to? Were they Julie's? She's got a lot on her plate concerning some drama with her biological parents that she recently found. Or perhaps they're Ben's? He's dating Felicity and staying over at the massive apartment lately now. He's got his own drama and stress to deal with. Or does it belong to one of the other roommates? Well, yes...and no. The drugs belong to Molly, but really they belong to her boyfriend, James. Who the f is James is what I asked when I first heard about him. We have never seen or heard from this "James." And for a minute I thought maybe Molly was making him up and that would have been interesting, but no, he really exists and we see him on the show and they pretty much act like he's been there the entire time. We go through this whole boring storyline where Molly is trying to quit James and the cocaine, but everytime she thinks she is done, he pulls her back in! This storyline pivots right into the next storyline I hate because while there's a party going on at the massive apartment, here comes James and he's got a gun! I guess he plans to shoot Molly? Or himself in front of Molly? IDK. But he ends up shooting some random blonde girl named Avery, and ugh, would it be in bad taste to say I wished she had stayed dead? Calm down, let's all remember she's a fictional character. Yes, Avery technically dies, but she will be brought back to life in the ambulance and Ben is there to witness it all. Avery becomes obsessed with Ben and starts buying him all these gifts and invites him to her family's beach house. Or something. (She comes from a rich family). And OMG, it is soooooo boring. Felicity, rightly, is not happy about this arrangement, but Ben tells her nothing's going on. Okay, he may believe that, but it's so obvious Avery is trying to get between the two of them. This storyline is never ending and I really wished Avery had died because she's so boring. I don't even care that much about Ben and Felicity as a couple, I was kind of hoping she would break them up, but nope. Oh, sure, they have their fights, but in the end they stay together. Finally, she just goes away. Hallelujah. 

4. Ben vs Noel - So before I watched this series, I knew there was a love triangle with Felicity, Ben, and Noel. However, I was just thinking she would alternate between the two of them. Thinking back, that seems kind of weird and I don't know why I would think that. I guess I thought her time spent romantically with them would be even, but it's not. At all. She dates Noel when she's a freshman and he's a sophomore, but that is the only time she dates him. She starts dating Ben at the beginning of second season after she goes on a road trip with him during their summer after freshman year. They don't date too long as there is a little hiccup, but then they get together towards the end of the second season and they're pretty much together for the rest of the series. That isn't to say there aren't any obstacles, but there are. Obviously, Avery, is one. Another huge one is that Felicity sleeps with Noel at the beginning of season four. Felicity is stressed out because her dad doesn't support her wanting to study art and thinks she should be a doctor, Ben is stressed out because he's decided he wants to be a doctor (which to me, makes no sense, but it's a storyline, so whatever). Anyway, Felicity seeks comfort with Noel and they sleep together...she keeps it a secret from Ben even though Richard, Elena, Javier and her school therapist all know about it. (The first two are accidental, but she tells her Javier and her therapist about it). I really thought Javier was going to spill the beans, but it's actually f*cking Noel who does. Good job, Noel. So, of course Ben is pissed and they break up....but they end up getting back together towards the end of the series. But not before Ben sleeps with a woman who his dad is an AA sponsor for. She is a little older than him (she is played by Lisa Edelstein aka Dr. Cuddy from House) and she ends up getting pregnant. She keeps it a secret from Ben for months so he's already back with Felicity when she tells him. At first, Ben doesn't want anything to do with the baby, but then he changes his mind when he realizes how crappy his own dad was, so he wants to be there for his child. The only (only? ha!) wrinkle is that Lauren is moving to Arizona where her parents live and there's already a job lined up for her. Actually, let me hold that thought because a lot of this takes place in the finale which is a separate point I want to talk about.

But back to Ben vs Noel, I honestly didn't really care who she ended up with. Hell, a part of me was hoping she would end up with Owen the art student (but not really cuz I knew it would never happen). If I were forced to choose, I would say Noel. I just think there was more potential there for a relationship, they always just seemed to have a stronger bond and Ben just seemed to be more distant. To be fair, I'm sure there would have been lots of drama with Felicity and Noel if they dated for a couple of years. Also, I find it unrealistic that this so-called nerdy girl followed the coolest and most popular boy from her high school (I honestly feel like Felicity would have been more popular than Ben, but whatever) and ended up with him. I feel like it would have been better if she had ended up with Noel. Like, she did intend to end up with Ben, but in the end, she found someone better and ended up with him. It almost ends tied up in a neat bow. 

5. The finale - So back to the whole Ben/Felicity/Lauren/impending baby of it all. Ben proposes to Felicity and she says yes. Then he decides he wants to move to Arizona to be closer to his son when he's born. So the proposal is called off. Felicity is not staying in New York, but instead will be returning home to Palo Alto where she will attend classes there to become a doctor. At UNY, she decided to change her major to art, but then after she graduates, she decides to be a doctor, after all. What a way to waste your time, Felicity. Oh, well, I suppose that is realistic. Sometimes you think you want to be one thing, but then realize it's unrealistic or won't take you very far in life, so you go with the more grounded choice. 

At the very end of the show, with a "Six months later" text added to the screen, Felicity is outside one of her classes and guess who comes up from behind and taps her on the shoulder? Why, it's Ben! You see, he convinced Lauren to pack up all her things and move with their baby to Palo Alto when she had a job and a support system in Arizona. Seriously, WTF, Ben? It's fine that you want to move because you want to be closer to Felicity, but why are you making your baby mama do the same thing? I found the part that Lauren and her new baby followed him was a bit unrealistic, but whatever. So Ben and Felicity go on to be doctors and live happily ever after. Whoo hoo a whoppity dee doo.

But wait....I lied. That was NOT the finale. It SHOULD have been the finale. It was MEANT to be the finale (I believe), but there are still FIVE episodes left! Apparently, this is because the network needed a certain number of episodes and they were five short when they submitted the show that was meant to be the finale, so there are five more episodes and they are absolutely bonkers and insane...and we'll get to that in my next bullet point. 

6. Time Travel - Yes, you read that right. I am not sh*thing you. This show, which is grounded in reality, actually has Felicity time travel. Good f*cking lord. I don't think they even time traveled in Buffy and that show dealt with supernatural stuff all the time! 

So here's the deal: Felicity tells us how happy she is with Ben in Palo Alto. Back in New York, Noel is getting married to some girl he works with (him dating her was a boring storyline in the last season). They're supposed to go there for his wedding. But before that, two things happen, one of them pretty tragic. Apparently Elena died in a car accident when she was on her way to Columbia for med school...I'm sorry, what? Why? What was the point of killing her off? Well, it will make sense later...but it also won't. The other thing is that Felicity and Ben have made friends with a girl (I don't remember her name) in their classes and Felicity catches them MAKING OUT in the effing school library. WTF is wrong with Ben? And then later we will learn that he's been doing this for a "few months". Seriously, WTF, Ben? Ben SUCKS. He effing moved to effing California to be closer to his effing gf and this is what he effing does to her? And they STILL (spoiler alert!) end up together. Ugh! Ha! I guess I'm more Team Noel than I thought.

Okay, so remember how I told you how Megan (her roommate turned good friend) is into Wicca? Well, she's dabbled in a few spells including one where she wants to make Felicity clumsy (I forget why; just to be mean, I guess) and a love spell for Felicity and Ben after Ben finds out about her sleeping with Noel. Well, both spells technically work. Felicity is clumsy and she and Ben do sleep together, but they won't get back together until later. But at least these were things that could happen in real life...whether or not a spell helped them along or not. Felicity is telling Megan that she wished she had ended up with Noel after they slept together instead of going back to Ben and Megan tells her she knows a spell for that and performs it, but Felicity just goes to sleep....and when she wakes up she's on the roof where she and Noel slept together and this is right after it happened. Okay, first of all, maybe go back before you cheat on your boyfriend so you can at least break up with him, then tell Noel how you feel. She already knows that Noel has feelings for her. But she pretty much confesses to Ben right away what happened and wants to break up with him, then tells Noel she broke up with Ben and wants to get with him. Noel is (rightly) freaked out by this and claims she's acting weird which she IS. They do start dating, but he runs into his old girlfriend, Hannah (played by Jennifer Garner...this is when Alias was first airing, so they must have taken a week off from filming that) and they start getting chummy again. A little too chummy that I actually thought that in the "real" timeline, she was the one he was getting married to (but it's not her). 

She sees Elena and gets all freaked out and happy that she's alive and of course Elena has no idea why she's acting so weird. She confesses to both Ben and Noel that she's from the future, but of course they don't believe her....UNTIL she tells Ben that his dad is going to end up in the hospital and other stuff that he wouldn't know yet and sure enough it happens so he believes her. In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself there was an explanation for all this, like surely this wasn't happening. It was all just a dream or Felicity was tripping' something big. The most hilarious part was that she told Megan about the spell she performed and Megan has no idea what she was talking about and even she didn't believe her!

The finale (the actual finale) is a f*cking clip show. Oh, you have no idea how ANGRY and LIVID clip shows make me! I despise them with a passion! They're so pointless and dumb! I bet 45 minute of the show was from previous episodes! The new stuff has Felicity talking to the author of the time travel spell that Megan performed. The book isn't written yet, but somehow they find out the guy who will write she goes to visit him and he believes her and tries to help her, pretty much by revising her past and this is why we a clip show for the finale. I think this is why (I'm assuming) most people just ignore all the episodes after the one where they graduate because that one feels like the finale and the rest of it is just stupid BS! 

In the "real" timeline, there was a fire at the school and Felicity gets trapped in the art room and Noel helps her escape. Well, in this parallel timeline, the fire still happens, only Noel dies in the fire! Which makes no sense because Felicity wasn't even there for him to save! So what was he doing that he died? I'm so confused! 

Okay, so anyway, in one of the last scenes, Felicity wakes up in her bed in the "real" timeline and apparently she had a big fever and dreamt all of this. So I was thinking, Oh, so it was all just a dream (a long-ass dream!) and this never happened. I'm still trying to rationalize all this. Because Felicity is a rational show and there should be no reason why time travel exists in its universe! And I'm saying this as someone who loves time travel sh*t!  But then we see everyone at Noel's wedding (the very last scene) and Elena is there! I was so confused because in this timeline, she should be why is she there? So I went on Reddit which directed me a clip on YouTube where J.J. Abrahams says there's a deleted scene (and it is shown) where in the timeline where Felicity goes back in time, she tells Elena to go to med school at Duke instead of her first choice, Columbia. This is because Elena dies in a car accident on her way to Colombia. I mean, you can get into a car accident anywhere, but whatever. She makes Elena promise her that she'll go to Duke...which Elena does which explains why she's still alive. I mean, they couldn't put this scene in the actual show instead of the 45 minutes of clips we've already seen of this show? Dumb. Also, this means that Felicity really DID time travel, thus the reason Elena is alive when she goes back to the "real" timeline. This show...ugh....if only the stupid network (WB) had just let them end on the episode where they graduated. Let them air static at nine pm on Mondays for the next five weeks! (I don't even know what day/time Felicity aired). 

7. Guest Stars - John Ritter had a recurring role as Ben's dad. I already mentioned Jennifer Garner played Noel's girlfriend. (She was in a few episodes in the first season, then came back towards the end of the series. And yes, I do know she was married to Scott Foley for a minute). Although this was before she had Alias, so she wasn't famous yet, so I guess she was really the guest star in the last season. 

Donald Faison would show up pretty often in the first three season, though he wasn't a main cast member. He played Elena's boyfriend. They were pretty serious and almost get married towards the end, but don't go through with it. There's this whole storyline where his character is going to Africa to help with missionary work. Please! He wasn't going to Africa; he was going to start filming Scrubs!

In the first season, Julie has a storyline where she's trying to find her birth mom (she's adopted and has never searched for her birth parents until now) and she does. She's played by Jane Kaczmarek and I'm thinking, Okay Malcolm in the Middle is going to start in filming in a year so they're going to have to wrap up her storyline. She's in a few episodes in the first season and just a handful in the second. Julie wants to meet her father, but her mom hasn't told him about her (I forget why), so she follows her to a restaurant and sees them dining. He's played by Bradley Whitford (yes, I do know he and Jane are married IRL) and he's only in that episode. This is because he was probably filming The West Wing by then. 

Tyra Banks and Keenan Thompson both had about 4-5 episode arcs in season 3 (not at the same time, though). Noel was trying to date Tyra's character, but he was being a real creep about it, He first meets her because he's a tech guy and she needs help with her computer, so he does that. While he's fixing her computer, he sees her password out in the open (not very smart of her to do that), and he uses that to open her emails to find out stuff about her. Yeah, not cool, Noel. With Keenan, he plays a character who helps Elena while she's temporarily blind (I forget why she couldn't see) and she likes him and agrees to go out with him. Then when she sees that he's overweight, she's not as enthused. Finally, she gets over that and does find out she likes him, but this is when Donald Faison comes back for a little bit and she tells Keenan's character she's going back to her former boyfriend. 

Lionel Richie was a guest star on one episode. I love Lionel Richie, but it was so totally random and he even doesn't get to sing. Javier and Noel are going to Atlantic City to see him in concert. Only they don't have tickets and they're all sold out (well, duh). But they do talk to him when they're in the bathroom. IDK, if you're going to approach a celebrity, maybe not do it in a bathroom. Also, I don't know how it works, but I would guess celebrity performers would have access to a private bathroom if they were performing at a large venue. 

8. The Haircut - I didn't watch Felicity in real time, but even I was aware when Keri Russell cut her hair and all the uproar it received. This happened at the very beginning of the second season. Looks, it's just hair and it will go back, but I have to agree it wasn't the most flattering. People with curly hair should not get their hair cut that short! I know because when I was younger, I had super curly hair and got it cut pretty short. Luckily, this happened the summer after first grade and not when I was in high school or college. But even at the young age, I knew I looked horrible and I still cringe when I look at photos of that time. One her hair starts growing back, it looks much better. Honestly, if they wanted Felicity to get a drastic change, they should have just had her hair straightened. Duh. That's what they do in the last season...all of a sudden her hair is straightened.

9. Dean & DeLuca - Over the series, Felicity and Ben work at this coffeeshop. And this is a real place. Usually, they don't use real coffee shops in shows. Think Central Perk or Cafe Nervosa. I have heard of Dean & DeLuca, but I have never been to one, so I did some research. 

....a few moments later....

Okay, I'm confused. From the research Googling I've done, it appears D&D was an upscale grocery store? Huh? On the show, it's a little cafe that sells coffee and snacks like brownies. So did the show make it a coffee shop and it's a grocery store in real life? Also, looks like they closed their stores a few years ago.

10. All the cheating - There's a lot of cheating that goes on in this show. First, we have the cheating of people in relationships: Felicity cheats on Ben with Noel, Elena cheats on Donald Faison with her hot neighbor, Ben cheats on Felicity with that girl at their new school towards the end, and I'm sure there's other examples I'm missing. But there's also academic cheating. In the first season, Ben and Felicity are working on a paper and since his computer is acting up, she offered to spell check it for him and bring it to him to their class tomorrow. Well, she ends up more than spellchecking it...she rewrites a few passages! She rewrites enough that the teacher is suspicious and knows Ben didn't write this and therefore gets accused of not writing his own paper which is technically true. I don't know what Felicity was thinking.

Then, in the last season, Felicity has to write a paper for her art history class which will count for a big chunk of her grade Because of all the drama that's been going on in her life, she hasn't even started on it and it's due, in like, two days. Megan suggests she just go to the library and find and copy a dissertation that a graduate student wrote on a topic about art. Felicity tells her she'll get caught if she does that and Megan assures her she knows other students have done it before and never got caught (mostly cause they denied it!) She also tells her that nobody ever reads the dissertations so they'll never know. Now I would agree with Megan because those things look long and boring, but you would think her art history teacher would be familiar with any of those dissertations. (BTW, I forgot to mention in the guest stars section, her art history teacher is played by Jane Lynch. She wears very conservative skirts and blouses, so a far cry from Sue Sylvester!) Felicity ends up copying a 30 page dissertation and turning it in as her own. The next day the teacher wants to talk to her and Felicity is scared. The teacher tells her it's the best papers she's read and she wants her to present it to the school board to be published. Ha! I knew that was going to happen! In the end, Felicity confesses before it goes too far and she gets an F on the assignment, but is still able to pass the course and thus graduates. 

Bonus - The technology - Since this show takes place between 1998-2002, the technology is quite different! First of all, nobody has a cell phone in this which is really weird. Also, everyone uses this type of Mac: 

Haha, remember those? I never had one...I didn't get my first Mac until 2009. But they look so bulky compared to the Mac computers of today! I do like the different colors you can choose from, though.

Well that's my review (and some rants!) about Felicity. That reminds me: I need to finish watching The Americans. 

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