TV Series Review: Felicity (1998-2002)

Felicity was a teen drama that ran on the WB fro 1998 to 2002.  It centered on a young girl named Felicity who follows her high school crush Ben to New York for college.  After establishing herself there, the drama focused on the lives of Felicity, Ben, and their group of friends as they came of age in college at the turn of the millennium.

Felicity Porter (Keri Russell) is a shy, geeky girl living in California.  At her high school graduation, she gets up the nerve to ask her crush-to-end-all-crushes, Ben Covington (Scott Speedman) to sign her yearbook.  She’s so moved by what he writes that she dashes all her college plans (pre-med at Stanford) to follow him to the University of New York.  Her parents are not okay with this, obviously, and try to get her to reconsider, but after some waffling, she decides to stay in New York.

Once established in New York, she realizes that Ben is not interested in her so much as her friend Julie Emrick (Amy Jo Johnson).  She strikes up a sweet, awkward romance with her resident advisor Noel Crane (Scott Foley).  Over the course of her first year, she also becomes friends with a competitive pre-med student named Elena Tyler (Tangi Miller), struggles with a strange, combative roommate named Meghan Rotundi (Amanda Foreman), and deals with a flamboyant but lovable boss named Javier (Ian Gomez) at Dean & Deluca.

Over the course of her four years at the university, Felicity deals with many of the normal college issues.  Although her love triangle with Ben and Noel forms the basis for the dramatic tension in the series, the supporting characters are given their own story arcs and add a richness to the show.  Issues such as drug use, date rape, unwanted pregnancy, plagiarism, and alcoholism were covered over the show’s four seasons, and for the most part, they were covered without being too heavy-handed.

Thanks to a largely talented cast and strong writing, the show remained interesting and engaging throughout its run.  Although it faltered in the ratings during the second season (some blame Russell’s dramatic haircut while others point to the show’s move to Sunday nights) and veered into the strange in the last third of its final season, the show was one of the smartest, most realistic shows on the WB in the late 90s.

Problems with the show included Felicity’s complete inability to choose between Ben and Noel (she wanted them both, I think, which was completely unfair, not to mention impractical).  As the end of the series neared, the characters were uttering “I want to be with ____” so often that one could have created a drinking game out of that statement alone.  At some point, viewers wanted Felicity to just choose already, and it started to go on a little long.  The waffling between the two male love interests and the ill-advised time-travel arc near the end of the fourth season are the show’s major flaws, though.

The show was an entertaining look at coming-of-age in college in the late nineties.  It was a show that my mom and I bonded over when I was in middle school and early high school, and it will remain one of the seminal shows of the 90s for me.  Revisiting this show over the past two months has not only been a trip down memory lane, but it was also in many ways cathartic (it helped me get over a pretty awful breakup).  Smart, funny, and often heartbreaking, this is a show that I absolutely recommend.

Be on the lookout for a Felicity: Where Are They Now? post within the next week.  Until then, happy viewing, folks.

P.S.–I am now, and always will be Team Ben.  Sorry, Noel.

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8 thoughts on “TV Series Review: Felicity (1998-2002)

  1. Pingback: Lazy Labor Day –
  2. Mike Kueber says:

    Great review. I just finished binging on all four seasons on Netflix and loved it. My only quibble is with your two major criticisms – (1) waffling between Ben and Noel, and (2) the time travel. I don’t think there was any waffling after Season One. Although I had no idea who Felicity would go with that first summer, when she chose Ben, the die was forever cast. Although Felicity naturally had a case of buyer’s remorse, I thought it was genius for the writers to indulge that remorse by showing Felicity and the viewers through Its a Wonderful Life time travel that Ben for her was inevitable. Obviously, I’m Team Ben, too.

    • Clementine Bojangles says:

      Awesome. I’m so glad you loved the show. And I agree that bingeing on the show is the only way to fully appreciate it.

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