TV Rewind: Felicity, “Sophomoric” and “The List”

11 Apr

Felicity, Episodes 2.1 and 2.2
“Sophomoric” and “The List”
Original Air Dates: Sept. 26 & Oct. 3, 1999

N.B. Julie Hammerle (of the blog Hammervision and on Twitter as @juliehammerle) and I have been writing about Felicity for the past several months over at This Was Television. To start the second season, we’re moving our posts over to TV Ate My Wardrobe. We hope you enjoy all the ’90s nostalgia. Please feel free to comment and relate some of your own college stories. 

Felicity 2.02 selfie

Julie: I’ve only seen Season 2 of Felicity once, so I think I keep getting the events of this season confused with what happens in Season 3. I have a vague idea of what to expect, but I am by no means a sophomore year expert. It’s kind of fun to watch it that way.

The season kicks off with everyone back at school. Felicity and Meghan are RA’s and roommates, which really defeats the whole purpose of being an RA, i.e. getting to have your own room and having it paid for. The girls’ room is basically the same as their room last year; it probably is the same room. So, as far as living conditions go, not much has changed for Felicity.

Ben is still living with Sean, and Julie has moved into the loft as well, because 1) Sean has a crush on her and he’s friend zoning himself and 2) Julie pretty much wants to make Ben’s life a living hell. I mean, she moves in under the guise of the fact that she hates her freshman cheerleader roommates, but really the chance to make things awkward for Ben is a major selling point.

Elena has moved into an apartment with Noel, which…did she consult Felicity before agreeing to this? The whole thing is so incestuous, but also so college. Felicity’s best friend is living with the guy whose heart she trampled on.

I feel like the tone of the show shifted between the first and second seasons. There’s a lot more angst already. Maybe it’s because the living situations are so emotionally charged. People are taking sides. It’s Noel and Julie vs. Ben and Felicity (with Elena and Sean in the middle). And now that Felicity has decided to ultimately choose herself, how will that affect the dynamics?

What did you think about the start of Season 2?

Felicity 2.01 Ben

Emma: So season 2 of Felicity and thanks back of the DVD box for ruining an integral plot point that doesn’t happen until episode 2 (that she becomes single). There are better ways to tease the dramatic hair chop than pointing out the why of it all. I’m still bitter that NBC recently ruined a MAJOR plot point in a press release, so this is adding to my spoiler frustration. Take a hint from Mad Men, vague is good – ok maybe not too much of a hint.

The flimsy excuse for sharing (asbestos) is perfectly fine with me, especially as Felicity and Meghan are back together again and for all the angst (which I also noticed has been increased) at least we have this comedic pairing. Meghan brings me so much joy, even when she’s being a jerk and openly discussing Felicity’s sex life in front of all the advisees. At least she sees the error of her ways and apologizes for that major dick move. Meghan’s styling is as wonderful as ever including nude shimmery lipstick and an endless supply of animal prints. I have more on Meghan, but first all of the other living arrangements.

While it comes across as contrived, considering how Elena reacted to Noel post-Hannah, I’m down with this living arrangement as they bounce really well off each other. They didn’t get a whole lot to do with each other in S1, but they did have a notable conversation when Elena almost quit over financial issues. I also don’t think there will be anything vaguely romantic here and I’m always happy to see platonic lady/dude friendships and I think they will be good for each other.

Now as you mention it gets complicated when you factor in Felicity and Elena’s BFFdom and it’s so unbelievably awkward when Elena leaves the two of them to chat in the apartment. And it goes so, so bad. Noel’s hurt and this is the first time he’s spoken to Felicity since she didn’t go to Berlin and he pretty much says all the worst things – he’s mean in a gross vulgar way and it’s very un-Noel. After dealing this low blow he then tells her he never wants to see her again and even though he knows this won’t be the case, he wishes it were true. I’m guessing Felicity won’t be hanging around there anytime soon. It escalates to a whole new level later when they go to the same bar and I didn’t realise you could say dick on the WB, I’m not sure why but I thought it was a relatively new insult network TV could use. This is awkward scene number two, but I want to talk about Julie’s new living arrangement first.

Moving in with Ben and Sean has bad news written all over it, I mean she did pretty much live there last year but under very different circumstances. It also makes it clear that Julie has very few friends which makes me sad. What Felicity did was not a good friendship move and yet I find myself siding with Felicity (if I had to pick one). Of course this could be down to the fact that this is her story, but as we talked about a lot last year the Felicity/Julie pairing was always lacking something. While I find Sean’s friend zoning to be rather icky, they at least have a friendship spark that started with the fruit selling during finals.

Considering they couldn’t keep the living arrangement the same as last year, this seems like the most organic way to deal with that. It’s also a good way to increase conflict and build on new relationships. Oh and it’s very cool to have both Amanda Foreman and Greg Grunberg in the opening credits. The dynamics are different and it’s definitely unsettling and kind of exciting. The first two episodes back have to deal with so much relationship dramaz that it does bog it down a tad and it’s having address such a life changing decision for Felicity in terms of her relationships so some of the momentum gets lost. Did Felicity chose well? Both between Noel and Ben, coupled with what happens at the end of episode 2?

Felicity 2.01 Meghan

Julie: There has to be a happy medium between spoilery promos (I’m assuming you’re talking about Hannibal? I heard some things) and what Mad Men does. And it’s just silly that the Felicity boxed set would give away the cliffhanger from Season 1 like that. Actions have consequences, blurb writers.

Because I had seen on Twitter that you were peeved about what you read on the back of the DVDs, I purposefully didn’t look at the wording. Since I kind of don’t remember much about Season 2, I didn’t want anything to be “spoiled” for me, as well.

I’m completely with you that I love the Elena/Noel friendship dynamic. I do wonder, however, if Elena rooming with Felicity’s ex (without consulting her first?) wasn’t a little rude of her, but I do get that Elena and Noel are friends and that she’s the type of girl who looks out for #1. I can respect that. Also, she and Noel have a great rapport. Remember when they went to the Halloween party dressed as Subway employees? And then she met Blair? We hate that guy.

I also want to point out (since we’ve talked about the evolving friendships on this show) that at the start of freshman year, these characters became friends due to convenience and proximity. Julie and Felicity got together because they happened to sit next to each other in class. Noel and Felicity hooked up because they lived on the same floor. Now, as everyone on the show is growing and maturing, they’re starting to pair up with their actual best matches. Julie hanging out with Felicity and Elena never really made sense to me. Julie hanging out with a guy like Sean, who totally worships her and will do whatever she asks, totally makes sense. At least from Julie’s perspective.

And, of course, I’m completely on board with Amanda Foreman’s elevation to regular cast member. Felicity is such a wet blanket sometimes. She’s always so serious and trying to do the right thing, she needs someone like Meghan around to instigate her. Because they are such good foils and because Meghan ended last season revealing how impressed she was with Felicity sticking it out in New York, I think there’s potential there for a very interesting, very fun friendship. And that’s something this show definitely needs — more fun! What was college if not fun?

For that reason, I think Felicity made the right decisions all around, regarding Ben and Noel. She owed it to herself (and the girl who moved cross country because of a crush) to see if things could happen with Ben. She also knew that going to Berlin with Noel would be a pretty serious relationship step that could set her up as “Noel’s girlfriend” for the next several years. As much as I think she liked Noel, I don’t think she was ready for anything serious. Just like Ben is not ready for anything serious, so her dumping him at the end of the second episode felt right. I’m so glad she was the one who did the dumping.

What did you think about her reasons for ditching Ben, that she wasn’t being herself around him? Along the same lines, how did you feel about the man-grabbing advice in that one girl’s magazine? Would putting blush on one’s nipples really make a big difference in the grand scheme of things?

Felicity 2.02 red dress

Emma: The happy medium between over and under sharing in blurbs is a tricky one to navigate and The CW are the experts on this one, they some how reveal so much without revealing anything at all. So I just went to read the rest of the back of the box as I thought I was safe, guess again as it spills more plot details that haven’t happened yet. When will I learn?!

The proximity thing is definitely a factor and I can say from my own experience that moving out of a dorm meant that there were people that I never spoke to again. Luckily it wasn’t because I’d broken one of their hearts.

Meghan is the ray of light these two episodes need – which is probably ironic considering her love of all things dark – she’s the voice of reason Felicity needs to hear when she starts to over analyze everything. Which she does a lot. I also adore the conversation about Felicity’s tape vs Meghan’s box and I’m sorry, Felicity, but yours does sound kinda lame.

I’m with you on the Felicity choice, narratively and for her character it made sense. If she had chosen Noel, I think it would have been very difficult for anything Ben and Felicity to happen. She’s already had coupledom with Noel and yes it’s the safe, sensible choice. Ben is THE guy after all and even though I was Team Noel last year, my position has shifted. Actually my position is now the same as Felicity’s and that is choosing singledom. She didn’t date in high school and she’s far too young to be tied down; road trip adventures and super cute selfies on photos you have to get processed (I loved waiting to pick photos up and seeing how great/terrible they were, this is something that had definitely been lost with digital) are fine, declarations of love less so.

Now while I think Sean is terrible at advice (my notes once again state NEVER LISTEN TO SEAN) and he plants the seed of doubt in Ben’s head about how serious it is, in the long term this is probably better. As we saw last season Ben is really susceptible to other people’s influence and if he’s going to get dissuaded this easily, then now is definitely not the right time for this to happen.

Ben listening to her Dear Sally tape prompted some yelling at the screen, as this is akin to reading her journal and really Felicity didn’t get as mad enough at this invasion of privacy as I would hope. Ben feels bad, but the damage is done. Now to the magazine (the made up ‘Girl World’ – this sounds like a tween publication) and I think this goes to highlight that no matter how self assured you come across, no one is safe from the suggestibility of these magazine advice columns. We have all probably been a Gretchen or a Ben at one time or another. We might roll our eyes at the super dumb suggestions (like blush on nipples) and yet we might try some of them out as Felicity does and justify it by claiming we would have done that anyway. Felicity does look smoking hot in her very on point (then and now) red slip dress. I can’t think of a specific example and it pains me to admit it but I’m sure I’ve read a dumb magazine article like this and maybe applied it to my life. Have you ever followed a magazine advice column?

To Gretchen, Felicity is the wise and experienced RA and yet Felicity is new to all of this and she doesn’t have a whole lot of advice options – Meghan can only last a minute, Julie is no longer her friend, Sally is on the other end of a tape making service and while she still has Elena, Elena’s new housing arrangement puts a kink in things and she’s now helping Noel out with his romance issues.

I’m glad Felicity didn’t stick with the adjustments she was making to accommodate Ben as it’s not a good sign if you’re having to alter your entire behavior. Yes comprise is essential to making a relationship work, but not when you’re compromising yourself this much to make something work.

Now that Felicity is single, do you think the super awkward encounters are going to increase or simmer down? What did you think of the Noel’s attitude/reactions to seeing Ben and Felicity together both at the party and in the season premiere at the bar?

Felicity 2.01 Elena Julie: That’s such a good point about how dire Felicity’s friendship options are right now. She’s very much alone, even more alone than she was back at the beginning of freshman year. It’s going to be hard for her to mend fences with Noel and Julie. She basically can never go back to the loft again (except it’s TV, so we know she’s going to eventually have to go back to the loft again). And Elena is great, but kind of caught up in her own stuff/living with Noel. This is the time where Felicity really needs to start branching out into new endeavors.

I definitely remember reading and following some relationship advice stuff from magazines, especially back in high school. None of it ever worked for me, so I don’t put a lot of faith in these kinds of articles. And, yeah, while it did seem to work for Felicity for the time being (and she should definitely continue to dress smoking hot just for herself, because it was totally working for her), how long would she have been able to keep that up with Ben?

As far as Noel’s behavior at the bar, I loved it. Snarky, pissed off, funny Scott Foley is my favorite Scott Foley. We recently saw this on Scandal when he complained about the contents of Olivia Pope’s refrigerator. I hope he continues to be “exactly the amount of dick he needs to be,” both on Felicity and on that Shonda Rhimes show.

Let’s see. What else haven’t we discussed…Oh! Javier’s back! Welcome back to America, Javier. And how cute/silly was Michael Pena as one of Felicity’s freshman advisees? And where was Richard Coad? We need Richard Coad.

Felicity 2.01 NoelEmma: I noticed that both Felicity and Noel are generally being more assertive in these first two episodes back, whereas Ben is resorting to his passive ways. Felicity does briefly lose this assertive quality when she goes back to Ben, but generally she’s saying what she thinks and she’s not shying away. Ben leaves when things get super awkward at the bar and while I think it’s not the best choice Felicity has made, by staying she’s confronting things head on.

Noel’s anger masks his confidence issues that we see Elena coaching him on and he’s been through enough with Felicity that it’s not surprising that he has no issue speaking his mind with her. Forming coherent sentences with other women is an issue, and I properly laughed out loud as Elena role played using Gwyneth Paltrow as the suggestion. Not because she isn’t hot, but just because of how much we both appreciate GOOP.

Javier’s return made me very happy indeed and I love that he’s pro Noel. I also can’t wait to see how he reacts to Felicity’s haircut as I’m sure he will have Opinions. Speaking of which, surely D&D is going to get super awkward now they’ve split, different shifts ahoy.

Yep, Michael Pena is adorable, if not a little too attentive; and while Felicity shouldn’t have used him, he probably needed it so he would back off. Not sure that’s going to happen. Gretchen broke my heart, partly because he sexy outfit looked like a whole load of nipples rather than flowers and ooph her attempts to walk in crazy high heels (which I thought she’d borrowed from Meghan) was so tragic, especially when she ended up dumped.

One relationship update I was glad to hear about was Elena losing the good doctor, it’s just a shame that he did the dumping (and over the phone, showing the zero class he possess). It does provide a nice bonding moment with Noel.

Yeah where is Richard?

Couple of other things, first Felicity’s khaki Capri pants gave me SO many flashbacks to my wardrobe (including this photo I recently put on Instagram of khaki green pants that got ripped and I then fashioned into cropped ones instead). While I wore a lot of halter tops, I didn’t have any like Felicity’s knitted number – love that even her summer wear is made from wool – there’s a sexy twist as she’s not wearing a bra with it. And yes the smoking hot dress can stay. Oh and I spotted Felicity’s iBook, ensuring she will never have to go I Noel for Photoshop ever again. She totally got it in the same color as Noel’s. Another late 90s reference is the discussion about whether they should go watch Blair Witch Project. Any thoughts on the late summer wear?I’m pretty sure Julie needs to set her top collection on fire.

Oh and the photo Ben moons over is a Felicity selfie, long before the term entered everyday discussion – did we even have a name for those kinds of photos back then? All I know is that arms always looked super long or you’d get super squashed up faces, normally half cut off.

Felicity 2.01Julie: Again, I think this all reflects back to Ben’s social chameleon personality. He can’t handle the conflict. I think he genuinely likes Felicity and wants to be with her, but he’s so susceptible to other people’s opinions, he automatically balks when Sean tells him that’s what he should be doing (Never listen to Sean’s advice!). The only way things will ever work between Felicity and Ben is if he figures out who he really is and what he really wants.

Your black and white photograph reminded me that I wanted to talk more about the photograph thing. I just cleaned out a drawer in our house and I found about a million old pictures from high school and college. As much as I love the convenience of being able to take decent photos on my phone, I do miss the surprise of having film developed, and I miss the hard copies of the pictures. (I found a ton of black and white ones as well, that I know were supposed to be “artistic.” They’re mostly just hilarious.)

Felicity was a tad too braless for my taste, maybe that’s just me talking as a fairly well-endowed lady. This episode was from late summer of ’99, and I had a favorite halter top at the time — it was red and from J. Crew, I think. Most of my wardrobe was from J. Crew back then.

Felicity was so ahead of the curve with her selfie-taking. Also, her tapes to Sally are basically podcasts. I’m trying to picture how Felicity would be, social media-wise, in 2014. I’d bet she’d be one of those girls who are simply too busy for Facebook and Twitter. Maybe she’d have a Tumblr dedicated to knitwear or something.

And yay for the Goop reference! She was fresh off her Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love at this point, and was probably preparing to do press for Talented Mr. Ripley (which I keep meaning to watch again, but keep forgetting to do so). Everything was coming up Goop, which should come as no surprise.

5 Responses to “TV Rewind: Felicity, “Sophomoric” and “The List””

  1. Ariona Barnsdale April 18, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    Reblogged this on The Muses Guild:ANDRASTE.


  1. TV Rewind: Felicity, “Felicity Interrupted” & “Back to the Future” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - June 18, 2015

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    […] watch Felicity when it first aired, but this show has been the focus of our TV Rewind series and discussion posts that started two years ago on This Was TV. There was definitely a yelp of happiness when this […]

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    […] The trickle of film celebrations has turned into a stream and this is a bumper Look of the Week. Fabulous frocks, ladysuits and stunning December issues celebrating the good things about this year. Yes, there are some good things among the garbage.  At the 21st annual Hollywood Awards, Zoe Kazan’s Gucci botanical frock is a delight. I can see Kazan in a lot of the new Gucci pieces and this is right in my style wheelhouse. Also to file under outfits that I adore; the ladysuit! Noomi Rapace mixes a lace cami with menswear inspiration and not only picks a great color suit, but doubles down with her pumps.And for an entirely different take on the ladysuit. Kate Mara’s metallic Burberry number is giving futuristic retro vibes.I can’t see a slip dress and not think about the ’90s. Throw a white baby doll tee under it/cardigan over it with Cons for that season 1 Felicity vibe and then heat things up without one a la Felicity in the season 2 premiere. […]

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