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TV Rewind: Felicity, “Family Affairs” and “Portraits”

5 Jun

Felicity, Episodes 2.08 & 2.09
“Family Affairs” & “Portraits”
Original Air Dates: Nov. 21 & Dec. 19, 1999

Felicity 2.08 Felicity and NoelEmma: It’s Thanksgiving and Christmas on Felicity and the holiday season is bringing up some not so well-buried feelings between Noel and Felicity. The ghosts of holidays past turn up as a kissing memory turns into a kissing reality thanks to very strong punch and undeniable feelings. As you predicted, David is dunzo after four episodes; but what I didn’t expect was for it to be in such a public manner and in front of Felicity’s parents no less, not to mention Felicity and Noel’s drawing professor. Awkward.

So how did we get here? Well, it’s been clear that Noel and Felicity have been dancing around the friendship/flirtation thing and, as the eyelash moment from our last discussion indicates, these fires still burn deep even if they are both dating other people and are doing the friend thing. Ah yes, platonic love, and however much I was enjoying them as friends, this is TV and so of course romance is going to factor into it all. I’m torn in the same way I was with Danny and Mindy; they’re great as friends but they also have undeniable chemistry. Plus David is sweet, he’s also a tad boring and also wanting to take things WAY too fast. No wonder Felicity went to hide in what she thought was an unoccupied room.

Before I get into the whole Felicity and Noel of it all, let’s talk about David first and the conversation that doomed his relationship with Felicity. It’s meant to be this casual thing and so David’s constant surprise visits, coupled with his ‘falling in love with you’ remark is way more than Felicity was expecting or wants. It’s only been a month after all. As she later explains her first year at college was about these two guys and the serious relationships she had (or still has) with them. It’s too much, she never dated in high school and to bounce from one intense relationship to another is not what she’s after.

Felicity thought they were on the same page, but it’s clear they never have been, after all David is slightly older and his breakup pain is much more acute than Felicity’s. Felicity and Ben broke up because he couldn’t offer her what she wanted and now she thinks she is “the Ben.” On a surface level I guess she is, but that’s far too reductive and basically David wants something more serious because that’s where he is in his life (he’s 7 years older than her) and Felicity doesn’t want to be tied down. This also makes sense, though it’s bad timing and, eh, David was never going to be anything long term really. I just dread to think what his next dates are going to be like if his first one with Felicity is an indicator of how well he takes break ups.

Felicity’s overwhelmed feelings are compounded further as her parents surprise her with a trip to New York and David’s non-freaking out reactions at meeting them drives Felicity further away. It’s been a while since we last saw the Porters and I’m glad her mom is still very receptive to the path Felicity is taking. Her dad doesn’t flip out in the way I expected when he finds out she’s dropped pre-med and aside from the not so wonderful lunch in Felicity’s regular haunt (which by the way is not a pub, it’s just not).

And then the Noel thing happens. Before I go down that road I want to know what you think about Felicity’s reaction to David and the general set up of this year’s Thanksgiving episode.

Felicity 2.08 Dear SallyJulie: First of all, I can’t believe we’re already at the Thanksgiving and Christmas eps. That was fast.

The David thing played out really well, I think. At first I thought it was sort of a stretch that he’d be such a Stage 5 Clinger; but on a second look, it seems right. He, after all, was the one who came looking for her after she told him off on their first date. He was the one who offered to house her when the dorm was lousy with mono. He was the one who offered to take in her stray dog. Also, he’s older and he has been in serious relationships before. He was simply ready for something that Felicity was not.

I also loved the parents’ role in this. It felt so real and so cringy to me. That’s what parents do, right, when they meet their kids’ boyfriends and girlfriends, not to mention the parents of said boyfriends and girlfriends? They start trying to fit these new people into their lives. I guess there’s always that sense of, “This could be the person my kid marries. I’d better get on board.” And since David and Felicity had only been dating for a short time at this point, everything seems really early and really heightened.

The heightened emotions are not helped by David’s mom’s killer punch (which I tried to google, but couldn’t find it after searching for thirty seconds). Noel definitely gets drunk, everyone else gets a little tipsy, and he and Felicity end up “accidentally” kissing on his bed and are interrupted by David’s mom, who happens to be their art teacher.

I don’t remember what happens, but I hope Felicity and Noel kiss during every Thanksgiving episode, no matter what’s going on at the time.

Also, I’m loving the characterization in this episode. Meghan forgetting to order the food for her residents was great. (I loved the cut to the three guys sitting there in the darkness, starving.) I like that Elena, who has had to be the homemaker for much of her childhood, is a whiz at preparing a Thanksgiving meal. I like how Noel gets loopy every time he consumes something out of the ordinary. Good job writers!

So, what did you think of that kiss and the other kiss, the one between Ben and that skanky married lady he’s banging?

Felicity 2.08 Noel and MeghanEmma: Thanksgiving on Felicity is fun and messy with Noel and Felicity being at the center of these shenanigans. I’m with you on illicit smooches between the pair becoming a Thanksgiving tradition. While this one didn’t reach the frenzied making out heights of their bathroom smooch which was fueled by anger last year, I think it could have gone that way if they hadn’t been interrupted (minus the anger). I like that it directly came from this place of giggling remembrance from the previous year, plus it gives Meghan the dramaz she has been craving all evening. As with the beets, Meghan and Noel make a dynamic duo when one of them, ok Noel, is wasted. More of this please as it gets to show off Scott Foley’s wonderful comic timing. Scott Foley is also pretty damn good at performing awkwardly, as he does while entertaining the parents as Elena and Felicity at the store.

As this was so enjoyable I’m even going to forgive them for not even mentioning where Elena’s dad is after they made such a big deal of their fractured relationship during the last Thanksgiving episode. The Meghan being a terrible RA thing is wonderful, as is the mysterious reason behind her community service. Like with her box Meghan, is a huge enigma and I’m all for more random Meghan tidbits as we go along. I love how she does the fake parent thing so well as she’s been doing it for so long with her own parents.

Felicity’s mom is so adorable as she’s trying so hard with her daughter; as you said it’s cringy and so real. It just so happens that David really isn’t the long term dude for their daughter. I also love the joking around on the walk to the cab with her mom saying she wanted to hit Professor Sherman because of course. They make plans for breakfast and it’s the least stressful thing in the world, embarrassment over and I hope we don’t go this long before we see Felicity with her parents (and specifically her mom) again.

I have more to say on Felicity and Noel, but that’s more to do with the second episode so hey it’s time to talk about Ben and Teri Polo. So in a slightly contrived storyline – why would someone host a fancy benefit at D&D? Sorry, Javier – Ben ends up as a cater waiter at an event catered by Teri Polo and hosted by her husband. Awkward. It goes terribly because Teri Polo wants to smooch his face off in the back room while her husband is the least subtle flirter in the world. Guys, I think you should get a divorce. I feel a tad sorry for Polo, but hey it’s clear you’re relationship is doomed if your both fucking other people who are in the room. Julie does her best not to come across as too judgy and to her credit she isn’t, even when she sasses off a bit. She’s only looking out for Ben who really needs to stop making shitty decisions. Meanwhile Sean is still trying to pedal Smoothaise. As a mayonnaise hater every time he mentions it I gag a little. Stop it, Sean.

They end up eating Tofurkey, which sounds like they’re saying a bad word and their Thanksgiving dinner is very sweet. I just wish it wasn’t so separate to the other group on this show and the second episode we’ve watched this week also has this same issue.

What did you think of Ben and his relationship woes?

Felicity 2.08 Ben and SeanJulie: I loved everything about Scott Foley in these two episodes. It, again, makes me wish that he were better utilized on Scandal. I want more David Rosen/Jake Ballard shenanigans. Shonda needs to give those two comedic actors better stuff to work with.

I really loved how terrified he was of hanging with the parents on his own. It almost doesn’t make sense, seeing as he was an RA and probably the most adult of all the college students in Felicity’s world, but it works because of who the parents are — his professor and his ex-girlfriend’s mom and dad. And, yes, Felicity’s mom (and dad) were all kinds of great in this episode. I guess they found something to bond over — the fact that nobody liked how serious David was getting about Felicity.

The “soiree at Dean & Deluca on Thanksgiving” was crazy ridiculous. Or not. Maybe I’ll host my next black tie Christmas Day gala at the local Starbucks. But at least it got Julie and Sean out of the apartment?

I know they *want* me to feel bad for Teri Polo, but I’m just kind of annoyed with the whole “See? It’s okay that she was cheating on her asshole, cheater husband” thing. It felt a little too convenient and it makes Ben look like less of a dick for going along with it. Just let Ben be a dick. I thought Julie handled the situation perfectly, and was probably kicking herself for ever dating this moron (Ben) in the first place.

And Smoothaise needs to be killed. Mayo is disgusting, and this sounds worse. But Sean offering to spread some Smoothaise on the Tofurkey? Genius. Perfection.

Like you, I really want the two groups to reunite. I miss everybody being together. They’re running out of things for the Ben-Julie-Sean trifecta to do on their own. Ben spent the second episode working on a term paper for the wrong novel. Yawn. The Julie/Sean unrequited love story has run its course. Now Julie is dealing with skeevy record producers and I think the show is starting to recycle every storyline from 90210.

At least Noel and Felicity are doing interesting things. What did you think of their portraits? And which gift would you have wanted: The Palm Pilot, the sweater, or the hideous bracelet?

Felicity 2.09 RubyEmma: I’m so glad we share a hatred of mayo! Most people react with horror when I pull a barf face at the mention of this condiment.

The “Ben reads the wrong book” thing had me cracking up, but that was my general reaction to the second episode. Some of it was meant to be funny (like Ben’s bonehead mistake), other parts like the portraits less so (more on my aversion to TV art to come). I get why Julie got mad at Sean, but yeah that guy (I think he’s from one of the CSI’s) had skeeze written all over him so other than the fact that Sean’s motivations are maybe not that selfless I think he’s on the mark. Also it’s crazy how dated Julie’s conversation with the A&R dude sounds with talk of tapes. Even MySpace would sound out of touch now.

So yeah the Felicity/Noel angle is way more interesting, even if it’s sorta frustrating as they continue their thinking too much dance. This is their eternal problem as they have the odd impulsive moment of actual kisses and almost ones followed by so much talking that they end up right back where we started in this weird limbo. It’s why I was rooting for them as friends. However, I also just want them to do it already (actually my notes at one point are more blunt saying “just fuck already”). Do you feel the same the same frustration with Noel and Felicity?

Oh and when it comes to the gifts Palm Pilots weren’t a thing over here, I mean there were PDA’s but not that brand I don’t think, I’m glad to finally see what they are and also in my notes I refer to the bracelet as ugly (because it really is). So hit me up with the sweater, Noel. The three different gifts show his confused state when it comes to Ruby and she still hasn’t enamored herself to me. I think the writers are trying to make her likeable as she points out how she doesn’t like the “GQ guys” who hang out in her hotel lobby and that Noel means a lot to her, but, eh, I find it hard to care about her.

I know Felicity is her RA, but it’s a little weird that she still goes to her with Noel related dilemmas, I definitely want an episode where Ruby seeks out Meghan’s advice. Felicity is too nice to tell her the truth and while I think it’s good that Felicity doesn’t get involved romantically with Noel again she’s still circling around the same issues, it’s why I liked their platonic relationship. Complications can’t be avoided and conflict is paramount to drama, I dunno I just don’t want to go down the same path again. So far I do think Noel and Felicity are both being incredibly mature with how they are handling it.

What did you think of the Felicity and Noel of it all? Oh and what about the slightly goofy/trippy dream sequences?

Oh and here is a tease of why TV art generally makes me laugh hysterically, it’s from Dawson’s Creek and they pulled a reverse Titanic with Joey drawing a naked Jack.

Felicity 2.09 Julie and Sean

Julie: Also, regarding Julie: Can she learn a new song, please? It’s always the same one. But I do love the new wavy hair.

The A&R storyline really cracked me up. She sent out fliers to random offices? Snail mail? And then one of the dudes showed up? And we’re supposed to believe he’s on the up-and-up AND that Pop Rocks candy won’t sue him for using their name? I do kind of miss the innocence of those days, though. It’s so quaint how she’s “discovered” in a bar (Sorry, Felicity. A cafe). I basically want nothing to do with anything that began on YouTube or anywhere else on the internet.

“Just fuck already” could describe how I feel about many TV characters. I’ll probably start shouting that at the screen now. But, yeah. Felicity and Noel do think too much. They need some on-the-counter sex. Ben shouldn’t be the only one having on-the-counter sex.

I suppose they’re doing so much thinking because of their history and because there is an actual third person in the way, namely Ruby, our favorite. While I think Ben is a jerk for hooking up with Maggie while knowing about her husband, I wouldn’t feel the same way if Felicity and Noel did the deed. 1) Ruby sucks. 2) Ruby has been gone for, practically, months. 3) She and Noel were barely together before they left.

I do understand Noel’s reservations. He has built up this thing with Felicity to the point where it will never be as good as he envisions it in his head. We know that from his “Ha-ha! David had sex with Felicity” comment. He has put her on a pedestal. Also, Felicity is very inexperienced, but Noel is sort of as well. he was with his high school girlfriend for a long time. Then he had a chaste little relationship with Felicity before scoring a drunken hookup in Germany. Noel needs to play the field. More than that, I think he knows Felicity does too.

I still hope they kiss next Thanksgiving, though.

Since one of the three gifts was a sweater, do you think he subconsciously bought it for Felicity and not for Ruby? And way to be all, “I’d want the bracelet,” Felicity. Way to coerce Noel into giving that fugly shit to Ruby. That’s Meghan-level subversion.

Speaking of Meghan, Ruby should definitely start asking for her advice. In fact, I’d watch an entire show that was nothing but Meghan dispensing advice.

Oh my god, the dream sequences. I think the less said about those the better.

Barf on that Dawson’s art. The only good TV art I can think of happened on Seinfeld. Oh, and this.

OK, so what do you think will happen (or what would you like to see happen) during the spring semester of sophomore year?

Felicity 2.09 Noel and NoelEmma: Julie definitely had the angsty lady with guitar thing down and I totally agree with you about her hair as it looks really good – it does stray into the ‘Rachel’ while she’s cater waitering, but eh she suits it – less can be said about those chokers that she continues to wear.

I do worry that Noel and Felicity are never going to get past the conversation point of their sexual relationship and the pedestal thing is a concern. I don’t think either of them can get out of their own heads and it’s a shame because under the right circumstances they would be really great together. To invoke The Good Wife’s ‘bad timing’ Will and Alicia catchphrase, this is what they have and I’m intrigued going forward to see how they push beyond what could become repetitive or if they will get caught in a Noel/Felicity cycle. As the friend in the middle Elena is doing a really good job of offering advice while not getting too caught in the middle. This is where her blunt honesty comes in very handy. Plus I love her reaction to the near kiss she walked in on, she’s very much of a similar “just fuck already” mind I think.

Yeah that sweater was pure Felicity (official queen of sweaters) and nothing like whatever awful top Ruby was wearing when she opened the door — it looked like a scientific drawing of a womb and ovaries, which no.

The dream sequences were so awful and way to try and make it ‘sexy’ with Ruby wearing a bra in the bed sequence. So, so cheesy. Sopranos this isn’t.

Also are we done with the Sally replies? As I mentioned last season I love Janeane Garofalo, but Sally’s responses were so superfluous and lesson of the week like.

On the subject of art I love that Friends moment and my personal favorite is Jerry’s painting from Parks and Rec. I think it’s when someone is doing an art class that I can’t suppress the eye rolls and laughter. Every time they showed Felicity’s drawing of Noel (which was a lot) I had to pause the DVD as I was laughing so much, it’s not like it was a terrible drawing there is just something about it that I find very fun.

Oh and way to deliver the best bitchy response to Felicity’s gratitude Professor Sherman as she’s critiquing the art not the artist and Felicity kinda deserved that. It is her son that has been hurt after all.

So next semester I would like to see more unity between the two groups and we’ve barely seen Ben and Felicity converse since the break-up, which is pretty natural but hey who wants natural when there is drama to be had?! Oh and I’d like Elena to get her own storyline that doesn’t involve a skeezy professor, that would be appreciated. Keep up with the funny and less angst.

One other thing I did notice in the second episode is that both Noel and Felicity are wearing Tommy Hilfiger clothes – I love Felicity’s Tommy coat – and I wonder if this is a one episode thing or if there was a deal between the WB and this clothing line. It would make sense for the latter especially as at this time they had recently did a tie-in with The Faculty (I love this movie) and the commercial is pretty funny now.

What would you like to see happen when these characters return for their second semester?

Felicity 2.09 TH coatJulie: I IMDB-ed it, and it looks like Janeane Garofalo is out as Sally, except for one upcoming episode (the Twilight Zone ep, which we’ll talk about next time and about which I’m sure we’ll have lots to say).

As far as the next semester goes, we need to bring the group back together. I think all of the current pairings have run their course and it’s time to shake things up a bit. With a new semester come new classes, so hopefully Ben will wind up getting his education on with one or more of these people (I vote for Elena. I’d love to see Elena and Ben get a chance to interact. Also, it would give Elena something to do).

We’ve been very Team Noel during the first half of the season and it’s mostly because Ben and Felicity haven’t spent any time together, and all we’ve seen Ben do, basically, is dump Felicity and bone a married woman. Not exactly the stuff ships are built from.

Also, I want less Ruby, more Meghan, more Richard Coad (wherefore art thou, Richard Coad?), and less Sean mooning over Julie.

About The Faculty, I completely forgot about the existence of that movie. Before clicking the video, I assumed it was a CW/WB show that I had forgotten about. Now I just want to see a new CW drama about first year teachers in a troubled inner city high school. This has been my pitch.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

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