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TV Rewind: Felicity, “Your Money or Your Wife” & “Miss Conception”

5 Feb

Felicity, Episodes 4.3 & 4.4
“Your Money or Your Wife” & “Miss Conception”
Original Air Dates: Oct. 24 & 31, 2001

Felicity 4.04 cowboyEmma: So the Ben and Felicity break up lasts all of five seconds as they get back together at the start of the first of our double bill. Ben thinks breaking up is crazy and of course he does because he has no idea what happened between Felicity and Noel on the roof. Felicity doesn’t tell him either and agrees about getting back together. I have to wonder how long it is going to be before Ben finds out because there is no way this one is going to remain a secret. For starters there are more people that know about it now and that automatically opens up the potential for secret spillage. Felicity tells Javier and it makes sense that the person she confides in is the person who is on the most outside of the group. Yes Ben is his employee but he doesn’t live with any of them and that is why he is ideal. Elena finds out in the second episode and she infers what has taken place thanks to both Noel and Felicity’s reactions to the maybe being pregnant thing and not telling Ben. But before we jump to that classic teen episode trope I want to talk about the relationship stuff from “Your Money or Your Wife.”

Ben is still pursuing his new dream of being a doctor and he is struggling with one of his tough classes. It doesn’t help that Henry from Ugly Betty is Ben’s lab partner and a total bro about everything. Ben manages to crack down and he really is applying himself (aside from making one or two stupidly loud comments about the teacher). He wants to do it by himself, but he also understands he might need help and when he is about to ask Elena he overhears her talking to Felicity about Ben is likely to be a six-weeker. Felicity to her credit disagrees with her friend and this doesn’t even feel like a ‘I have to say this because he is my boyfriend’ thing and I was really expecting Felicity to agree with Elena. I guess what they are doing here is not putting any obstacles or negativity in the way of Felicity and Ben so when the truth comes out it is all the more devastating. The new more applied Ben is working for me and one thing that Scott Speedman delivers in both these episodes (and particularly the second one) is amazing facial reactions. No one does a dopey smile quite like him. And I am also enjoying the style direction with Ben this season – more hoodies and plaid shirts please. Also I don’t think we saw Ben two strapping before he started pre-med and I like this little touch to show he probably has enough books in his bag to warrant using both straps. My Team Ben feelings are strong right now.

So Felicity is still fretting about what happened with Noel and how she can’t get what happened out of her head and well that is totally understandable. Plus she has financial issues on top of the relationship dramaz and I’m impressed she doesn’t spiral in a major way. The money situation and lack of tuition funds is something that could have had a quick fix like either calling her father and apologizing or taking Noel’s money as a loan, but she doesn’t want to do either of these things and while it would be the easy route I’m glad she said no to Noel’s offer. In part I think it is because they slept together, but also because it has become about doing it by herself. Money issues don’t always come up on TV shows or if they do it is part of a sensational storyline and you rarely see a character dealing with something that is probably relatively common for a college student. Money or lack of was always a thing when I was at university and while I never had to enter a pageant as a potential source for tuition I did live in my overdraft and have money worries on a regular basis.

Felicity isn’t the only one with money related woes and it is a theme that runs throughout both episodes, what did you make of this direction and do you care anymore about what is going on with Sean and Meghan?

Felicity 4.04 Meghan Julie: In some ways, the money stuff feels somewhat too-little/too-late, especially in Sean’s case. How does he manage to live? Has he actually sold any patents or products? It’s a little like Friends in that way. We all know how much it costs to live in a nice Manhattan apartment, so how are these kids managing it, especially when you see that Sean really comes from a background not far from how he’s living now.

And Felicity. This whole situation is kind of ridiculous. She’s begging for scholarships during the fall, when most of them are probably gone. There’s no government aid left. She could get a private loan, but she’d need someone to co-sign (I don’t know why she doesn’t call her mom about this. Or ask Javier. Or Noel for that matter, now that he’s got so much coin. Not sure if any of these folks are viable co-signing options. I’m not a banker).

Anyway, she winds up paying $35 to scour a book full of scholarship possibilities, and the only one available is the beauty pageant. This storyline is simply all kinds of ridiculous. A) That the timing would be so perfect and B) that Felicity would even entertain this as a real option. It’s basically an excuse to get Keri Russell in a fancy dress and big hair.

The way this pageant ties into her relationship with Ben is that it doesn’t. She doesn’t tell him about it until basically the last possible moment. He’s living his life over here in medical land and she’s signing up for pageants. I know you mentioned that they’re not setting up many obstacles for their relationship at this point, but the two of them are living separate lives. She’s hiding a huge secret from him. She’s telling Noel she’s possibly pregnant before she tells Ben. And he’s kind of too focused on his own stuff to notice that Felicity is floundering.

I have concerns for where all of this is going.

I know I kind of jumped into the second episode here a little bit, but these are really good companion stories. They feed right into each other and are linked by the pageant and by Sean and Meghan’s parent-woes.

What did you think of the pageant and why wasn’t Richard the MC?

Felicity 4.04 big hairEmma: Oh yeah the Sean financial stuff is so tacked on and because they’ve always been really vague about his family other than he doesn’t go home for Thanksgiving. Sean has to a certain extent been a bit of a device rather than a fully formed character. He’s the comic relief, the goofy friend and his relationship with Meghan has mostly been a back and forth of ugh. Now he has parents and a brother – Greg Grunberg’s real brother I think – and a family he is embarrassed by. Meghan is from money and it turns out that she revealed her true self a couple of years ago hence why we don’t see her ditch her usual clothes for something more prim.

And now after a quickie wedding and an awkward family dinner they’re threatening to cut her off which just feels like a way to create another thing to get between Sean and Meghan. I like that Meghan ultimately chooses love over money but I still find this constant back and forth to be rather tiring and I don’t think it serves either character. Also Ben and Noel are way too chill about Sean’s finances considering if Sean gets kicked out so do they. Okay Noel has all that money but Ben tends to be financially strapped a lot of the time.

You’re right about Felicity’s situation being kind of ridiculous so while they do seem like real issues it does have the TV spin with throwing the lead out of their comfort zone. I’m just glad she didn’t win (other than for evening wear – the dress looked good on her) as that would have been far too easy and even less likely because she really didn’t overly sell herself as a pageant queen.

I think because I have got used to seeing Keri Russell in different wig/costumes on a weekly basis thanks to The Americans this just made me think of that and how it’s a shame she never turned up on Alias as a spy pal of Sydney’s. The cowboy dancing getup was A+ early ’00s and why didn’t we get to see her talent? Her dancing around the apartment last season now makes sense after seeing her dancing around her room (awkwardly interrupted by Noel).

In the time Felicity was at the pageant she not only got a new bestie, but also a new nemesis. Girl works quick. While I don’t think we will ever see Sarah again I liked how quickly she bonded with Felicity showing that not everyone is a mean girl at these things (though I wonder how accurate that is). All of this pageant stuff definitely made me want to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous again.

What did you make of Felicity’s explanation about why she didn’t want to invite Ben? The whole high school comparison and how Ben was the most popular would seem like a legitimate concern if everything else wasn’t going on. At this point she thinks she might be pregnant (WHAT?!) and maybe Noel’s the dad (DOUBLE WHAT?!) and I also think she is just a bit embarrassed. Everything is rather fraught and this second episode was extra tense thanks to the maybe baby revelation. So while I’m on that subject what did you think about this pregnancy scare?

And yeah where was Richard? He is another who knows about Felicity and Noel (not that he knows specifics).

Felicity 4.04 new bffJulie: Maybe Felicity will ditch her art major for DANCE!

And, yeah, why didn’t we get to see her talent? Or her swimsuit moment? Did she go with stringy over the strapless one piece? Don’t tease us with a beauty pageant and then give us nothing, show. The only drama came from her and her new friend putting muscle cream in that evil girl’s bikini. The new friend didn’t even get back-stabby or jealous. I thought that’s where the show was going with Javier’s warning. I wanted more hair pulling and more drama!

Felicity’s concern about Ben as Mr. Popular seems misplaced. They’ve been together for so long by now and have gotten to know each other so intimately, I can’t believe Felicity really has these thoughts. I think it’s more about her being embarrassed, as well as the fact that the two of them do seem to be growing apart (Noel sexing aside). Things are not all well and good in Ben and Felicity’s relationship.

Ugh with the pregnancy scare. This may be a possible spoiler, but I don’t know. I thought it was going to be Meghan who gets knocked up. I don’t know if this actually happens on Felicity, or if I’m combining pregnant Amanda Foreman on Alias with every other teen show trope ever, but I seem to remember something about Sean slipping one past the goalie because they used one of his defective wedding condoms. I suppose there’s still time for that story, but it seems like a LOT of unwanted pregnancy for one show, what with Ruby and now Felicity.

I kind of wish the show did have the balls to let Felicity be pregnant (though, again, that’s a lot of unwanted pregnancy). It would’ve been the worst possible thing that could happen to Felicity at the worst possible time and would’ve really complicated things with the potential fathers, regardless of whose baby the kid was. I’m imagining an abortion storyline where Noel wants her to have one, but Ben wants her to keep the baby and Felicity wondering if she stays with Ben and goes along with it, what if the kid comes out with Noel’s nose?

But that’s just spitballing.

What was your take on the pregnancy scare? And how about what everyone else was up to — Noel’s new job, Elena’s…sweatshirt?

Felicity 4.04 Ben shocked faceEmma: So we’ve been talking about how this show has been good at dealing with sexual health storylines so it’s a tad disappointing that they cycle back to one of the most obvious and in a way this feels like a punishment for Felicity’s cheating. No she’s not actually pregnant – I inured the test was a false positive as I figured I would have heard about it if she has an abortion because it’s so rare for a show to go through with it now – but the whole thing made me super stomach churny as I kept thinking Noel was going to crack and tell Ben.

Back when Noel and Ben barely spoke they bonded over unwanted pregnancy stories when Noel first thought Ruby’s baby was his and she was going to have an abortion. This is when Ben shared a story I probably shouldn’t find as funny as I did (and still do) when he went snowboarding instead of going to the clinic. Oh, Ben. His face when he saw the piece of paper from the doctor followed by the relief when Felicity told him she got her period makes me think he definitely doesn’t want a kid at the moment, even if it is Felicity’s so I wonder if the scenario would have been the other way with Noel wanting her to go through with it instead after how he fucked up with Ruby. But now we will never know.

TV does love to do the getting pregnant that one time you sleep with that person (ahem Mad Men) or don’t use protection so it wouldn’t surprise me if we had another case of the babies before the end of the show.

Speaking of spoilers did you see Broad City this week? I am hoping that was just a gag and nothing bad is going to happen to Elena because I will get as mad as Ilana did. Also show please give Elena something to do beyond moping halfheartedly, helping Ben with his labs and popping in to give Felicity concerned face. And while I really didn’t like Molly it is weird they haven’t mentioned her at all. Is it just Elena and Felicity living in their very spacious apartment now?

As we guessed Noel has got a job at the university and it’s one he is woefully under qualified to do except he was an RA and knows how to read a university manual. This loops back into both Ben and Felicity as the first student he sees is Ben and he’s going to help him drop the classes he forgot to do before the deadline and then Ben decides to spill about the Felicity situation. Noel is already caught up on this and when they started playing basketball together all I could do was mutter “oh no” at the screen multiple times as I feared Noel would break. The only thing a Ben guessed was that Felicity had told Noel first and he couldn’t understand why. Oh, Benjamin.

Speaking of the things I said out loud while watching the second episode – when the doctor mentioned bringing her boyfriend along next time I maybe yelled PRESUMPTUOUS at the screen as that is far too much judgment at a moment like this. Bad doctor.

Noel has found Felicity a TA position which she is reluctant to take for obvious reasons and Noel mentions how it’s just down the hall from him, which for some reason made me think of their S1 set up. Is this going to bring them closer together?

Felicity 4.04 NoelJulie: The pregnancy scare definitely feels like a recycle after the Ruby pregnancy and the morning after pill thing. It even recycles the “Ben and Noel talk about knocked up girlfriends on the basketball court” canard. That sums up my feelings about Felicity so far this season. Everything feels like a retread (parent issues, Elena and Tracy breaking up again, Meghan and Sean having problems, etc.), which sucks because this is only the fourth season. The writers should be able to find new situations to mine, especially when most of their characters are facing imminent college graduation.

I did see the Broad City spoiler. NO COMMENT.

I do have to say, despite his weirdness over the inheritance money (JUST TAKE IT!!!), Noel has been acquitting himself well so far this season. He’s playing the Felicity/Ben thing just right, and when Ben finally finds out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be at Noel’s hand. Team Noel, even if he doesn’t end up with Felicity. He has redeemed himself. Tyra, just like Molly, has been forgotten.

That doctor was presumptuous, but so was Sean’s dad in asking Mr. Rotundi to invest in his company at the brunch table. Ugh. That made me cringe. It makes me cringe when Sean does it too, but even Sean knows not to badger the in-laws at breakfast.

The Felicity/Noel job stuff is hilarious and ridiculous. Noel is now a “guidance counselor” after Tom from Cougar Town hands him a job, with no instruction whatsoever. But Noel was an RA, so he’s prepared for anything.

I’m not sure why it’s so problematic for Felicity and Noel to be in the same vicinity. He lives with her boyfriend. He’s constantly showing up at her apartment (I guess it’s to help Elena with her computer, but whatever). They seem to be getting along well and I’m not sensing a lot of residual FEELINGS on either part. Maybe they just needed to bone once and get it out of their systems and now they can go back to being friends.

But here go hell come once Ben finds out about what happened.

Felicity 4.03 Felicity and ElenaEmma: I agree with you about Noel as they could have gone so wrong with him after this whole Felicity thing mirroring how he was at the end of last season. I think maybe they realized they took it too far last year with the whole Tyra stalking and pining after Felicity and this mature approach is much better. And yeah I don’t know why the proximity thing would be so bad as neither of them have been too lusty at this point.

One pairing that did come across as feeling fresh in a season of retreads is Elena and Ben as they’ve never had a crazy amount of stuff to do with each other despite their closeness to Felicity. I wonder if when it all comes out Elena will end up being there for Ben even though she is definitely better friends with Noel. And then maybe Elena can have something to do. Oh and now I’m really worried for Elena after that Broad City episode – a big week for Felicity references on comedy shows as Craig mentioned Keri Russell’s hair on Parks and Rec too.

From what I have briefly read about the final season it was initially intended to be the final year, but really it makes sense for this to have been a four season show and as you mentioned they are recycling a lot of storylines already.

And if I had to guess Ben is going to find out in our next batch of episodes as I can’t see it being strung out for much longer and I will definitely be pulling my best Home Alone face when he does as I have a feeling it will be in a very public setting much like the email of topless Felicity.

One more thing that I forgot to mention – so yes most of Sean’s ideas are not good at all but the Before/After restaurant is something I could see working especially with Brooklyn not being the super hip location it is now. Get in there earlier Sean!

Julie: I think I completely missed that idea. Make it happen, Sean!

Also, I loved how awkward Scott Foley looked while chewing that pen cap.

Emma: Yes! He is so good at physical comedy. More of that please Shonda!

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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