Thursday, 26 January 2017

I Love Felicity, Here's Why You Should Too...

Felicity is a very rare type of television character who does not come along very often. 

She is the type of character audiences can not only see themselves in, but would also want to be friends with in real life. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a friend like Felicity. Felicity aired for four seasons on The WB from 1998-2002. The network became known in the late 90s for its teen dramas like Felicity, Dawson’s Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Throughout the show’s four season run, Felicity Porter forever put her friend’s well being before her own. The relatability factor of the character is astounding, even her impulsive and controversial decisions which we ourselves are sometimes guilty of. Felicity follows the story of a high school graduate who changes her college plans and moves across the country from Palo Alto, California to New York City be close to the guy she is drawn to albeit has yet to have a proper conversation with. 

At first glance, the plot of this teen drama gave me stalker tease, but as the series unfolds and the layers of Felicity’s character are unveiled, it soon became clear Felicity is the type of person more people ought to be. Sometimes we should take the wrong choice or make the wrong decision and see what happens next. Felicity’s life has been planned out for her since she was a little girl. In the pilot episode, we see Felicity’s parents travel to New York to try and get their daughter back on track. A common theme throughout the show is Felicity’s parents being unable to understand their daughter’s decisions. Her father had planned for her to follow in his footsteps and go to medical school to become a doctor at Stanford. But everything changes when Felicity asks her high school crush, the brooding and handsome Ben Covington to sign her yearbook. She discovers he will be attending the fictional UoNY (University of New York) which is where Felicity decides to attend to pursue Ben. Felicity is smart, gifted and charismatic and no one in their right mind would change their life plan in order to pursue someone they have yet to have a proper conversation with. However, not only does this decision lead to the cascade of events in the series; it is the first inclination of who Felicity is and what she represents. Taking control of one’s destiny. Pursuing Ben is not the only major plot line in the series. 

The show deals heavily with destiny but not even Felicity could have imagined being caught up in a love triangle with her high school crush and Noel, the RA in her University Dorm who admits, fairly quickly, that he has feelings for Felicity. This love triangle, which in many ways resembles the classic teen love triangles we have seen in movies and melodramas, is a primary focus of the series however, the love between these characters is approached with a certain touch of sincerity and sensitivity which makes us fall in love with Felicity, Noel and Ben as we watch them try to come to terms with University life and their love lives. Poignant moments in the lives of the characters are conveyed through the high quality of the scripts, the sincerity in the character’s speech, the subtle tone and even the warm lighting gives the show a sense of maturity and seriousness which is only usually seen in film, not in a WB teen primetime drama. Each scene is like a delicately planned painting in which each shot, each camera angle, each close-up and fade creates an even greater passionate impact. It may come as a surprise the show was co-created and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, the director behind the new incarnations of Star Trek and Star Wars. How did Abrams, the man who is now known for his high-concept and big budget blockbusters manage to create such a refined, graceful and grounded world around young people engulfed by their emotions?

Whilst at University Felicity makes a number of friends who all have a great impact on her life. Her roommate for the first two years is Meghan Rotundi, a goth wiccan whose anti-social and abrasive behaviour contrasts Felicity’s cool, calm and collected demeanour. She is also a goth wiccan witch (like the girls in the The Craft) and occasionally steals Felicity’s stuff, including strands of her hair, in order to casts spells. Meghan becomes even more prominent in later seasons when she and Felicity become good friends. The development of her character is possibly one of the best I have seen in a show of this kind because it seems so natural. Meghan’s abrasiveness is slowly replaced with snarky sarcasm and her anti-socialness is revealed to be a veil to hide her insecurities. But, the best thing about the development of Meghan is that, she always remains somewhat true to the character we fall in love with at the start of the series. She is a wiccan witch until the very end. Felicity also becomes friends with Julie Emrick (played by Amy Jo Johnson THE ORIGINAL PINK POWER RANGER!!!!!) The two gals have a difficult relationship, almost on the verge of being frenemies as they both fall for Ben. Julie’s decisions regarding her relationship with Ben are just as impulsive as Felicity’s but due to the series revolving around the latter, Julie’s actions sometimes come across a bit bitchy. Elena starts off as Felicity’s competitor as they both strive to be the top of the class but they soon realise they are similar than different. Felicity also has some quite surprising friendships with Sean, an unemployed graduate who spends his time trying to produce a killer invention, and the most strange of all, Javier, her boss at the coffee house Dean & DeLuca.

The series explores numerous themes ranging from sex, relationships, rape, pregnancy, death and illness all with maturity and honesty. In the “Drawing the Line” episodes, Julie is assaulted by her date and decides not to report the incident. She is urged by Felicity to contact authorities. Furthermore, what makes this storyline so poignant is her attacker is caught off-guard by the allegations but, when he is removed from university, the impact of his actions soon become clear to him. Felicity deals with complex themes which have been addressed in television before but the way the characters are written with such authenticity and honesty transforms these storylines from being seen merely as a way to increase viewership for mid-season sweeps, to being a natural exploration into the things some students are unfortunate to experience whilst at university. One of my favourite storylines from the show involves Elena visiting her father in “Thanksgiving” and confronting him for not visiting her or contacting her. We soon realise the reason why her father has become so distant is because he is intimidated by her which I am sure is a feeling felt by many parents whose achievements in life may seem to not match up to their children’s.

Felicity is a heart-warming teen drama which addresses the lives of its protagonists with maturity and sincerity whilst also maintaining an eternal sense of youth and exploration. All the characters in the show are the types of people you would want to be friends with at university, especially Felicity, and this is largely due to the show’s accuracy and dedication to conveying the lives of young people coming to terms with adulthood and for Felicity herself, love, relationships and taking control of one’s destiny. 

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