By Julie Hammerle and Emma Fraser
Felicity Season 1, Episode 11: “Gimme an O!” Original airdate: Jan. 19, 1999
Julie: Well, first of all, let’s get the important stuff out of the way: The blue thing Blair gave Elena looked much better as a skirt than as a headband. That thing was simply too large on her head. And she was, as Noel stated, pulling off the micro mini skirt.
As far as the rest of the episode went, “Gimme an O!” was all about Felicity trying to lose her virginity. She came back from winter break in Palo Alto determined to give her flower to Noel, even though they still hadn’t “officially” defined their relationship. Noel, of course, was completely on board with this plan, so much so that he dropped his brand new iMac in the process.
This episode showed Felicity at her most Felicity-esque. Of course Felicity can’t just have sex with someone. She’s too big a goober for all that. First she needs to make a scheduled appointment for the sex, then she needs to have her partner tested for HIV, then she needs to get birth control and lingerie and sex books. I loved her comment that she wasn’t going to be embarrassed by this. It felt so much like a young, pragmatic girl trying to be a grownup. It’s Felicity doing what she thinks should be done, and I loved it. It was also a great way to drive home the (very ’90s) safe sex message in a way that felt organic to the show and the character. The scene with her in the book store was fantastic, and I loved how the title of the episode was the same as the title of the book Felicity decides to buy (which is also Meghan’s favorite book from 8th grade). I looked it up. There is no “Gimme an O!” sex book, but there is a novel with that title. I may have to read it…for research. What did you think of Felicity’s sex quest?
Emma: So our first Felicity of 2014 and it’s another fantastic episode – as you said on Twitter they really have hit their stride at this point – and it’s another one that deals with an ‘issue’ without making it feel like an ISSUE. You’re right about the headband/scarf situation as she really did pull it off as a skirt and I love that Elena is really confident with most aspects of her life, except when it comes to dating. Despite Elena’s lack of dating experience she does deliver some much needed advice as he is in an “Everybody Hurts” funk – is this the ’90s TV version of “Fix You” by Coldplay? A question I might have already posed when they used it on My So-Called Life. It really is unattractive and unnecessary, Noel. And he totally is obsessed with the idea that Felicity is obsessed. I’ve jumped ahead to the consequences part of the episode so I’m going to go back to Felicity and how they go from a sex schedule to the sadness music. While there are some similarities between a college show and a high school show portraying the protagonist deciding it’s time to have sex (and “Gimme an O!” reminds me of Friday Night Light‘s “I Think We Should Have Sex”), the age/maturity factor also comes into play.
As it’s college it’s not surprising that lots of people are either having sex or have had it, it’s also not that strange that some people haven’t but at this point Felicity doesn’t want it to be a big deal, she just wants it over with in a way. So yeah she goes about it in a super pragmatic way and I too love that she’s not going to get embarrassed by this. The only problem is that she doesn’t factor in feelings and no matter if you’re at college or high school or wherever, some feelings do come into play. Especially if you are part of a love triangle. Or love square as it is at the moment. And it does end up with some embarrassing moments as when Felicity decides to go for it a Christmas tree gets set on fire and Noel’s new iMac gets dropped again by the dudes who walk in on them – they’re building a good group of random people who live in the dorm so it actually feels like more than just four people live on this hall. The safe sex stuff is great, as is the getting tested and once again it didn’t feel like a PSA or like we’re getting bashed over the head with this information. As with aspects like drinking (which these characters have been doing casually so far, ok Felicity did hurl in Noel’s lap on Halloween), a college show can be a bit more free and loose with the consequences, whereas a high school show might be concerned with having a bigger responsibility. So the sex in Noel’s room didn’t work out so well, instead he books a hotel where things should go uninterrupted but Noel didn’t bank on there being a toilet phone – TV shows love pointing out when a bathroom has a phone. A call to Julie was enough for him to spill the Julie/Ben hanging out tale that Julie had come to him with and this put an end to the hotel fun times. Do you think Noel overreacted?
Julie: About Elena and her sex advice, do you think she’s blustering a bit about her sexual prowess? Like you said, she’s confident in so many areas of her life, except dating. I don’t know if I believe that she’s as skilled in bed as she’d like Felicity to believe. First of all, her “be the ball” advice was all kinds of vague. And then when Felicity said something about how Elena and Blair’s sex life must be amazing, Elena kind of said nothing. She gives off the impression of being knowledgable about everything, but I think she might be in over her head in the boning department.
She did give Noel decent advice, though, so there’s that. And she definitely should have added that singing along to REM while close to tears is not a good look for him. The whole “I guess I should just have sex now” thing is a really prominent trope when it comes to college-set shows and books. I read one recently where that was the whole crux of the book and then (spoiler) the girl ends up kind of waiting and has sex with the perfect guy, who is (of course) hot and British, and they fall in love and (barf) get engaged. I like that Felicity takes this topic seriously, but not so seriously that it gets preachy about waiting for the perfect person and the perfect circumstances. She and Noel realize that now is not the time for them. A week, a month, tomorrow might be the right time for them, but with all the big emotions flying around, it’s a good idea for everyone to just take a step back.
Michael Stipe singing aside, Noel is quickly becoming the MVP of this show. He is the romantic guy. He’s the comic relief. He’s everything you need him to be. The iMac and the Christmas tree played out perfectly, as did his bulging eyes at the prospect of sexing up the cute girl from down the hall. I love that they’re continuing his frenemy-ship with Ben, because the two of them do make a good team. I think Noel overreached by getting a hotel room. The whole time I was wondering how much did that sucker cost? Hotel rooms in New York are not cheap, especially for a guy who just charged a bunch of money for a (now busted) iMac. I do not, however, think he overreacted after Felicity found out about Julie and Ben. She was disappointed. And I do think that in the back of her mind there was the thought that having sex with Noel would be safe and good and this would help her get better at it for when she eventually does it with Ben. And that is not fair to Noel. Like he said, her face told the story. What did you think of Julie’s velvet hat with the flower on it?
Emma: The hat is so perfectly ’90s and other than plaid, velvet is the quintessential material for this decade. Getting a hotel room was a bit of grand gesture too far and yeah considering how broke Noel says he is this definitely flashing the cash – maybe his uncle left him some inheritance (or something like that). I loved how dorky they both are in the hotel with the mini bar, I haven’t stayed in a lot of hotels so I still get that novelty factor, not that I’ve ever opened up the mini bar. I do think Noel is obsessing about the Ben factor but he did have to listen to Felicity wax lyrical about him for months so his insecurity isn’t unwarranted and her face did show signs of disappointment. I think this is in part because of her crush, I mean she’s been into him forever so even when you’ve moved on there are pangs. I also think she’s disappointed that Julie felt like she couldn’t tell her about this development. Julie is the closest female friend Felicity has had (sorry, Sally) and yet they’ve had this push/pull because of Ben. The conversation between Julie and Felicity about sex was rather sweet and it makes sense for Felicity to be wary about broaching this subject after Zach. It’s also good to see a show not drop a big storyline like this when it’s convenient. I’m really impressed with how this show is dealing with sex from all angles (phrasing); it can be awkward, wonderful, terrifying, scarring. It’s not just one thing like that YA book makes it sound like.
You could be right about Elena as she’s good at projecting confidence and when it comes to sex, especially at high school and college it’s all about acting like you’ve got it all figured out. No one likes to look like a novice. Scott Foley really is terrific and he really lights up the screen; while I like Ben, I’m firmly in the Noel camp right now. And I’m so into the whole Ben/Noel relationship dynamic. I wonder how long this cozy foursome will last. I’m guessing not very. What did you think about the Julie and Ben set up?
Julie: I wore so much velvet and velour back in the day, it was ridiculous. I was basically George Costanza. I do really feel for Felicity in this episode. She obviously likes Noel and she’s trying to move on from Ben, but now her best friend is shacking up with him…without even running it by her first. That’s not cool. I’m willing to give Julie a bit of a pass after everything she’s gone through, but she knew what she was doing was not exactly right. Otherwise she would’ve told Felicity right from the start. That said, I like Ben and Julie together. They work a lot better together than Felicity and Ben would. They’re more on the same level. Felicity needs to get a little more experience under her belt before she’d work with Ben. Maybe that really was what she was trying to do with Noel. What do you think about BenJulie?
Emma: So I rewatched Felicity again today and Noel does mention that he put the iMac on his credit card. Bad Noel. I maxed out 4 credit cards at college – they all had low limits but still I learnt a lesson in finances the hard way. Noel also has the color iMac that I dreamed of getting. There are SO many hats in this episode, I mean it’s January in New York so that makes sense and I love the variety. Felicity’s knitted one is the most like what I wore, sadly I didn’t have a whole lot of velvet in my life. Also coats and those previously mentioned big jumpers. I noticed that Felicity has the same color turtleneck in both short and long sleeves, she’s got all of the turtleneck wearing covered. I really like Ben and Julie, he was clearly very into her at the start of the season and he’s been a true gentleman throughout the post Zach hangout time. He’s not trying to pressure her, instead he’s there for late night chats and trips to Vermont. The scene on her bed where they are studying is the most adorable as he declares his love for Walt Whitman and there’s definitely a connection that goes beyond a physical attraction. When it comes to Felicity’s version of Ben it’s kind of this larger than life projection and he’ll never live up this, at this point anything with Felicity would just be too much and while I don’t think Felicity is subconsciously using Noel as a dress rehearsal, her first boyfriend shouldn’t be the guy she’s be endlessly obsessing over.
When Felicity mentions that she met his dad and comments that seemed nice, this came across as an odd remark considering Ben has mentioned his difficult relationship with his dad to Felicity. Was this just a bad attempt at small talk? I think another reason why Ben and Julie work is because he doesn’t have to be the guy he was back home to Julie; he’s shared more about his father to Julie and there’s an ease between them. Julie mentions to Felicity that she told her parents about what happened with Zach when she went home – did she even go home or was she in New York/Vermont the entire time? I don’t know why she would construct this part of the story and so I’m guessing she did go back for some of the break. There’s a couple of things I want to mention about Felicity and her sex quest that stood out to me today, sorry I’m skipping back. The part of the tape to Sally where she mentions how everyone is having sex gave me serious My So-Called Life flashbacks in the episode where Jordan is an ass when she doesn’t want to sleep with him. In a voiceover Angela talks about how people have sex “That sex was this thing that people had.” Now I want a mashup of Felicity recording messages with Angela voiceovers. Make it happen internet.
Unlike Jordan, Noel realises that Felicity isn’t ready and while he jokes that he can’t believe he talked her out of sleeping with him, he knows it’s the right thing. It’s also why he told her about Julie and Ben rather than pretending that he didn’t know anything. Noel’s a keeper and it’s adorable when she announces that he is her first boyfriend. All the awwwwws. Also hilarious is Felicity’s trip to health services and her story about scooping ice cream which gets more and more manic and she continues. It’s made all the more awkward by the practice penis that sitting on the table to try out condoms on. The box of condoms instantly made me think of Anchorman 2 and moments like this are pretty much always awkward. Once again I’m super jealous of the fancy pill dispensers you guys get (something I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago after an episode of The Carrie Diaries), all we have is the fool packet. What did you think of Javier in this episode? Also Noel, the front of a queue in a busy coffee shop might not be the best time to talk about the sex you might be having soon?
Julie: So true about Felicity mentioning Ben’s dad. She doesn’t get him at all, does she? Even more reason why Ben and Felicity should not be together…at least not at this point. I thought that was weird as well about Julie and her parents. Considering everything she’s been keeping from Felicity, I wouldn’t be surprised if she concocted that story as well. You brought up MSCL, and it’s interesting to look at Felicity and focus on the female friendships as well. Like I said before, before watching that show, I always thought of MSCL as being strictly about the Angela/Jordan relationship. But it’s so much more than that. Felicity is the same deal. We always hear about the Ben/Noel/Felicity love triangle, but the friend stuff is just as compelling. Julie is the first friend she made in college, maybe ever, and I don’t know if they’re all that good for each other. And speaking of friendship, I’m loving Javier and how he doesn’t condone premarital sex. He (and a few of the other characters), eventually become more and more important to Felicity, and she starts to need Julie less and less (if I remember correctly). It will be interesting to watch these relationships progress on the show. Do you have anything to add?
Emma:With most teen shows the romance angle is the thing that tends to get immortalized and as you said about MSCL this is the image for the outside. The love triangle aspect of Felicity combined with the whole hair shenanigans is the only image I had of this show prior to watching and I’m so glad that all these other friendship aspects exist. For a show to sustain you need to have a wider group of connections. Javier might be opposed to premarital sex but he’ll help Felicity out. With high school it tends to be people you have at least been aware of for forever, but college is a completely different ball game. It’s all new, well except for Felicity and Ben. The female friendship stuff is what interests me too, especially with a character like Felicity who hasn’t been close with anyone her own age before. Oh and I think a Twitter account that followed me has spoiled who she ends up with, all the sighs. I’m going to pretend I didn’t see it though and carry on like nothing has happened. I don’t think I have anything else to add except I’m very impressed with how this first season is panning out so far.