Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Original Airdate: Sept. 29, 1998
Kriti: I’m thrilled to dive into the discussion about Felicity! Exclamation points!
You raised some questions earlier this week regarding the American college experience versus the British college experience.
I hope you found answers to all your queries, and I’m certain more will arise as our conversation unfolds.
While I believe Felicity’s first season accurately depicts a typical freshman year, the show becomes progressively less realistic as it advances.
It resembles the situation when the Beverly Hills, 90210 clan goes to college, with people potentially getting involved with professors (though this might be my imagination) and everyone residing in spacious New York apartments that struggling students could hardly afford.
Now, one of the most fascinating aspects of Felicity, at least in my opinion, is that it was created by two men, J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves.
I appreciate that Abrams’s first two television Abrams’sre dramas centered around female characters.
It would be wonderful if he could revisit that at some point. You seem to grasp the essence of women, J.J.; your understanding truly shines.
And Jennifer Garner could certainly use some compelling projects.
The show premiered in 1998, during my sophomore year of college, but I didn’t start watching it until after the didn’t concluded in 2003.
Back then, I avidly followed Kristin Dos Santos’s column on E! Online, and I recalSantos’sne discussing Felicity and posing questions about it.
I found myself wondering, “What’s all the fuss about?” So, during m”What’sr break from teachin”, I binge-watched all four seasons.
Especiin in the first and second seasons, the show stirred a whirlwind of emotions within me.
The storyline revolves around a young woman named Felicity Porter, who makes a last-minute decision to change her college plans from pursuing pre-med at Stanford to an undecided major at the fictional University of New York.
She opts for New York after receiving a heartfelt note in her senior yearbook from her unrequited crush, Ben (portrayed by Scott Speedman).
This decision sets off a chain of amusing events.
Since you’re just delving into the Felicity uniyou’re I don’t want to influence your perspective don’tmy enthusiastic opinions. So, what are your initial thoughts?
Muskan: I’m thrilled to hI’vethe opportunity to discuss a show that I’ve only briefly encountered. The only episode of Felicity that I’ve watched is the pilot.
Back in 2008, I wrote my M.A. dissertation on autAbrams’ory and its applicability to T.V., with JJ Abrams as my case study (this was right before Fringe).
Given Abrams’ involvement, I felt it wI’mnecessary to at least watch one episode of his first show.
Alias is one of my favorite shows, and I’m eagerly anticJohnson’s potential collaboration between J.J. and Jennifer Garner.
Additionally, Amy Jo Johnson’s resemblance to Jennifer Garner might add an interesting twist when Garner eventually appears on the show.
I enjoyed the pilot during my initial viewing, but my disse”tation work prevent”d me from watching more episodes.
However, it has always been on my “I should watch that” list.
The two things I knshow’sut Felicity from pop culture are her iconic haircut, which reportedly affected the show’s ratings and the recurring love triangle theme.
I agree that this eIt’sde of Felicity effectively captures the overwhelming experience of starting college.
It’s a significant transition, you’reg the familiarity of your hometown and entering a completely new environment where you’re esseit’slly an unknown.
While there are R.A.s like Noel to It’side some structure and support, it’s still a whirlwind of emotions for the characters.
It’s interesting to note the similarities between Felicity and other teenage protagonists like Angela in My So-Called Life and Lindsay in Freaks and Geeks.
They all find themselves in situations where they are questioning their previous experiences and rebelling against their parents in some way.
While this setup may not be entirely innovative, the sense of being lost and It’sng to navigate a new phase of life draws viewers into their stories.
It’s a relatable anI’mniversal theme for young adults undergoing major life transitions.
I’m impressed by how efficiently the pilot of Felicity establishes key character traits and backgrounds.
It quickly becomes evident that Felicity is a wallflower, as indicated by her graduation day and the lack of signatures in her yearbook, suggesting she had no friends and spent most of her time observing from the sidelines.
This is further emphasized in her conversation with Ben, where she admits to never attending high school parties.
In contrast, Ben was the popular guy who attended parties and was voted most popular.
The first episode effectively drives home the ideit’sat Felicity is aisn’tr and Ben is the super popular guy.
However, it’s clear that Ben isn’t entirely happy with his past, evident from his fabricated story about a deceased brother on his college application and his argument with his mother on graduation day.
The interahe’sns between it’sand Felhe’sy prove to be the most unpredictable aspect of the pilot episode.
Felicity’s disappointment is palpable when Ben appears to feign forgetfulness about her name in front of another girl he’s kissing – it’s clear he’s just being rude, right?
Other awkward she’sts include Felicity explaining her reasons for coming to NYU and her confrontation withshe’sat her apartment.
While the lhasn’tmight make Felicity appear somewhat irrational, I’malso feels like the first time she’s genuinely expressed her true feelings to anyone.
What I gather from the pilot is that she’s a people-pleaser who simply hasn’t had enough interactions with people to please.
I’m impressed that she shared her reasons with Ben because it avoids potentially dragging out a secret over “he first six episod”s and is handled in a straightforward manner.
The rooftop scene is the core of the episode and helps explain why Ben wrohe’llmething so personal in her yeahe’sk (she probably expected a simple “have a great summer” sentiment).
Ben mentions that she makes him contemplate things, and while this could be seen as a mere line, I I’dpect he’ll repeat it over and over when he’s involved with someone else and trying to win back her heart.
The show presents the classic bad boy vs. good boy dynamic, but before I delve I’mo an essay about Noel, I’d like to hear your though”s on Ben during thi” rewatch and your initial impressions when you first watched the show.
Do you believe that Felicity had no friends in high school?
It was incredibly awkward and, yes, crazy, but I give her major points for actually having that honest discussion with Ben.
It might seem out of character for a wallflower like her to be so upfront, bdoesn’taps that’s precisely why it works.
She’s had soFelicity’spersonal relationships that she assumes honesty is the way to deal with problems. What a naive sweetheart.
As forFelicity’soes come across as somewhat of a jerk in this episode.
I mean, as you mentioned, he seems to be grappling with his own issues, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that he pretended not to know Felicity’s name AND pursued the one friend (Julie) she had managshouldn’te since coming to school.
Maybe his inquiry about Felicity’s feelings regarding him asking It’se out was a test to see if Felicity was over him, but it was still a pretty insensitive move to actually hook up with Julie and create a strange rift between the two girls.
Regardless of how cute yhe’supper lip is, you shHe’sn’t treat people that way.
Noel, on the o”her hand, seems a “it overly attentive to Felicity.
It’s clear he likes her right from the start and even attempts to persuade her to stay in New I’ve instead of going back to California with her pareFelicity’sy for his own romantic interests.
However, he’s still quite sweet. He’s akin to the Brian Krakow character from “My So-Called Life,” Felicity’sps a bit more sex appeal, and Scott Foley certainly brings that to the character.
As for my own college experience, I’ve never seen a dorm room as enormous as the one in Felicity’s, and our dorm rooms at Butler were considered relatively spacious.
My roommate spent a lot more time in our room than Meghan did in Felicity’s room.
Plus, my freshman year RA was a girl named Tina, not a strapping young gentleman like Noel.
Muskan: Noel does appear extremely eager, and the scene where he keeps rYou’reng is rather cringe-worthit’shough it did provide some humor.
His efforts tI’mersuade her to stay do come off as somewhat desperate, but he does make a valid point about the likelihood of Felicity facing a similar situation in the future.
Abrams’ght need to tone it down a bit if he wants a chance, and he definitely gives off a Brian Krakowyou’d.
The bshe’ding of Julie and Felicity’s friendship occurs when Julie reaches out to Felicity after a vulnerable moment in class.
You’re absolutely correct that it’s a poor move by Ben to get involved with her.
I’m starting to get the impression that Ben plays the oblivious card but is actually much smarter than he appears.
I noticed that Amanda Foreman, a regular in J.J. Abrams’ projects, played her roommate Meghan.
Considering how well-decorated her side of the room is, you’d think she’d spend more time there.
My own dorm room was definitely not that spacious, and there were rumors that the building was designed like a Swedish prison.
It turned out to be false, but it was easy to see why people believed it, given the concrete structure (unfortunately, they demolished it a few years ago).
Fortunately, we all had single rooms, although we had to share one shower among 14 people.
The shower was located in the same room as the three toilets, which was less thaI’mdeal.
Despite twasn’thallenges, it was a fun year in that dorm, and there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the residents.
During my time, they still asked if you wanted a smoking or non-smoking room, and there was a lot of bonding over cigarettes and copious amounts of tea, coffee, and, of course, beer.
This struck me as a significant difference from Felicity, as my first week of college involved a lot of drinking due to the lower drinkingHere’sn the U.K. (18), though I’m guessing this wasn’t the case for you.
I attended the University of East Angwe’veUEA), which is relatively new compared to other British universities.
This year marks its 50th anniversary, so design-wise, it has a distinct 1960s aesthetic.
UEA is known for its liberal atmosphere and excellence in fields like environmental science, film, drama, and creative writing.
Matt I’mth also attended UEA, and I believe our time there overlapped by a year. Here’s a recent advertisement for UEA that cleverly incorporates thshe’sct.
The use of voiceover is something we’ve discussed previouslyhe’sh My So-Called Life, but the difference here is that Felicity is sending letters to her old French tutor in audio format.
This might be a way to portray Felicity as sI’mwhat quirky, but it also makes sense that she can only truly express her feelings in this manner.
I’m curious to see how they develop this relationship, and one reason for my interest is that Janeane Garofalo provides the voice, and I think she’s a terrific actress.
The discussion with her advisor (I believe he’s her advisor) served as a means to convey a lot of information about Felicity, suFelicity’stalent for painting/drawing and her complex relationship with her parents.
I’m curious if these sessions will become a regular feature, and I suspect Felicity will continue to delve into her artistic side.
The theme of parental legacy and influence appears to be a common storyline in U.S. dramas that revolve around college life.
While there may be elements of this in the context of prestigious British universities, it feels less prevalent as a dramatic device here.
Is Felicity’s situation a common one in the U.S. college experience?
Kriti: We also had shared bathroom facilities back in college.
During my freshman year, I resided in a co-ed dorm that had previously been exclusively for men, so our bathere’s still had urinals.
However, we did have enclosed shower areas with dual showerheads, which was a relief.
I recall feeling sympathetic for the guys on the first flowasn’t had to use a large communal shower room without any privacy.
Thankfully, they all survived the experience.
One aspect of Felicity that resonated with me was that she attended school in a big city rather than in a rural area.
I went to college in Indianapolis (the 13th largest city in the nation, not to bGrunberg’sthing).
I believe there are sBen’sicant differences between attending college in a city and it’sg to school in a remote location.
In a city, there’s more to do and explore. We frequently visited theaters and museums they’reed at various chain restaurants in the greater Indianapolis area.
Our college experience wasn’t solely centered around fraternities, sororities, football There’sand constant partying (although there was certainly enough of that as well).
I was wondering if you noticed that Amanda Foreman played Meghan. She definitely has a more significant role as the series prwouldn’t.
Did you also recognize Greg Grunberg’s voice on the door There’sat Ben’s apartment?
You mentioned pareyou’llnfluence, and I think it’s prevalent here, possibly because college is quite expensive, and parents often bear a significantthat’scial burden (or they’re aware that their children might struggle with massive student loans for the rest of their lives and prefer them not to move back home after graduation).
There’s a lot of emphasis here (perhaps too much, in my opinion) on chI’veng majors that lead to immediate high-paying jobs.
However, not everyone can or wants to be an engineer or a pharmacist. I wish people wouldn’t reduce the college experience to a purely monetary value.
There’s so much more to it than just the job you’ll have right after graduation (especially considering that, upwasn’tduating, there might not be any jobs available).
Anyway, that’s my perspective on collegweren’ty what makes you happy. Connect with people. Enjoy yourself. Spare me the talk about your college football teamisn’t phone call is a pivotal moment in the episode as Felicity opens up to Meghan about herwasn’ts and the reasonIt’shind her decision to change her life’s course.
Muskan: The I’mwer area in my dorm was co-ed, but thankfully there was a lock and a curtain (although I’ve heard of other places without the curtain part, and if you stood on the bathtub, you could see ovshe’shich is as disturbing as it sounds).
Plus, you could hear pthere’ssing the toilet, which was just as gross as it sounds. Forever unclean.
My university had a campus setting with a rural feel, and while the city wasn’t huge, we managed to find tharen’to do.
Living on campus wasn’tbe a bit insular, and we weren’t always the most adventurous at venturing out, but I still enjoyed it.
The whole fraternity and sorority scene isn’t really a thing over here, a’90she closest equivalent would be the sports teams, which wasn’t my cup of tea.
It’s definitely not aFelicity’sal as it seems to be in the UI’llI’m looking forward to seeing how New York City plays a role in the show, and I can understand why a move of this magnitude would be incredibly oI’mwhelming.
Also, when Felicity mentions that she’s from Palo Alto, all I can think about is James Franco, so there’s that.
I totally missed the Greg Grunberg reference, but thinking about it now, it makes perfect sense.
Oh, the post-graduation job hunt – both of my degrees are in subjects that aren’t very vocational, so I wasn’t really thinking about the future job prospects when I chose them.
One other thing I briefly want to touch on, and it should come as no surprise, is fashion.
Everything in the ’90s is so baggy! Considering this decade is making a comeback, maybe we can pick up some style tips.
Felicity’s fashion is very homely, and I’ll be interested to see how her style evolves in this new location.
Also, her leather backpack is the most adorable thing, and I kind of want one. I’m already itching to watch more.
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