Welcome back to Stars Hollow, y’all. The "Gilmore Girls" reunion is officially happening.
As a millennial who graduated from high school in 2006, a girl who has always enjoyed relationship-oriented dramedies and female-driven media -- and, yes, a verbose little goody two-shoes nerd -- I should be chugging celebratory coffees and talking way too fast while sporting a baby tee. (Does that sound right?) But forget "Gilmore Girls," I say.
What we really need is a "Felicity" reunion.
Now, OK, I’m biased. Despite my aforementioned qualifications, I’ve simply never gotten into "Gilmore Girls." I’ve watched a few episodes here and there. I tried to binge it after its much-heralded arrival on Netflix, but -- how can I put this -- everything about it annoyed me. The Sorkinesque pace of the banter, Alexis Bledel’s monotone delivery and monoexpression face, Lorelai’s whole adorably-incompetent-parent schtick: it strikes me as artificial and sometimes unbearably saccharine.
In this era of dark comedies and twisted dramas, are we really ready for a jolt of early-aughts schmaltz?
But enough about "Gilmore Girls." I’m not properly qualified to say it’s not worth a reunion at all. I’m just saying: What about "Felicity"?
"Felicity" slightly predated my time, meaning the time when I realized I could watch TV if I just waited for my dad to go to bed rather than asking for permission. (That’s when I got really into "One Tree Hill," but let’s leave that story for another day.) "Felicity" drew to a close just as "Gilmore Girls" was beginning, and it focused on the vertiginous independence of going off to college where "GG" is more about the small-town comfort.
Like many great shows of the past two decades, "Felicity" has found new life online -- you can stream all four season on Hulu, which is where I found it. I was skeptical of the dreamy theme music, which seemed to have no lyrics whatsoever; and of the whole voiceover gimmick, in which Felicity narrates the events to her old French tutor, Sally, as a cassette tape recording she sends through the mail instead of a letter. But I was wrong.
Watching "Felicity" as an adult, the entire show seems beyond insane from the very beginning. Felicity herself, played by the winsome Keri Russell, chucks her plan to matriculate at Stanford to follow her high school crush, Ben (Scott Speedman) across the country to college in New York City. Without telling him! She manages to befriend him, despite this very suspicious behavior, then puts her job in the admissions office and this friendship at risk by improperly accessing and reading his application essay. He does not respond well to that! Meanwhile, Felicity’s adorable R.A., Noel (Scott Foley), has fallen for her, although she wears unflattering pants and has never gotten her eyebrows waxed. She gets together with Noel, then cheats on him in a fit of pique. She gets together with Ben, then cheats on him with Noel.
This is how the show unfolds: Felicity is our manic pixie dream heroine, stumbling from triumph to triumph yet consistently getting in her own way as only dumb kids can. It’s infuriating to watch, and yet, I found myself thinking, was I any better as a college student? Over the course of four years, I too went from wearing unflattering pants to cute dresses. I too did unexpected things to my hair. I too became embroiled in romantic dilemmas that, in retrospect, involved some very questionable behavior on my part. I too treated friends carelessly and with selfish entitlement (though they weren’t always as quick to forgive as Felicity’s loyal troupe of sidekicks).
In college, I, too, thought that my soulmate would be found within the limits of campus. I thought he was almost definitely the boy I was in love with that whole time. If I’d been watching "Felicity" in those years, I probably would have been a Ben girl, even though he thought pizza was better than poetry (as if you can’t enjoy both at the same time).
Felicity and Ben had lots of issues, like an inability to communicate about any meaningful issues, basically no common interests, and a tendency to be unfaithful to each other. Plus, they met in high school and got together via, basically, stalking. Yet, the show finished its original run with the main couple riding off into the Stanford sunset, happily ever after.
Not the most credible ending, but then show creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves managed to mess it up even more: When “Felicity” was unexpectedly picked up for five more episodes after the finale had already wrapped, they tacked on an arc in which a grief-stricken Felicity, mourning for her friend Elena who’s died in a car crash, catches Ben cheating. She flees back to New York for Noel’s wedding, then uses a time-travel spell to go back to senior year so she could pick Noel instead of Ben. Things do not go well. The whole plot is reminiscent of the classic horror story “The Monkey’s Paw” -- be careful what you wish for, because it will definitely create misery and death beyond your wildest imagining.
Worse, the arc doesn’t even make sense: After going back in time, her choices lead to Noel’s death, but when she comes back to the future, he’s fine -- it was just a dream, right? Except… Elena’s alive again? Felicity told her to go to a different medical school in the past, so she lived! But… THAT WAS JUST A DREAM.
Finally, Felicity simply forgives Ben for cheating on her during her moment of deepest need. What a happy ending, said no emotionally intelligent person ever.
This is a goddamn debacle.
Clearly, this is a show in dire need of a revival, for a few reasons.
- J.J. Abrams has some ‘splaining to do about that ridiculous time-travel arc.
- Keri Russell’s hair looks killer again.
- Can we just call a mulligan on that whole time-travel part?
- Everyone needs to know whether Felicity really became a doctor or whether she flaked out again.
- Felicity cannot be ended forever on that godawful time-travel episode. Just, no.
- Felicity was always a show about growing up and evolving into one’s own person, and yet we haven’t yet seen the protagonist evolve into an adult who can be without her high school crush.
- TWIST: Neither Ben nor Noel was really right for Felicity. Where’s that ending?
In conclusion: Bring back Felicity! And please do it right this time. Don’t even think about time travel.
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