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'Felicity' nostalgia recap: Sex on fire

Season 1 | Episode 11 | “Gimme an O!” | Aired Jan 19, 1999

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about Felicity … and Ben and Noel and Julie. Things are heating up and getting physical among this incestuous little group of undergrads. But who’s hooking up and whose affair is going up in flames?

Ben and Julie, for one, are hooking up. As Ben spoke to Felicity on the phone at the end of “Finally,” Julie was curled up in bed beside him. There’s a rather short list of reasons why they can’t tell Felicity; which is why Ben didn’t say, “Oh, hey. By the way, Julie’s over.” We all know the news would have sent her down a rabbit hole of over-analyzation. And that would have been terrible timing now that she’s dead set on having sex with Noel.

Upon reuniting with him after winter break, Felicity almost immediately declares that they will be dancing the mattress mambo. The mere prospect of having sex causes Noel drop the computer monitor he had been holding, the perfect metaphor for his internal celebration. He asks for logistics, such as the where and when, but Felicity’s chiefly concerned with making sure he’s been tested and pouring over scores of sex guides to make sure she gets the O, the whole O, and nothing but the O.

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

Of course, when it gets down to the brass tacks of scheduling said sexual encounter, Felicity whips out her day planner to find a time to get it on. Felicity Porter: Sex Scheduler. They settle on a date and time, though Felicity has to negotiate a shift swap with Javier. Next on the agenda is procuring contraception.

Here’s where Felicity taps into its after-school-special sensibilities, fully accepting the responsibility to provide impressionable ’90s youth with a bit of sex-ed. Felicity visits the campus health center to obtain the pill and some complimentary condoms, all the while dropping some knowledge about the limitations of the pill and demonstrating proper condom application. Say what you will about the hit-you-in-the-face scene, but Felicity spearheaded a generation of making it cool and normal to educate oneself about safe sex.

Armed with know-how and all the necessary materials, Felicity’s ready for her date with Noel. She eagerly tells Julie her big news, leading Julie to keep her own news about Ben under wraps. Even though she’s leaving her toothbrush at his place (much to Sean’s rage) and snowshoeing with him in Vermont, she chickens out when it comes time to be honest with her best friend.

She knows exactly what would happen: She’d tell Felicity that she and Ben are “hanging out,” and Felicity would get all in her head about it and put her v-card right back in her wallet. In a sense, Julie is being considerate by letting Felicity have her moment, but keeping her blissfully unaware of inevitable emotional torment only prolongs the situation and makes it worse.

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

Julie consults Noel (of all people!) about being between a rock and hard place. She divulges the dirty deets to Noel: Sleeps over every night. They don’t have sex. They went to Vermont together. From this whole encounter, I think we can all learn that Noel shouldn’t be trusted with sensitive information pertaining to the romantic entanglements of his girlfriend’s best friend and on-again/off-again crush. But we’ll get to that disaster after the literal fire Noel and Felicity start with their full-steam-ahead sexcapades.

Like a bat out of hell, a bull in a China shop, all the worn similes for attacking your surroundings with unwarranted energy, Felicity throws herself at Noel. No sooner than she erupted into his room, their clothes are off and they’re on the highway to O-town. (No, that’s not a reference to Orlando or the middling ’00s boy band.) Students walk into Noel’s room, thanks to the hastily unlocked door. Once again, a computer is dropped, and a rogue spark ignites the Christmas tree Noel confiscated from an advisee in flames. Suddenly, “sex on fire” has a whole new meaning.

Following the dorm-room forest fire, Felicity’s turned off from ever trying to have sex again. When your first attempt evacuated an entire building, former fears of pregnancy and STDs are really nothing in comparison. Still, Noel insists they ride again (pun unintended, but let’s go with it). He decides to take the reigns, opting for a romantic hotel getaway rather than an impulsive pummeling.

Meanwhile, Ben and Julie fight fires of their own, fires of the low-boiling, sexually tense variety. He reads her poetry, and it’s obviously the cutest damn thing, okay? For a moment, all the #TeamBen ‘shippers sail on over to the Ben and Julie ship because of this very scene. But let’s not get into that now. Felicity’s about to make a phone call that keeps her firmly planted in virgin territory.

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

The WB/Hulu/screengrab

You’d think Felicity had never been in a hotel room the way she ravages the minibar like she’s Kevin McCallister. She calls Julie from the bathroom telephone, effectively interrupting any kisses that might have transpired between her and Ben. Julie acts noticeably cagey on the phone, tiptoeing around what she’s hiding from Felicity. Felicity pushes, but Julie won’t budge.

Back in the hotel room, Felicity can’t focus as Noel tries to make moves. After some persistence, Noel admits that he talked with Julie and spills everything about Ben. An argument arises about Felicity’s alleged obsession with Ben and Noel’s fragile jealousy. It’s when he tells her Ben took Julie to Vermont that Felicity wears her disappointment like a brazen statement accessory. Talk about a mood killer.

Noel sulks to the sweet, sweet sounds of “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. (ah, to be heartbroken in the ’90s …), but leave it to Elena to hit him over the head with some truth: “You’re obsessed with the idea that she’s obsessed.” And he is. He has to push aside his pride to realize that Felicity won’t let her crush crush her chance at something real. I mean, the foursome end up sharing a meal together. Look how far we’ve come.

NOTES FROM THE TAPE RECORDER:

  • Elena gets a gift from Blair and she just does not know what to do with it. First, she thinks the blue elastic band is a skirt. She squeezes into it, proud to be sporting Blair’s gift. Come to find out, it’s a headband. It could be worse, Elena. It could be worse.
  • Ben and Noel have such a weird dynamic, right? Seeing them share a scene together is uncomfortable because their discomfort is palpable to the extreme. It’s funny, without Felicity and the other characters that circulate through the group, they wouldn’t have a connection.
  • Felicity and Noel have officially labeled their relationship. Will Ben and Julie soon follow suit?

All four seasons of Felicity are available to stream on Hulu Plus.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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