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'Felicity' nostalgia recap: Thank you for being a friend

Season 1 | Episode 12 | “Friends” | Aired Jan 26, 1999

Having put the trauma of starting a fire with her powers of seduction to bed, Felicity turns her attention to the fine art of friendship. Sure, her BFF skills have been tested before by Julie and the two boys that connect her love triangle, but nothing has prepared her for catching Elena’s boyfriend cheating.

While perusing the stacks — yes, the same secluded floor of the library that she and Noel used as their own private make-out den — Felicity’s sights are set on a book, but instead she finds Blair kissing a girl who isn’t Elena. She scurries out of there, utterly blown away by what she’s seen. (Somehow, though, she survives without the book she had needed.)

As she interprets it to Sally, Felicity comes to a thorough conclusion about humanhood: People’s lives are always happening right in front of you. It’s true. Whether it’s college, the workplace, or even the aisles of the grocery store, we’re always baring witness to the lives of others. But when you’re bearing witness to one of your best friends’ lives potentially being ruined, what do you do?

ABC/The WB/svreengrab

ABC/The WB/svreengrab

Despite Noel’s advice to the contrary, Felicity nearly drops the bomb on Elena — until the girl she caught Blair kissing joins them at lunch. Her name is Tara, and she’s Elena’s best friend. Who knew? Felicity sure didn’t, and it’s a case of the zipped-lips moving forward.

However, lips (especially Felicity’s) can only stay zipped for so long. She bumps into Blair in the mail room, and the floodgates open. She’s being weird, but in her defense, Blair persistently asks if they’re “cool.” When she confronts him with what she saw, he insists he wasn’t in the stacks and basically calls her out for mistaking him because of his race. You know what you did, Blair. Don’t make Felicity into something she’s not because you’re something you don’t want to be — a stone cold cheater.

Perhaps more than before, Felicity knows she needs to be frank with Elena. But after she sees the depths of Elena and Tara’s best-friendship up close, she shrinks back into her guilt. Later, Elena sternly asks to speak with Felicity, and like a child being called to the principal’s office, Felicity faces the other love triangle in turmoil.

All of the dirty laundry is aired, whipping in the wind like a paper-thin bedsheet on a clothesline. Blair admits to kissing Tara, but it was an accident, you see. Because she’s torn up about her break-up, he went for the cheek and — whoops! — got the lips unintentionally. Felicity downplays what she saw to appease Elena, later fessing the truth while they are studying. Brace yourselves.

ABC/The WB/screengrab

ABC/The WB/screengrab

In the midst of all of this, Julie flirts with the unequivocally distressing possibility of meeting her birth mother. She’s thought about searching for her for longer than she can remember, and a private investigator finally found her in New York City. Carol Anderson (Jane Kaczmarek) gave Julie up when she was 18 and in college, the same age that Julie is now as she holds Carol’s address in her hand. What will she do with it?

Ben carries all of the wariness for Julie. Wrapped up in the excitement and anxiety of meeting the woman who gave birth to her, Julie fails to see the red flags. It’s hard for her to hear words of caution, but Ben is being a friend, the overarching theme of the episode. Friends will be there to catch you when you fall, and they’ll also be there to save you before you slip on the metaphorical banana peel of life. He doesn’t want Carol to instantly reject her. Julie doesn’t want to give Carol a choice. Agree to disagree.

Julie backs out once she and Ben stand in front of her birth mother’s brownstone. They butt heads again regarding Ben’s concerns, leading Julie to try a new approach. Meeting her in the flesh was too raw, and writing down her feelings didn’t work. She borrows Felicity’s tape recorder and speaks directly to her mother. Where did her brown eyes come from? Her dipped nose? Her enviable ability to eat three candy bars and maintain her slender frame? All she wants is to meet Carol. Nothing more, nothing less.

ABC/The WB/screengrab

ABC/The WB/screengrab

What it all boils down to is the kindness of friends. Felicity speaks honestly about those integral friendships that exist on a higher tier than casual acquaintances or even romantic partnerships. Because friendships, the best ones, can play out like some of the greatest love stories of our lives. That’s why Felicity learning the delicate dance between being an objective fourth wall and a loud and proud buttinsky is an important story arc.

It’s why Julie accidentally coming face-to-face with her birth mother in her office made her realize that Ben was right to be concerned. Pushing away someone who cares won’t bring someone who might not care any closer. It’s also why Elena has to come to terms with the fact that Tara, her best friend, would betray her by sneaking behind her back, accompanying Blair to a jazz show, and kissing him for all the world to see.

As Sally confesses in her tape, she once cheated on her late husband, but learned an invaluable lesson: “Sometimes in a relationship, going through hell isn’t so bad if you come out of it a little stronger. I guess the same is true about friendships.” With Felicity and Ben by their sides, Elena and Julie come out of their hell a little bit stronger.

NOTES FROM THE TAPE RECORDER:

  • Noel’s storyline was objectively odd, yes? Inspired by an angry Richard to obtain a new vending machine for the dormitory, he teams up with Sensa, a mysterious Russian female student on his floor with underground connections. They fake being a couple to secure the approval of her macho family, only to get a snazzy machine that doesn’t work. Hilariously on-brand for poor ol’ Noel.
  • Speaking of Noel, he and Ben shared another awkward scene together. It feels like randomly placing these two in the same space to highlight Noel’s jealousy of Ben is gearing up for something bigger.
  • Julie doesn’t officially meet Carol, but what will happen when they do? Will Carol listen to Julie’s tape?
  • Felicity had no reaction to Noel posing as Sensa’s boyfriend. Does this point to trouble, or has Felicity lost her will to overthink?

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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