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'Felicity' nostalgia recap: Let there be love

Season 1 | Episode 15 | “Love and Marriage” | Aired Feb 23, 1999

Felicity always imagined a sunset beach wedding. White sand, white dress. Family and friends gathered together to celebrate. She never imagined participating in a green-card marriage to a gay man at City Hall. But we all have to field unexpected proposals from time to time. Felicity’s unexpected proposal just so happens to come with a raise and the impending threat of jail time. No biggie.

Out of the clear blue sky, Javier asks Felicity to marry him. His visa is running out, and since marriage equality was not a thing in 1999 (or before last year), he can’t marry his boyfriend, Samuel. Sadly, Javier will be on the next flight back to Spain, without Samuel, if he doesn’t make like Sandra Bullock and find his Ryan Reynolds. Enter Felicity.

Why Felicity seeks Noel’s counsel for anything is still a mystery. His reaction will never not be vehement opposition with a heaping side of jealousy. Playing to type, Noel disagrees with Felicity’s instinct to help Javier stay in the country to be with Samuel. To his credit, he’s thinking of Felicity, which is admirable. But, if you look at the glass half full, she could probably get a ton of painting done in prison.

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

I know I’m hard on Noel, and I can’t promise I’ll go easy on him considering the events of the episode, but he is grappling with some next-level self-esteem issues. Despite his graphic designs being displayed in an elite exhibit, Noel’s wrought with nerves. Ryan (Eddie McClintock), Noel’s older brother (whom he deems holier than thou), arrives in New York for a visit. He’s everything Noel wants to be, and he feels less than in Ryan’s presence. Until, over beers, Ryan tells Noel that he broke up with his girlfriend one year ago. Because he is gay.

Noel initially doesn’t believe Ryan. He talks it over with Felicity, and he’s convinced it’s a phase. The lothario older brother he has idolized since birth can’t be gay. The older brother whose relationship he sought to emulate can’t be gay. The older brother who taught Noel his wisdom can’t be gay. But he is. And Noel’s freak-out has nothing to do with Ryan and everything do to with himself.

Sure, Ryan’s coming out is a shock. Noel’s image of his brother has done a total 180. But to make his coming out — to make anyone’s coming out — about his/your own hang ups and fragility takes the incomprehensibly selfish cake. No one wants to hear “Maybe you and Amy will get back together” after they have taken so long to be open and honest about their truth. However, that didn’t stop Noel from saying it and learning that that will never happen. Ryan has a boyfriend, Alex.

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

Felicity and Noel’s double date with Ryan and Alex doesn’t go down without the Crane brothers storming out. The dinner appears to be successful, then Ryan adds final piece to the puzzle: He and Alex will have a commitment ceremony. Soon. In Noel’s defense, Ryan has admittedly thrown a lot at him at once. But is it okay to turn the news of his brother’s newfound happiness into a question of how much he can trust him?

Ryan has kept quite a bit of personal news from Noel over the past year, but would Noel have reacted differently had Ryan told him the events of his life in sequential order? Before he was ready to share his self-discovery with the world? Would Noel have been all-in supportive then because he could trust him? Maybe he would have, maybe he wouldn’t have. We’ll never know.

Ryan hoped for an ally in Noel, a support system to lean on when coming out to their parents. Circling back to the selfish argument, it’s sad that Noel sidestepped that role. He’s too preoccupied with some dated perception of his brother that he hasn’t seen the forest for the trees: Ryan’s happy and all he wants is love and support.

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

ABC/Hulu/screengrab

Noel receives a lesson in love from Felicity. Although she had turned down Javier’s proposal because she held firm to her belief the marriage is for love, she realized that she was getting married for love. Javier and Samuel’s love. She was willing to do anything she could to keep love where it lie, no matter how scary the yearlong timeline of a green-card marriage might be. With Meghan’s blessing of her “bitchin'” fake union, Felicity gets engaged to Javier, complete with the Pretty Woman jewelry-box bit.

The meeting with the lawyer leaves Javier taking tequila shots, so you could say that getting his visa back will be a struggle. Fortunately, the romantic tale Felicity spun about their love story will forever be fiction, and they’ll no longer lose sleep over the consequences of duping immigration: Samuel will transfer to Spain to be with Javier after all. It’s with a gargantuan muffin basket that Javier thanks Felicity and pushes Noel to confront his faults.

Felicity is a romantic who understands the importance of love and marriage, Javier says. And it’s true. In a sense, Javier wasn’t only fighting to stay in the country. He was fighting for the right to marry the person he actually loved, and Felicity didn’t take that fight for granted. Noel did. A layered epiphany focuses his blurry lens and repairs his relationship with Ryan.

Once again, Sally hits the thematic nail on the head: “Love is complicated. Full of sacrifice and compromise. But maybe that’s the best part.” Whether you’re following your partner to another continent or accepting a loved one for who they are, the best part of love will always be that it’s messy. It isn’t simple or singular. Love is love.

NOTES FROM THE TAPE RECORDER:

  • Insecurity was the B-theme in “Love and Marriage.” Noel felt inferior to his older brother, while Ben felt inferior to, well, everyone. Even though Noel’s graphics were included in an exhibit, he didn’t accept his own talent in the face of his superman brother. Ben, on the other hand, has felt lost since arriving in New York. He didn’t make the track team and doesn’t have a “thing.”
  • Ben uses swimming as a means of therapy, but it becomes something more than a mental escape when he tries out for the swim team. He deals with a fellow team member unknowingly prodding his insecurities, but he makes the team and finds his “thing.” A much-needed win for ol’ Ben.
  • Felicity awkwardly breaking the tension with Alex by saying, “I’m gonna marry a gay guy, too,” is probably the most hilarious thing Felicity has ever done.

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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