As the cast of Felicity took the stage at the Paramount Theatre for the 20-year reunion at the ATX Television Festival, the memorable, comforting theme song (which was not sung by star Amy Jo Johnson, despite what the CD liner notes say) echoed through the sold-out audience. Fans of the then-WB channel, angsty college drama welcomed stars Keri Russell, Scott Speedman, Scott Foley, Tangi Miller, Amanda Foreman, Ian Gomez, Greg Grunberg, Rob Benedict, Amy Jo Johnson, and show director/executive producer Lawrence Trilling as they reflected on their experiences on the show. But amidst all the nostalgia, cast camaraderie, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, the cast had a tough time recalling that multi-tiered series finale and Noel — er, I mean Foley backpedaled his thoughts on a Felicity reunion.
Created by J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, Felicity aired from 1998 to 2002 and followed the awkward and enlightening college ups and downs of the titular Felicity — a role which won Russell a Golden Globe. The show had fans embroiled in a Team Ben vs. Team Noel debate, while Russell’s second season hair makeover shook the world to its core. Through the Sarah McLachlan soundtrack, the show eventually ended with Felicity getting together with Speedman’s Ben — well, that was the first ending.
Russell pointed out the network canceled the drama and then turned around and asked us to do more. “J.J. and Matt said the show was going to end, but they didn’t know when,” which is why they had to do additional episodes. Foley directed what he calls the “faux” finale, where Felicity graduated from college, while Trilling directed the ultimate series finale.
Grunberg, who played overeager inventor Sean on the show, mentions that when they were canceled, they were replaced by another show — and then when that show didn’t work out, they asked them to do more. “And that show was Roseanne,” he joked.
During the last five episodes, Abrams added a time-traveling element to the narrative after the “faux finale,” where Felicity made different life choices which eventually affected the series finale. Confused? So was the cast.
“Hold on, I die?!” Foley asked when they mentioned his character died in a building fire. (For the record, Noel did die in a fire — at least in this alternate Felicity timeline.)
Fans of the show were split on the show’s final episodes, which went in line with Abrams’ affinity for complex story lines involving travel through time and space (remember Lost?) and the cast wasn’t any different. Grunberg admits he felt it was a totally “different show” in its final moments. Foreman, who played Felicity’s unfiltered Goth roommate Meghan, disagreed.
“I loved it,” said Foreman. “I thought it was so clever.” She thought it was a good way to end the show after going through the initial ending. She continues saying that Felicity’s time-travel was fun because it explores if she made the right decision in choosing Ben. “I know people didn’t like it — I liked it. She made a different choice to see what would happen.”
Foley chimed in again, “She chose Ben because I died.”
Despite Foley’s bitterness for Felicity’s choice, he reflected on the last episode of Noel’s wedding where Sean is giving a toast. “What you didn’t see is Greg getting up there and saying a love letter to the cast,” he reveals. “You can see how emotional each one of us is getting.”
With the TV landscape filled with reboots and revivals, the conversation of a Felicity reboot came up.
Benedict immediately reacted, saying “Come on guys! I’m in!” While Grunberg said he would love a reunion. If not a Felicity reboot, then something else.
“We can do Gilligan’s Island,” said Gomez.
During the Whiskey Cavalier panel Saturday night, Foley said that he wouldn’t want a reboot, but after being on stage with his cast, emotions came back from when he was shooting the show. “I would love the opportunity to see what happened [with the characters],” he said. “I miss you guys!”
“There’s a way to make it work,” said Speedman.
After 20 years, the show still resonates with audiences, as Hulu re-introduced the collegiate highs and lows of Felicity to a new audience.
“The beauty of the show is this romantic idea of this chance to change your life completely,” said Russell. “Everyone can look back and say, ‘I wish I would have taken that chance’ — that was the sweetness, beauty, and truth of the show. That’s what we got to live out on the show.”