Melodrama: Felcity

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One of the greatest attributes attached to the melodramatic genre is that it holds a wide variety of styles, settings, and characters. The criteria, like every other film or television show revolves around the dramatic conflict and how the characters deal with it. The evolution of this genre is constantly being revised by those who insist on testing its limit - whether it be shifting the setting to the workplace as seen on West Wing or E.R., or having unique interaction between family members by creating a generation gap seen on Dawson’s Creek. Although the discussions of how the family melodrama differs from the family sitcom is focused on interaction with others, it has become increasingly clear that both formats have varied their family oriented structure to the interaction between coworkers and partnerships. One melodrama that exemplifies this is the hit series, Felicity.

By presenting a unique coming of age story that struggles to deal with mature relationships, expanding the notion of family with a tight-knit gap of students, and creating an atmosphere that binds them together for a four year period has helped shape up within the evolution of this genre.

First and foremost, what makes Felicity stand out as a melodrama is creating a lovable character that enters a foreign environment alone (with the exception of following her high school crush) and is basically forced to find connections with fellow students. Besides the initial fact that I relate on some level to the collegiate experience, the interaction with the characters is one that everybody would envy. Never has there been a series that has successfully begun and ended within that four year time period.

The episode I watched that exemplified the dynamics of the interaction between college students was filmed the second to last season as the series finale. The main story that centered the episode was Noel’s (Felicity’s best guy friend) graduation from college along with the confession of his love for her. Not only was this going to be a physical transition for their friendship, but Noel’s love has also caused more distance between them because it is not reciprocated. The real drama was thrown on Felicity’s shoulders when Noel decided he “loved her too much to be friends,” the same time her boyfriend, Ben, was leaving her for the summer. But unlike most dramas, the conflicts such as these that Felicity encountered in this series was created by her - having the main character make her own decision to come out here.

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When it comes to the dramatic structure, writers know that the main character has to evolve dramatically throughout the story. In “Felicity,” the creators began the show with a character who really had no distinct personality. And yet, they made her lovable by using her curiosity for life and people. College can be some of the greatest memories and some regrettable moments as well - but it’s okay because its never a better time where you can make mistakes and create “a new version of you” (the theme song title).

It strays away from the melodramatic structure in the sense that the main character was not simply dumped in this foreign environment, but rather distinctly chose it. Perhaps the tis why Felicity is such a lovable character - she was willing to take a huge leap of faith and go to an unknown place that was going to be life changing. She took a huge risk within the first 0 minutes of the pilot, not having any expectations and open to everyone that crossed her path. We all admire or wish we had that kind of courage to simply leave everything behind and create a new start of your life and yourself. To my knowledge, there has never been a successful drama that has begun its series in college and continued throughout all the years.

It has been proven, especially within the shows annual Thanksgiving episode, that it emphasizes the typical American beliefs, yet does it within the context of portraying a different family-like atmosphere. These various episodes, the core characters always find themselves having a big Thanksgiving feast with each other instead of their immediate family. They all have their various reasons as to why they end up together but the result is always gratefulness. This is a great example of showing that Felicity’s college path is not only giving her an education, but most importantly, giving her relationships that will last a lifetime. This series definitely emphasizes the expansion of the notion of family as loving and welcoming environment. It definitely brings about the majority of clashing characters such as a family, and still gives the characters a freedom that an immediate family doesn’t. College is an opportunity to live your life any way you choose, and every character is fully aware and accepting of that because they too are experiencing the same feeling. Unlike a family, they are quick to lend an ear and only judge if asked. In the end it is clear everybody has a profound sense of respect and love for one another. They all know if a crisis ever arises, such as when Ben’s friend was shot at a party, they will be there for one another without a doubt.

Leaving her parents expectations at home when Felicity left for college, she knew she wanted to live her own life and discover what she’s passionate about. So she followed the one thing that put a smile on her face.......BEN. Felicity’s personality once she arrived at college was passive, yet welcoming. The result was this tight group of students that later proved they all need and love Felicity, simply because she was a lover and nurturer by nature.

In an episode where Ben out he’s going to be a dad from the previous one night stand, Felicity realized that everyone always goes to her with their problems, yet she really has no person as an outlet for herself, with the exception of the first year where she discusses her problems on tape with a past teacher. This seems to portray Felicity as a mother figure, because her passive nature tends to branch out and want to cater to everyones needs and make them happy. This was a huge issue in the episode I was discussing earlier, where Noel was in love with Felicity. She wanted to remain best friends with Noel, and have Ben be her boyfriend, and even desired them to get along as well. As her boss, Javier explained to her, she can’t make them both be friends for her sake when she is the object of both of their desires. So she goes back to her normal lifestyle of splitting up her time between the both of them and having the drama continue.

Unlike the basic melodramatic structure of having the character face external conflicts such as another character or life’s bad luck, Felicity is always in conflict with herself. Although, it is always the core cast characters that instigate the drama that is thrown on Felicity, she always internalizes it first. In a typical family domestic melodrama, it is up to the family to give advice to the troubled character, whether they ask for it or not. In this environment, Felicity and other characters, because of their friendships, are really only given advice after asking for it. The show’s approach, unlike a lot of other melodramas dealing with conflict in more of a subtle, yet straight way.

Last but not least, what makes this show so great is the fact that all the conflict is really based off the characters involvement with each other, and not the outside world. This is probably the biggest difference between the family melodrama and Felicity. It has a very realistic and stylized feel to it which seems to capture and alter the audiences perception of the weekly conflict. The ongoing love triangle between Noel, Felicity and Ben is always encapsulating a huge variety of viewers (mainly women) to see if Felicity will indeed choose the boy that the audience memeber would usually prefer.

Her big trials and tribulations involve her current feelings and circumstances surrounding these boys and Felicity’s reaction and action when it comes to conflict. The core element that brings drama in this series, is the central fact that the conflict revolves around, is brought about by a character’s (usually Felicity’s) emotions. This is the main source of all tension on the show - whether it be accepting personal emotions, rejecting others, or the majority of the time, trying to go about dealing with them. It is an ongoing process between the characters either within a friendship or in a relationship context. It focuses on the issues that everybody can relate to - attraction, lust, ideally the opposite sex, which then brings up love. Despite the coming of age backstroke, everyone always has drama within a relationship and that is constantly portrayed within this series.

This is another example of a realistic character - Felicity is never one of the certainty. Despite her courage to take risks, the writers also had to make it a priority to point she’s not always 100% when making a decision. She’s a girl - and may take a risk but makes it clear that she too is scared and unsure of the future and the life before her, unlike her best friend, Elana, who’s a self-assured determined individual and goes for what she wants. In addition to that is her roommate Megan, a girl who’s so straight up shes considered rude half the time. But her character helps Felicity accept her feelings and analyze them, especially when it comes to her actions with Noel and Ben. Like a family, the core cast characters just seem to balance each other out, and yet don’t keep the family atmosphere because someone, sometime always has an apparent (or sometimes hidden) desire for someone in their circle. This concept keeps it interesting!

When it comes to the specific gender roles, Felicity is the stereotypical girl with Ben but more aggressive with Noel. Perhaps it is why theres always this tension and uncertainty when it comes to Felicity’s love for either Noel or Ben. She pursues Ben the entire time, yet always seems to be pursued by Noel, which always reassures her that she’s loved. But then in the season finale, Felicity is forced to come to terms with Noel’s adamant decision to keep Felicity out of his life for the time being so he can get over her. As much as Felicity tries to understand, she simply can’t, partially because she’s so used to controlling their relationship. In the end of the episode however, like a family sitcom, unexplained circumstances bring Noel and Felicity together to patch things up. That was probably the only episode that contained a plot where Noel had the control over Felicity, which was probably why she wanted so badly to patch things up. She was used to his friendship, and often took it for granted when Ben wasn’t acting like a boyfriend should. But there’s always this fine line with relationships where the women likes to be in control yet also be pursued. One second she wants a challenge then drops him like bad habit once she’s got him. As the series came to an end and every character was faced to go their own way, Ben realized that it was finally his turn to follow Felicity. And of course, they ended up happily ever after.

In conclusion, presenting a unique coming of age story that struggles to deal with mature loving relationships, expanding the notion of family with a tight-knit gap of students, and creating an atmosphere that binds them together for a four year period has helped shape up within the evolution of this genre. It proves that everyone can relate to the material created, no matter the age of the characters, if the topic is human oriented and focusing on love for others. Felicity finally pinpoints a transitional stage of everyone’s life that is full of questions and on the path to discovering one’s true selves while bombarded with the thought of immerging into the real world. It’s a perfect premise for a show - and yet, no one had created a success, until now.

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