It’s a big month for Keri Russell: she is nominated for an Emmy award for her work as Elizabeth Jennings on The Americans, she is rumored to be appearing in the next installment of Star Wars, and Felicity, the drama that made her famous, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Felicity, which aired on the WB (a sentence that drives home how long ago 20 years really is!) from 1998-2002, is the story of a girl whose high school crush makes an offhand comment that he wishes they had gotten to know each other better; upon hearing that, she decides to change her college plans and follow him to school in New York. While there are some stalking red flags there, she eventually realizes that she didn’t change her plans for a boy: she changed them to find herself, and to not live the life her parents had orchestrated for her. The show follows her college experiences as she deals with roommates, heartbreak, and life in Manhattan.
In honor of the show’s anniversary, here are a few Felicity facts you may not know:
- Series creator J.J. Abrams and actor Greg Grunberg, who played Sean, have known each other since they were three years old. Abrams has cast his best friend in all of his work, including Alias, Lost, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- Felicity corresponds with her French tutor, Sally, via cassette tapes (again, how 1998!), a narrative choice that lets viewers know what Felicity is thinking. Sally never appears on the show in person, but you hear her voice often and it may sound familiar: she’s voiced by Janeane Garofalo.
- The University of New York, which Felicity and Co. attend, is clearly supposed to be N.Y.U.; producers had to use an alias after the college denied permission to use the institution’s real name, worried that the show would be too racy and hurt the school’s reputation.
- A scandal erupted when 19-year-old show writer Riley Weston, who had a role in one episode as a high school student visiting campus, was found out to be in her 30’s. The lie cost her a job and a huge development deal that she signed with Disney. She was committed to the ruse, displaying a Titanic poster on her wall and bringing her mother to work.
- After her breakup with Ben, Felicity chopped her hair off, and Russell did, too–going from a flowing mane to a pixie cut. The fallout was disastrous and WB executives actually blamed it for the show’s falling ratings.
Still feeling nostalgic? In honor of Felicity, try one of these university-set reads for all of the college drama with none of the final exams.
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell–fan fiction writer Cath is struggling during her freshman year of college, away from her twin sister for the first time and dealing with a bad roommate, strange classmates, and a crush.
The Female Persuasion, by Meg Wolitzer–Greer’s life is forever changed after meeting a feminist activist who inspires her to look past the traditional life she had always envisioned.
I Hate Everyone But You, by Gaby Dunn–when two best friends leave for separate colleges, they wonder if their friendship will be able to survive the distance.
The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides–an English major finds herself in a love triangle in this postmodern take on romantic novels.
We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour–Marin tries to leave tragedy behind her when she goes to college across the country, but a visit from her friend brings secrets to the surface.