I don’t know if you’d call it a guilty pleasure or not, but one of my favorite television series of all time is “Felicity,” the college drama that ran on the WB from 1998-2002. Created by J.J. Abrams, it wasn’t that the series contained outstanding writing or even an original premise, it’s that “Felicity” featured an outstanding cast that, if you were a certain age, was easy to identify with. It’s hard to describe, exactly, but for some silly reason, that little-seen drama spoke to me, echoing much of the insecurity and uncertainty I felt in entering college. There was also, of course, the love triangle of the ages, one that the show managed to keep fresh for the entire series’ run. Ben or Noel was the original Jacob or Edward (or Stefan or Damon), except that there was no glitter, and the dynamic felt intense and real, although I still have no idea how anyone could even consider Ben over Noel. I mean, COME ON.
The thing about that “Felicity” cast, too, is that I grew so enamored with it that I couldn’t help but to follow every member (except maybe Amy Jo) in their post-“Felicity” careers, often watching their films and television shows solely as an excuse to feel a small bit of the magic I felt with their characters on “Felicity.” It didn’t hurt, of course, that several of them — especially Scott Foley, Kerri Russell, and Ian Gomez — were legitimately talented actors.
Yes, I’m a giant vagina. Eat a dick.
It’s been a decade now since the series ended its run (with one outrageously credibility-stretching four-episode finale dreamed up by Abrams that somehow worked on an emotional level even if it did not on a logical level), so I thought we’d check in on the cast and see what came of them.
Keri Russell — I thought Russell was destined for huge success, but she pulled away from the entertainment industry for several years, and even now, only dabbles in it, though I still don’t know if that’s more by choice or due to a lack of roles. She had nice turns in Mission Impossible II and The Upside of Anger, starred in one of my favorite films of the Aughts, Waitress, and then kind of crapped out in a series of film roles like August Rush (a stupid guilty pleasure of mine because of Russell), the dreadful Extraordinary Measures and Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories. The Adam Sandler curse may have gotten the best of her, unfortunately, as her Fox series, “Running Wilde” fizzled, despite strong talent. She hasn’t done much since, although she has a role that seems tailor-made for her in a movie coming out this year. Austenland will feature Russell as the lead in a movie about a woman obsessed with Pride and Prejudice who travels to the Jane Austen theme park in search of the perfect man. There’s not a lot of buzz on the film yet, but the source novel was a hit.
Scott Speedman — The Canadian actor has kept steady work, but he’s never quite made a mark, often playing “the other guy” (The Vow) or as a subservient to the lead actress (Underworld, Strangers). He has, however, latched on to a very promising pilot from Shawn Ryan, co-starring alongside Andre Braugher in a show about the crew of a U.S. nuclear submarine who become fugitives after refusing to fire their missiles. Ultimately, they make camp on an island that hosts a NATO listening station and declare themselves an independent nuclear nation. Sounds kind of “A-Team”-ish, with submarines, but it comes from Shawn Ryan, who has a stellar television track record (“The Shield,” “Chicago Code,” “Terriers”) even if the series don’t always make it to a second season.
Scott Foley — Foley (who was my favorite actor on the series) has had incredible arcs on two Bill Lawrence sitcoms (“Scrubs” and “Cougartown”) and was nearly made into a series regular on “Scrubs,” but he declined to do the amazing but too-short lived David Mamet series, “The Unit.” He’s also toiling away as a recurring character on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but not even my fondness for Foley could draw me to that sh*tshow. However, he was introduced at the end of the last season of “True Blood” and, I believe, will be elevated to series regular this summer. Where he belongs, however, is on a Jason Katims show like the one Katims is developing for the fall, “County.” Seriously, Scott: Have your agent call Katims’ people.
Tangi Miller — Miller has had relatively steady work in bit parts on TV series and movies I’ve never heard of, rising as high as 9th billed on Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion. But her arm candy in “Felicity,” Donald Faison, did quite well on “Scrubs.”
Greg Grunberg — Grunberg, who grew up with J.J. Abrams, will probably have a job as long as J.J. Abrams is around, but that’s cool because Grunberg is awesome, even if he’s not a particularly outstanding actor. Post-“Felicity,” Grunberg was in “Alias” and “Heroes,” and did well in the little-seen “Love Bites,” which aired over last summer. Most recently, he could also be seen in a tiny cameo-like role in Abrams’ Super 8 and has three movies of very little note on the upcoming slate. Interestingly, however, he came up with the iPhone app, “Yowza!,” so he’s clearly got some of his “Felicity” character coursing through him.
Amanda Foreman — Foreman continues to do OK for herself. Abrams has thrown her a few bones over the years — Star Trek, “Alias,” and Super 8 — and she recurs occasionally on “Parenthood” as the parent of a kid with Asperger’s. She also landed a few episodes of “Private Practice” and, most recently, was a patient (I believe) in “House.”
Amy Jo Johnson — If there was one character on “Felicity” that I didn’t care for it was Amy Jo Johnson’s Julie, but that was more a function of her bad storyline (trying to track down her biological mother). Since “Felicity,” Amy Jo Johnson — who used to be the Pink Power Ranger — landed one of the leads in the successful Canadian cop show, “Flashpoint,” which is re-aired on ION television in America during the summers. I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s OK.
Ian Gomez — Javier! Gomez, of course, is married to Nia Vardalos. Gomez has been in a ton of stuff since “Felicity,” including “The Drew Carey Show” and the short-lived “Jake in Progress.” He’s now an awesome series regular on “Cougar Town,” making him one of several former “Felicity” actors to show up on Bill Lawrence’s shows “Scrubs,” “Cougar Town,” or both. He’s basically the same character in “Cougar Town” that he was on “Felicity,” except that he doesn’t have a Puerto Rican accent. Although he’s nearly as gay on it as he was on “Felicity.”
Rob Benedict — Benedict is not a well-known actor, but he’s always popping up in something, be it commercials, television series (“Supernatural,” “Head Case”) or in Jenna Fischer’s flick, A Little Help, last year. You might have also seen him in last Sunday night’s episode of “Shameless” on Showtime.