The Platonic Ideal of College

From a nice little Felicity (the tv show) retrospective at NY Magazine:

Much of the show’s B-stories amount to a fetishized portrayal of the college experience. A show set at a school where characters actually go to class? Get out of here! But on Felicity, when characters aren’t running in and out of dorm rooms or having existential crises, they are in class.  There are seminars and bearded professors dispensing gruff advice, and the most stress-inducing depiction of finals I’ve seen. There are essays and theory and intense discussions of Shakespeare, with people actually paying attention. The RA’s are immensely helpful and students are constantly vying for their attention.Felicity doesn’t nail exactly how college is so much as how it seems like it should feel. It’s a world full of anxiety, elation, insecurity, and an inflated self-worth that leads people into misguided majors like studio art. Depending on your age when you watch it, Felicity can feel aspirational (this is what college should be like!) or nostalgic (Oh, remember, there were some moments when college felt like this, kind of?).

In some ways my college experience wasn’t super dissimilar from that portrayed on Felicity but, more importantly, it was a mature look at the vagaries of your late teen years and early twenties. Without the frenzied dramatics of more recent CW or Fox Shows (The O.C., Gossip Girl, etc) Felicity offered up what seemed to be a measured view of the mini-crises that often define your late adolescence and early adulthood. I, for one, enjoyed every moment of it and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that occasionally during my college years I wasn’t reminded or some scene or moment from Felicity as I stumbled through the constant growing pains of the college experience.


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