The cast of the popular teen drama Felicity which aired from 1998 to 2002.
Chances are if you’ve ever been an undergrad, diagnosed with First World problems or a virgin you've heard of J.J. Abrams’ noughties show Felicity.
Channel Ten’s new drama The Americans has been touted as “Homeland Lite”, however it’s more like Felicity: The Next Generation with scenes dedicated to board games, awkward sex and interrogation.
Monday night’s premiere episode of the critically acclaimed spy-thriller The Americans starring Keri Russell, aka Felicity Porter, shared some striking similarities to the popular teen drama which wrapped up in 2002.
Since then Russell has enjoyed a mediocre film and television career but her return to the small screen brought back a flood of memories of the curly haired, self-absorbed young woman she played in Felicity.
In the series, which first went to air in 1998, she was the girl who changed the entire course of her future in order to chase, or as some would say “hunt down”, her high school crush.
In The Americans, she’s Elizabeth Jenkins, the hard-nosed, undercover spy who, even in the ‘80s, had discovered the smoothing benefits of hair straightening irons and the figure flattering effects of high-waisted jeans and scoop-neck bodysuits. She has also given up her life in provincial Russia and travelled to the US with her KGB partner and husband Phillip, played by Brothers & Sisters star Matthew Rhys.
The similarities between Elizabeth and Felicity aren’t just superficial.
The leading ladies both go after their hearts desire with similar tenacity. Elizabeth is steadfast in her support of the values of the “motherland”, while Felicity was similarly persistent when it came to stalking a boy she likes.
Interestingly, both women also don’t actually know the men in their lives.
Elizabeth married a fellow Soviet spy, Phillip, in order to be sent on her first “information gathering” mission abroad and Felicity decided to hunt down Ben at the University of New York after he wrote a sweet note in her year book. Prior to high school graduation, the pair had never spoken.
As well as scenes featuring board games like Boggle, sexual assault and Russian movies, here are some other ways in which The Americans mirrors Felicity:
Tape recorders are supporting cast members:
As Felicity existed in a time when a Walkman was more sought after than a shirtless Ryan Gosling, the series was narrated via Felicity recording letters on a Dictaphone to her childhood friend Sally.
In the pilot episode of The Americans, the retro tape recorder is seen as one of the tools of the high-tech espionage trade. It’s also demonstrates how sex tapes were made before Paris Hilton’s boyfriend learned how to use his opposable thumbs.
Raised eyebrows about short skirts:
Felicity’s bestie Elena was given what she thought to be a mini skirt by her boyfriend. She mistakenly wore it in public – it was actually a headband.
Elizabeth’s daughter in The Americans, Paige, strutted out of the house in similar fashion to Elena wearing a skirt of shorter than a Northern Territory winter.
The shocked expression on Elizabeth’s face signaled a break in the pop culture continuum. Her bemused look said something along the lines of, “Get back in that house and change. Didn’t Aunty Elena teach you anything?!”
The awkward house warming:
Elizabeth made brownies to make the neighbours with FBI links feel welcome, what ensued was an awkward yet passive aggressive interrogation similar to the scene where Felicity’s goth/witch roommate Meghan washed off her kohl eyeliner and put bows in her hair when her unassuming parents visited.
The clueless side-kick providing running commentary so we can all keep up:
FBI agent Chris Amador had no idea how well trained and entrenched his new colleague Stan Beeman was until Agent Gaad grilled him about their missing informant. His lack of tack and knowledge about Soviet Russian and White Supremacist groups was face palm funny.
The character appeared to be cut from the same cinematic cloth as Noel Crane’s mate Richard.
Richard, who ran a hand modelling business and grilled hamburgers in his dorm room, attempted to blackmail Noel and Felicity by exposing their relationship.
Like Ben’s best friend Sean, Richard and Agent Amador are the court jesters and anchors for “reality” in both series – their stupidity allows the audience to figure out just what the hell is going on.