The TV Show That Helped Me Feel Good About Moving Away from My Hometown (Really!)

published Jul 2, 2024
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Kerri Russell as Felicity Porter in "Felicity."
Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During the last few months of my freshman year of college, I really wanted to pick a new show — and I was struggling. 

I often gravitated toward American high school teen dramas because I felt like I could relate to them (not that I attended an elite Upper East Side prep school like the core four in Gossip Girl!), but this time I was looking for a series set in college, as I now lived on campus. I’ve also always enjoyed shows from the ’90s and early 2000s. 

And so I ended up starting Felicity, a coming-of-age college drama set in New York City in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It stars the iconic Keri Russell (The Americans), as well as Scott Speedman (Grey’s Anatomy) and Scott Foley (Scandal). You might know Felicity as the show that aired the most despised haircut in TV history. The plot focuses on Felicity Porter (Russell), who follows her high school crush, Ben Covington (Speedman), to college across the country in New York. She soon realizes how risky this choice may have been. She attends the University of New York, where she meets her RA, Noel Crane (Foley), whom she ends up dating. She grapples with a polar-opposite roommate, a love triangle, learning a new city, finding her people, and discovering what she wants her future career to be. Felicity is the perfect cozy watch, and the four-season series has quickly become one of my comfort shows.

Now I know it’s 2024 and the show debuted 25 years ago, but I believe that many of the lessons I’ve gleaned from Felicity still pertain to college life today. Here are some of the most memorable ones I’ve held onto even after finishing the show. (Some plot spoilers below.)

Lesson #1: Be Sure You’re Making Big Decisions for the Right Reasons

Felicity decides to follow her high school crush, Ben, to the University of New York instead of pursuing her parents’ wish for her to attend Stanford and become a doctor. She makes this irrational last-minute swap simply because Ben wrote in her yearbook that he wished he’d gotten to know her better. Felicity completely disrupts her future for this guy — and then Ben shows no romantic interest in Felicity (at first) when she confesses her feelings.  

My takeaway was clear: You shouldn’t drop everything you’ve planned just for someone you have a crush on. You have to make a choice like this on your own and for your own well-being. You can’t depend on others for your happiness and prosperity. I applied this sort of thinking — asking myself, Can I handle this and will it be good for me? — before I committed to taking an executive role in a club. I also make sure any job I apply to actually has to do with my future career goals.

Lesson #2: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone in a New City Might Help You Find Yourself

In the end, Felicity chooses to stay in New York City — and that proves to be the best decision she has ever made. Despite her rocky start, she’s able to truly grow in this new place. She could have gone back to her home state to attend Stanford, near her parents, but she wouldn’t have had the same learning experience she gets in New York City. 

I really relate to Felicity in this case, because I chose to go to college out of state, four hours away from my parents. It took me out of my comfort zone, but I knew what I had to do. At first, it was tough — especially without convenient transportation home — but that only made me more independent. I was able to do things alone like grocery shop, and I advocated for myself when it came to new jobs and dealing with getting sick. I learned to rely on myself in this new town.

Lesson #3: It’s OK to Change Your Major

Throughout the entirety of the series, Felicity struggles with what she wants to pursue as a career. She goes from pre-med to art to pre-med again. This shows that it’s OK to be unsure of your future. It’s impossible to know who you want to be for life when you’re 18 years old, and I think it only gets more confusing as you grow older. The important lesson here is that you have to follow your heart, and it’s fine that your heart may change its mind every now and then! 

After only one semester as a business administration major, I made the uneasy decision to switch to public communication. After a lot of going back and forth with my parents, my advisor, and myself, I understood that this was the best route for me and my personal goals. I knew that I wanted to focus more on digital marketing and public relations, and business administration was not going to get me there as soon as I had hoped. Public communication would help, though, and in a more enjoyable and fulfilling way.

Lesson #4: Give Your Totally Different Roommate a Chance — They May Be the Coolest Person You’ve Ever Met

Felicity is immediately put off by her roommate when she moves in. Meghan appears as a mysterious character who practices witchcraft and hides an ominous box under her bed that Felicity finds alarming. Meghan and Felicity do not get along at first. Meghan is constantly making snarky remarks at Felicity. But as the show progresses, Felicity gets to know Meghan and understand her for who she is and why she is that way — and  Meghan soon becomes one of Felicity’s closest friends. 

Although I never had to deal with a polar-opposite roommate, I do believe this idea can apply to making new friends in college. We often choose to perceive people without learning their stories. We see what we assume to be the truth and we believe that. Felicity and Meghan’s friendship taught me that you have to put in the effort to get to know the person you may see as impossible to befriend because they may end up being the one person you can count on. It’s all about perspective.

This post originally ran on Dorm Therapy. See it there: I Watch This 2000s TV Show for the College Life Lessons (They’re So Relevant!)