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Brilliant Mistake

But -- as Bruce Fretts explains -- mistakes like this are what make the show great

Felicity lost her virginity with the wrong guy

So much for the new virginity chic. On the latest episode of The WB's collegiate drama ''Felicity,'' it was revealed that Keri Russell's previously pristine titular freshman had sex with an art student played by skeevy ex-MTV-VJ Simon Rex. (It could've been worse -- she could've been deflowered by Jesse Camp.) While some viewers are no doubt up in arms that Felicity didn't save herself for her dreamy resident adviser, Noel (Scott Foley), grade-A writing and acting made this plot twist entirely believable.

Series cocreators Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams are smart enough to know that most people's initial sexual experiences are hardly the candlelit fantasies frequently seen in teen movies and TV shows. ''My first time was with someone I didn't know, and I'll never be able to change that,'' Felicity lamented the morning after. You could read the guilt-stricken reaction all over Russell's face -- she looked ashen throughout the episode.

Not that Felicity's behavior wasn't understandable. Noel told her he was confused about his feelings for his ex-girlfriend, so Felicity assumed they were ''on a break'' (shades of Ross and Rachel on ''Friends''). Felicity's confession of her transgression sent Noel on an emotional roller coaster, and Foley convincingly evoked a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

This might sound like standard adolescent-soap stuff, but what lifts ''Felicity'' above your average Clearasil serial is the way it captures the glorious turmoil of undergraduate life. From the mix tapes Noel makes as presents to Felicity's increasingly testy relationship with her gothically mismatched roommate, Meghan (Amanda Foreman), every detail rings true.

After seven excruciating weeks of reruns, it was sweet relief to see ''Felicity'' return in such strong form. The series has survived its insane preseason hype and the inevitable post-premiere backlash, and The WB has already renewed it for next fall. If the show can maintain its current level of quality, fans can look forward to many more years of felicity.

Originally posted Apr 22, 1999
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