Why I Finally Forgave Felicity for Cutting Her Hair

It was the “snip snip snip” heard ‘round TV land in the Fall of 1999. Never before had a single haircut garnered such an explosive reaction as when Keri Russell chopped off her magazine-worthy cascade of honey-colored curls for the second season of the popular WB series Felicity.

Almost immediately, pop culture revolted against her new-do—and rightly so. Even network executives addressed her fallen locks as an oversight and apologized for not paying closer attention to their star.

Like many diehard fans of the show, my heart shattered the day magazines and newspapers featured Russell’s new tightly wound pixie cut. In the eight short months it took season one to air, Felicity had become my best friend. She was a hero — a living legend — to the countless high school girls who followed her weekly moves with bated breath. I was blindsided and felt betrayed by this revelation—never was I even consulted in such a momentous decision. In today’s age, Russell would have at least taken to Twitter to poll her followers.


Sure, Felicity Porter was known for making rash decisions (like throwing away an ivy league education to follow her high school crush to New York City on a mere whim), but surely Keri knew better. Those fairy-tale curls weren’t just ornamental — like Joey Potter’s signature pout or Buffy Summers’ wooden stake — they were her defining characteristic.

Without them, could I even take Noel Crane’s infatuation seriously? Would I even buy her hot-and-cold romance with Ben Covington? What would her folks say about this new development? I mean, who was Felicity with no hair?

I didn’t stick around to find out. What was once appointment television became an afterthought—and I wasn’t alone. Viewership for the series declined by nearly half in its second season (but regained some popularity in its final two—which has to be because her hair became somewhat palatable again). Perhaps if DVR or OnDemand features had been available back then, I would have taken a few months to grieve and eventually return to Felicity (like I did with Real Housewives of Orange County after they finally booted Gretchen and Slade). But by the time the series DVDs were released years later, the damage had been done and I had moved on. Keri Russell ruined Felicity for me — and she was on my s**t list.

An avid FX viewer (Justified, Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story), you can imagine my surprise when promos started running in late 2012 for the network’s new drama series The Americans starring none other than Keri Russell. It had been more than a decade since our falling out, but the feelings bubbled up inside me. There she was, whipping her long, slightly darker, definitely sleeker hair around the screen as undercover KGB officer Elizabeth Jennings. Did she think that taking a flat-iron to her once voluminous mane would make me forget 1999? In my head, the series’ only saving grace was that her co-star Matthew Rhys already seemed to corner the market on curly cropped hair. Despite the critical-acclaim the show was receiving, I initially chose to boycott the series.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…


Eventually, I caved. At the behest of my husband—and the need to fill a 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to London—I downloaded season one.

Not 30 seconds into the first episode, Russell appears on-screen sporting a short, platinum blonde wig. Of course, I thought. It was almost as if she was taunting me. Five minutes later Russell’s character rushes into a car, plops herself into the front seat and removes her disheveled straw hair to reveal her infamous, silky mane. Tease.

But as one episode became two, then four, then six and so on, I started to forget my sordid history with Keri and began my infatuation with Elizabeth Jennings.

Where Felicity Porter was my BFF, my angst-riddled young adult counter part, Elizabeth is my alter ego. She’s who I dream of becoming every time someone cuts me off in the Whole Foods parking lot. She pistols whips, she karate chops, she slams people’s heads through drywall and she rocks 80’s-style Guess jeans like a BOSS. You don’t mess with Elizabeth Jennings.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325610062 Abigail McShinsky

    So what I’m reading on a female-driven website, which often makes the case for feminism, is that a beloved character lost all value (and an actress – all credibility – “surely Keri knew better”) because she cut her hair? The character became irrelevant despite who she was as a person, the show had no redeeming quality, and the actress no sense of decorum, because she cut her hair? Ratings went back up “because her hair became somewhat palatable again?”

    I missed the lol, right? I missed the tongue-in-cheek tone, because there has to be one. I’d love for someone to point it out to me, because I have to believe that this article, especially on HelloGiggles, was written in jest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1012152716 Tak Kate Sparks

    This was embarrassingly disappointing for HelloGiggles. How incerdibly superficial of an article. Quality of a TV show based only on the dead cells attached to one girl’s head? How easily it was forgotten that there was a team of writers who CREATE the characters this actress plays. And that there is a human being beneath the acting, who is free to make her own choices aside from what a fictional character in their show may choose to do.
    How sad that altering something that grows back would actually make you dislike a person. Change, in general, must be a very hard hurdle for this writer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1021628788 Willie Duncan

    As an avid watcher of Felicity, I remember the fiasco around Keri Russell cutting her hair. Did I really care for the haircut? No. But I loved the complex characters, the superb writing and the excellent acting on that show. Too bad a bad haircut made you miss out on a wonderful show.

    • Miso Silly

      I could not agree more! well said!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=615475783 Ayesha Saleh

    This is so disappointing to read on HelloGiggles of all places! You are shaming a woman for cutting her hair because it doesn’t suit you expectations of beauty!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502702171 Elizabeth Moffitt

    HelloGiggles… your credibility has just plummeted. I’ve loved seeing your girl power articles pop up in my Facebook feed. I’ve been looking forward to them. But this…? I feel like I’ve lost IQ points here, and I’m disgusted with this incredibly shallow fluff. If this writer was going for satire (as I hope she was), she definitely missed it.

  • Lizzie Beth

    Wow….people commenting here kinda missed your point. Keri’s hair made the character and went against society’s grain of what an acceptable beautiful woman is. She made curly haired women proud to be curly and empowered many to put down damaging flat irons and accept their gorgeous flowing curls. I liken her to Lynda Carter. No longer did a woman have to be blonde to be beautiful but raven hair rocked and was not associated with anything dark, like witches or evil women. And please don’t tell me you’ve never noticed the blatant discrimination of dark haired women! So for me, Keri’s hair told me, yes…long curly hair is just as beautiful as straight hair and can be maintained very well at that length. For me, when she cut it off, it was as if she was sending that subliminal message that rings into society even today…….Curly hair is just too much work to deal with so instead of dealing with it, cut it off. In fact, it’s not difficult at all, we simply live in a world that is geared toward those with straight hair and straight hair is deemed socially acceptable!
    It’s almost disappointing to see her straighten her hair because I don’t think she realizes the empowerment she gave curly haired women. I am very pleased to see African American women take a stand against society’s standard of beauty set for women and take pride in their coily/curly hair. I hope all women continue to fight against this system of discrimination against women!

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