Things that I don't understand: 90's television shows and hairstyle edition

Specifically: why in heaven's name did Felicity choose Ben over Noel?

I mean seriously folks: Noel was obviously the better choice. And I say this because he was of the geeky, computer literate set, and (I think, I think) was essentially representing all that is good and deserving of those who are single, smart, sensible and nice in the scienc-y community. And yet, and yet, Felicty chooses Ben! And fer chrissakes, this is even with the added variable that had Felicity chosen Noel, she would have also scored a free trip to Europe.

So people, what is up with that?

But wait, wait... Maybe science can provide an answer after all.

Perhaps,as it were, we can be so bold as to assume that J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves were actually thinking about biology and (in particular) some of the nuances of genetics. That, they were aware of studies that looked into the importance of genetic diversity in issues of mate selection.

Perhaps, the dialogue even went like this:

ABRAMS: You know, this Noel guy looks like he could be Felicity's brother or something.

REEVES: Yeah, totally. Causcasian, dark hair, maybe even some similar cheek bone structure going on.

ABRAMS: Which means, of course, that they may have similar genetics, which is so totally bad in terms of potential fitness of offspring.

REEVES: Right! Right! I read that paper too. And that would be bad, because one of the fitness elements involved is a healthy immune system...

ABRAMS: ...and a healthy immune system is partly dependant on having the biggest possible repertoire of immune system molecules you can get...

REEVES: ...which means that, biologically, biologically, you'd want a mate with different immune system genes, so that the offspring gets a better chance of getting different goods from both the mother and the father...

ABRAMS: (getting excited)... and that can't happen if their genetics are the same. That's like getting doubles in your hockey card collection. Not the best thing.

REEVES: Yeah, totally.

ABRAMS: Man, is it me or is this stuff practically writing itself!

REEVES: Yeah, totally. So basically, if we stick with science...

ABRMAS: Yeah, we gotta stick to science.

REEVES: Then, we have to get Felicity to choose Ben - because he's essentially more different. Better mate selection.

ABRAMS: Yeah, totally.



REEVES: Except that, you know what is really different between Felicity and Noel? That could throw off this whole mate selection, similar genetics argument?


REEVES: Their hair, dude. Their hair. Felicity's hair is so totally curly, and Noel's not so much.

ABRAMS: Right, right - that is a potential problem in the plot... Unless, unless we CUT her hair off!

REEVES: Dude, that is freaking brilliant!

ABRAMS: You think?

REEVES: Yeah, totally, dude. Totally.

- - -

Could've happened right? In any event, I leave this open for further discussion to the secret hordes of Felicity fans that reside here in ScienceBlog's world.

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I thought the opposite was the case, that similar genetics increased attraction. Or at least from the tales of people falling for their parent/sibling when meeting them for the first time after a lifetime separation.

By G. Shelley (not verified) on 02 Feb 2007 #permalink

Actually, it is differences that count, but more importantly differences at these immune system genes. In particular, most of the evidence points towards genes of the Major Histocompatibilty Complex (MHC), which work to help "show" things to the immune system.

Check out here, in the LOVE section.

Maybe, it's the bad boy syndrome. Is there such a syndrome?

Actually, it seems that the ladies prefer a male with MHC compatibility similar to their own when they're pregnant or perhaps just not ovulating (e.g. stick with your family when mating's not optimal, maybe when you need help with the baby, or perhaps when you don't want that pesky infanticide to rear its ugly head), and the raunchy MHC divergents are the one that strike a lady's fancy when she's in prime condition to reproduce. At least, that's what smeling sweaty t-shirts seems to be hinting at...

By chiropotes (not verified) on 05 Feb 2007 #permalink

Chiropote, you're totally right about that. That trend was also observed with the mice studies. Which means, in some respect, Felicity's choice depended on whether it was a case of "just hanging out" with or "who will be the Father of my children." And this being a show about college life and all, well... there you have it.

My goodness, who knew Abrams and Reeves' writing had so many levels.