Regarding when the prods decided Olicity was endgame.
I’m fairly certain they were a contingency plan (one of several) before Emily was even cast.
Hear me out.
Sure, the extremely negative media and focus group response to the anti-chemistry and completely unsuitability of the Lauriver relationship didn’t start until media and focus groups saw the pilot in the late spring 2012 timeframe. But the pilot filmed a few months before that, and the prods had plans laid out in case they got picked up.
If you look back at early media articles and early discussion boards and forums, during the pilot and the second ep…they reflected those early responses. Critics and audiences alike could not stomach this. It’s probably the strongest negative reaction I have ever seen to a main couple on a show. But usually, an important and seemingly unalterable main couple like this would’ve been carefully cast to ensure they were suitable, and here that was not done, for some mysterious reason. Even though it was more important here than it would be on most shows, since this girl is supposed to be The One who had gotten Oliver through his dark times, and interest in their relationship was supposed to be strong enough to last the entire run of the show…and every assumption would’ve been that there is no way out of that relationship. It is difficult to believe that the prods willingly chose not to chem test their lead with his future LI.
But here is my question: if media and early focus groups, critics writing initial responses to the first eps, and audiences everywhere could tell that Lauriver could not possibly sustain this show…why couldn’t the producers? Never mind questions about what *season* they changed their minds. How about, while they were filming the pilot? While they were watching the dailies? How could everyone else know, but the people whose jobs were on the line and who have years of experience here miss this important information? How could Berlanti (of “Hey let’s scrap Dawson and Joey and go with Pacey and Joey” fame), Guggenheim, Kreisberg, Pedowitz, Roth…how could they be so blind? Why did it take the media and the viewers to point out to them that they had a disaster on their hands, and that Oliver simply had to have a different love interest?
The answer: They could. They knew. They knew before anyone else. That’s why so many contingency LIs were written and cast. Because they knew they had a problem…they just weren’t quite sure what the solution was, but the ball was rolling and they didn’t have the time and money to reshoot the pilot, plus CW wasn’t ready to blame KC yet. But they also didn’t have the time to launch a really careful rework and chem test numerous actresses with Stephen to try to find the right one.
Isn’t it funny how focus group testing of the pilot just *happened* to complain that Oliver’s tech skills were too much? I mean, amongst all the other skills he had that were planted there deliberately for the audience to question and which indicated he was lying about his missing years, aren’t we fortunate it wasn’t speaking Russian they questioned? If so, would we have had a linguist instead of a tech genius? How dumb is that? The entire pilot BEGS the audience to ask themselves why the things Oliver can do don’t make sense for a guy stranded alone on an island for five years. But it’s this…computer skills…that is the real absurdity? Come. On.
And isn’t it lucky for the prods that without even TRYING, they cast a young woman who as it turns out can play the type (warm, kind, the sort who actually would sustain a man during five years in hell) Oliver’s LI was supposed to be? And wow, without even INTENDING to they totally wrote one of the five greatest romantic comedy meet-cute scenes in tv history for this “one off” character who happened to get cast with a funny, dazzling actress of great warmth and ridiculous beauty? And OMG! The third ep! Their FIRST TRY, they hit on EBR!
Wow, so many accidents! So much good fortune!!!
Yeah, exactly. Bull. Shit.
Bullshit they only created Felicity because focus groups criticized the tech gap. Bullshit their casting notice and discussions with Rappaport didn’t indicate potential LI for Oliver. Bullshit Stephen didn’t know he was working with a potential LI. And bullshit that they didn’t know EXACTLY what they had with them the moment they saw it.
The three EPs are the writers of 103. They wrote that meet-cute as a meet-cute. They picked Emily from a tape as the best potential LOVE INTEREST.
Am I saying they had already made their choice? No. Helena and McKenna were both in the works, also contingencies. But absolutely by the time they put together 108, they knew where they were going. 103 aired 24 October. Pre-prod on Vertigo began 5 November. 103 airing meant critics and audiences confirmed for them what they already knew. It gave them the final word they needed to make that very meaningful cut from Diggle’s “right fit” speech to Felicity.
People, THEY COULD NOT DO WITHOUT A LOVE INTEREST FOR OLIVER. They couldn’t waste time. Their entire series arc for him, unusually enough, required this LI in place from the get-go. They were not making a show about a guy figuring out who he really loves. They were making a show about a guy who KNOWS who he loves, but just has to allow himself to come back to life. How could they do that if they didn’t have that woman in place VERY early? They intended her to have been in place five years before the show began! They simply could not let Oliver go without his LI being established before the end of the first season, which meant she had to come in early and the foundation had to be strong.
So this situation - this need for a LI for him - was fucking *dire*.
And from that point forward, from 108 forward, she got all the romantic beats. She got all the epic beats. Lauriver sex was moved up from at the *earliest* late season three (in case you haven’t noticed, the prods want to make us waaaaaaaaait for the sex) to the end of season one, so nobody would be sitting around wondering if maybe Oliver was going back to her, which would’ve been an eternal question if they hadn’t gone ahead and had the sex scene happen. FWIW, Sariver happened to take that question off the table, too.
So in conclusion, TPTB knew from the shooting of the pilot they had a problem, and as soon as they went into production, they set about ensuring they could solve it. There was very little luck here. This was design.
But of course they cannot say that, because they cannot be unkind to the employee who lost out. So they have to pretend, nonsensically, that the meet-cute and the casting is an accident, that they never intended any of this to happen, etc. We know the obvious truth, though.