Felicia Day Pwns My Heart
I’m an unabashed nerd. If it’s random or odd or geeky, I’m probably into it. Really, the only reason I don’t have a Mac is because I’m also a broke nerd. But I carry my iPhone with pride, and I pwn zombies in Left 4 Dead (not to mention, I have my own actual Zombie Apocalypse escape plan; Organize BEFORE They Arise!), and I’ve been to the Buffy musical sing-a-long. And with all that comes the pointless pining for nerd objects of desire. Natalie Portman, Summer Glau, Sarah Michelle Gellar…these are the ladies of nerdy dreams. And recently, a new idol has been added to this pantheon…Felicia Day.
My first encounter with Felicia Day was in the original airing of Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where she played one of the potential Slayers (though I wouldn’t remember this until recently when I watched the DVDs). She was awkward and cute, and she survived until the end, which was no mean feat given the enormity of the situation before the Slayers.
Cut to a few years later (What? I’m not sure how many. If you really care, you too have the webternet on which to look such things up; I can’t be arsed) when a little mini-musical called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog was taking the internet by storm. Two of its leads, Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris, were well known within the nerd community: Fillion from Firefly and Serenity, and Harris from How I Met Your Mother and nostalgia. The musical was funny and dark, and the songs had that solid-but-fun feel that Joss Whedon first introduced in the special Buffy musical episode, Once More With Feeling. But songs about an also-ran villian and his smarmy nemesis, while clever, would not be enough to carry this little phenomenon through three episodes and into countless portable devices. No, what it needed was a center, a beating heart on which to hinge all the silliness. And that beating heart was Felicia Day.
Ms. Day is no opera singer. Her voice is a little thin and wispy, but it’s true. There’s no bombast or overkill to her singing, just sweet simplicity. Penny drove Dr. Horrible more than his need to be in the Evil League of Evil, more than his quest for power, even if he didn’t acknowledge it. And it’s not until the end, when she dies as a result of one of his malfunctioning contraptions (SPOILER ALERT), that Dr. Horrible truly becomes evil. He no longer can feel anything, because his heart has been ripped out.
I ached with Dr. Horrible when Penny died. It’s a tribute to Felicia Day’s presence and skill that her death in this silly little musical could be so affecting. Nerd tears fell the world over the day Act 3 was released, and Ms. Day became the new girl every unloved boy (and some unloved girls) would give their Macs to meet.
I recently watched Ms. Day’s ode to gamer nerds everwhere, The Guild, in its entirety. It’s a funny, and kindly mocking, slice-of-life examination of a World of Warcraft-esque guild and its members. Her character, Codex, is awkward, shy and unsure of herself…in other words, just like every nerd in the history of ever. But she’s also smart and dryly funny, and pretty darn cute to boot (anybody want a peanut?). Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) represents all of us when he becomes smitten with her. Codex also represents another part of all nerds, the one that always longs just a little to be one of the cool kids (illustrated by her lust for the douche-y stuntman), but will keep plugging along when it doesn’t work out.
I hope Ms. Day continues to get work and be prolific. She is talented, and smart, and witty, and she’s one of us (gooble gobble gooble gobble). And we could do a lot worse than her as a representative.
You can find all episodes of The Guild at www.watchtheguild.com, or you can buy the DVDs on Amazon. Seriously, check that business out!