If you ever wondered what a sitcom would look like if it hijacked a fad, Selfie is it. The show tries pretty hard to be in the now by focusing itself on a social media obsessed, kinda sad overall human being and then constantly bombards you with social media references (there’s even one in the program’s title: Selfie) and pop culture references like Flappy Bird, Siri and Katy Perry.
It’s a rather weak foundation for a sitcom because when the social media fad gives way, chances are this show will as well. Not that I’m expecting it to see the day when Facebook is a distant memory for most of us, Selfie would be lucky to remain on the air past Christmas.
That, however, is probably just long enough for you to make it an interesting discussion piece years from now when you and your friends reminisce over the social media craze we’re in the midst of at the moment. Selfie is more of a novelty, one of those things you see every season wondering how on earth the network thinks it’s going to last more than a few episodes. ABC has had a few doozies in the past few years. Anyone remember Work It, Carpoolers and Cavemen?
If you try your best to ignore the show’s hyper-modern gimmicks (which is nearly impossible), you may come away from it thinking the characters are rather one-dimensional and the plot is a bit ho-hum.
The series follows a rather successful sales rep, Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) who is obsessed with social media. Once her life starts crashing down, however, she realizes all those followers and Facebook friends don’t really suffice for real friends. To change, she reaches out to a coworker, Henry (John Cho), who managed to remarket/rebrand a pediatric spray that allegedly caused satanic hallucinations. She hopes he would help her essentially rebrand herself so she could have meaningful relationships with others. However, in a bit of an odd twist, he is somewhat of a loner himself. So in a way they need each other. He can teach her to be civil and she can teach him to let loose (or so I hope).
Other people describe Selfie as My Fair Lady in the social media age, which I think is about right. The show did feel as if it was done before, it’s just that ABC has drenched it in as many current pop culture references as possible, particularly social media references, and now they’re trying to pass it off as a new sitcom.
Sadly, as a sitcom, Selfie is pretty mediocre as well. Most of the pilot feels as if it is focused on building the premise of the series, which is understandable, but shouldn’t have been so obvious. During my first go at the pilot, I felt it didn’t give itself too many opportunities to tell some solid jokes, particularly in the first half of the episode.
It’s then where Eliza is in the midst of a nightmare: She learns the truth about her boyfriend while on a plane, vomits to somehow fill two sick bags, have the bags’ bottoms give way so the vomit or “panic pudding” covers her legs and since it ruins her clothes, she is forced to find/create an impromptu dress. This, of course, makes its way onto social media. Eliza grows depressed after the humiliating turn of events, and realizes no one is there for her, which leads her to try to make a few changes in her life.
That’s all not particularly funny, unless you like watching idiots in misery (I know there are a few of you out there), but by the second half of the episode though, I found myself chuckling a few times. It’s at that point Eliza attempts to make changes and things get a bit awkward to say the least.
A lot like many other sitcoms these days, Selfie isn’t a laugh riot. The jokes are on the subtle side, perhaps because they aren’t as obvious without a laugh track. I kinda felt it could wind up being much funnier in the coming episodes when the show isn’t busy trying to set up its paper-thin plot and focuses on the jokes.
Selfie isn’t as terrible as some of the worst sitcoms ABC has put on the air since 2000. It isn’t up there with Modern Family, Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23, Happy Endings, The Middle or Cougar Town, yet. (I know, some of those bars are pretty low.) Its premise is rather bland when you try to look past how the show obnoxiously tries to shoehorn anything it can to be modern.
However, I think the success of this series, although it’s almost certain to be cancelled within weeks, relies on what the writers can muster up. If they really use their imagination and have a few good jokes up their sleeves, it could wind up being a bit amusing for the few weeks that it’s on the air (or if they’re real miracle workers they can completely turn the show around and save it from cancellationville), otherwise, the program could just suffer a real quick, painful death.
Episode Reviewed: Pilot
Selfie debuts Tuesday, September 30th at 8 p.m. on ABC
(Featured Image: Screenshot via Watch ABC)