Episode Reviews

Pilot Review: “Selfie”


Selfie poster

ABC’s “Selfie” starring Karen Gillan and John Cho

ABC’s Selfie is a half hour situation comedy that is loosely based off the stage musical & film My Fair Lady, which is adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. It follows the life of Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), a millennial who works at a company called Kinderkare Pharmaceuticals and has an obsession with social media, amassing a quarter of a million friends online. If you can think it, she uses it: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc.

After an embarrassing incident on a company flight that goes viral, Eliza finds she has no actual friends that she can turn to that don’t exist online. Enter Henry Higgs (John Cho), who works at Kinderkare as a self-image guru who turned one of Kinderkare’s products from a tarnished product and re-marketed it as a trusting product. Eliza believes that Henry can re-market her image and relate to people that live outside of an iPhone screen. Henry, who hates social media and doesn’t use a cell phone if he can help it, is initially skeptic that he can change her from her internet pop culture behavior. After some persuasion, he agrees to transform her into a respectable, well mannered woman with a more adult-appropriate dress style. In return, Eliza shows Henry that it’s okay to loosen up and have fun.

Pilot Review:

Created by Emily Kapnek (As Told By Ginger, Suburgatory), this modern take on My Fair Lady stars Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy, Oculus) as Eliza Dooley, the modern version of My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle and John Cho (Harold & Kumar, Star Trek) plays Henry Higgs, the modern version Henry Higgins. Selfie attempts to take the classic film and bring it to the 21st Century filled with modern day internet lingo and hash tags on everything.

There’s no question this show is supposed to be a romantic situation comedy, evidenced by a clear oil-meets-water banter between Eliza and Henry with hints of romantic tension. The problem is, the viewer has to like both personalities in order for the romantic tension to be believable. Eliza comes off as one of the most obnoxious people you could encounter; she acts like a teenage girl instead of a sales representative at a pharmaceutical company, wearing loud, eye catching clothing for instant attention. She’s inconsiderate of other people and makes endless pop culture references, using abbreviations, hash tags, and slang as if she’s on Facebook or Instagram.

John Cho as Henry Higgs and Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley

John Cho as Henry Higgs and Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley

While it’s obviously the point of the show, Eliza comes off as those annoying individuals that Henry says use social media as “a fingernail scratching the constant itch for attention.” Let’s be honest, we all have friends like that with the endless selfies and unnecessary hash tags that fill up our feeds. Yes, the show has to establish that Eliza is one of these people, but the social media jokes get old really fast. Meanwhile, Henry is more of a level headed individual that the viewer can relate to. The majority of us use social media, and people like Eliza can annoy us which makes his character instantly relatable.

The jokes that aren’t about social media fail to deliver much of a laugh and feel cheap or forced. Karen and John are the only things holding the show together, and that’s mainly due to their star-power. Without them, we’re looking at an uninspired sitcom overstuffed with social-media jokes, cringe worthy punchlines, and eye rolling moments.

I should also point out that the Eliza character has her own Twitter account and an Instagram account, both “@The_Doolito”. The accounts are active and the Twitter account will likely respond to you if you tweet something to it. Neither accounts are handled by Karen, but it looks like it’s an attempt to connect with fans of the show. It’s a unique marketing strategy and could be something we see more of in future television shows.

Karen and John are wonderful actors, but their talents feel wasted on this poor remake of My Fair Lady. If anything, the premise of the show would be better suited for a TV-movie, not a potential 100 episode series. If you’re into social media jokes and want a mindless sitcom to unwind at the end of the day, check it out. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.

Grade: 1.5 out of 5

2 replies »

  1. I have to disagree with much of your assessment. First, it is a 1/2 hour pilot which means that we are given a quick look at the characters and show. I would never judge a show just by its pilot. Second, it’s not a deep thinking show – it is meant to be rom com fun. The humor was there (i.e. #struggle) and while maybe not every note was hit – I could say the same for the pilot of Big Bang Theory. As for the likability of the characters – if you saw My Fair Lady – neither character was likable in the beginning. The point of the story is that the characters affect and improve each other. Growth. I look forward to seeing both Eliza and Henry develop as people. Now, I’d rather see Karen Gillan as Amelia Pond, but since that ship has sailed, I am more than happy to enjoy her work in this sitcom. Will it be wildly successful ? I don’t know but I’ll enjoy the “mindless” sitcom because in reality, most sitcoms are mindless.

    • I understand not judging a show by it’s pilot, but I have to have a hook to want to come back and tune in the next week. For example, “The Goldbergs” was a pilot that I wasn’t partial to, but there were parts that made me crack up. I wasn’t impressed with it, but it left enough of a hook for me to want to tune in next week and give it another shot. The second episode was much better and I was happy to stick around. Same goes for “The Big Bang Theory.” Sure, it wasn’t a solid pilot episode, but it had enough jokes in there to draw me back. “The Big Bang Theory” can rub me the wrong way at times, especially Sheldon’s anal behavior, but the pop culture references were relevant to me. I found it funny because it reminded me of incidents with my friends, or they’ll make a joke about a TV show that I know and it’s funny to me. With Sheldon, I found some traits that I could relate to, such has his attention to detail or his dislike of change. I’m not big on change, but not to the degree as Sheldon, which can be frustrating at times to watch, however I could still find something to relate with him. I never got that with Eliza.

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with ‘midless sitcoms’ and I’ll take one over a reality show any day. I suppose it depends on the person. For example, I wasn’t a fan of “The Office” and I know plenty of people that enjoyed it. Everyone has different humor preferences. I know people who hate “Seinfeld” but I love it. “Selfie” just didn’t provide interesting characters or the laughs. But just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you have to hate it as well.

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