Selfie is a terrible name for a sitcom. On that, plenty of people on the Internet agree. But, like the show itself, it could be worse.
The new ABC sitcom, premiering at 8 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 30), doesn’t have a laugh track, for example. (I’m looking at you, Big Bang Theory.) It does have Karen Gillan (Amelia Pond, Scots companion to the 11th Doctor, Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy). Listening to Gillan spew witty Urban Dictionary lingo at lightning speed with a more-entertaining-than-passable American accent never gets old.
And if you’re a fan of John Cho, he’s there, too. Even the post-Pygmalion premise—in which a dude attempts to make a woman more fit for society, and in so doing embiggens himself—isn’t entirely offensive to women. (Comparatively speaking.)
“Quit curating your life for appearances’ sake online and start curating your life for appearances’ sake OFFLINE, like the olds did,” is the message Selfie seems to be going for. “That’s better because … reasons!”
But Selfie isn’t exactly the indictment of tech-obsessed narcissism that it thinks it is. In fact, there’s an awful lot about social media fame and popular culture in general that Selfie doesn’t quite get. But if you wanted a document for our era, you should’ve watched The Shat in S*** My Dad Says. (Just kidding.)
Antisocial Media On TV
Social media obsessive Eliza Dooley turns to her company’s marketing guru Henry Higgs for some personal re-branding after a messy incident involving airline barf bags goes viral, revealing her husk of an existence. (Dooley and Higgs—see what they did there?)
And right there, you’ve got a problem. Eliza suffers mass humiliation following sexual relations with a married co-worker and spilling barf bags on her designer outfit in front of a jet-load of her co-workers, who thoughtfully Vine and Instagram the crap out of it.
Obviously, Internet humiliation is an issue if you’re “Star Wars Kid” Ghyslain Razathe or the unpopular wallflower Eliza’s character once was. For adult Eliza however, or anyone who’s harnessed the power of social media, even the most unwanted or unflattering of viral imagery is easily finessed.
Can you imagine Kim Kardashian curling up into a catatonic ball in a similar situation? The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco turned her leaked topless beach pics into comedy gold. Cuoco can dine out on that story infinitely, if she so desires.
Then there is Higgs’ vocal distaste for America’s very intimate relationship with our mobile devices. His character is right, of course. Our insistence on sharing every thought or food product on the Internet while ignoring the real humans around us is pretty gross.
But a “marketing guru” who fails to recognize the advertising power of mobile devices and social media is, well, not much of a marketing guru these days. On the other hand, if you suspended your belief for Lost’s final seasons, this might not seem like much of a stretch.
Then there are Eliza’s hipster saviors, a group of tattooed ukulele-playing, book reading stereotypes meant to represent women who have real lives outside of technology. A quick look at the smartphone-focused hipster zombies roaming Greenpoint, Brooklyn, would be enough to see that social media obsession crosses all social subculture barriers. But you know, whatever. It’s TV.
That Isn’t All “Selfie” Gets Wrong
One big element that wouldn’t play well on the Internet or with Pygmalion’s feminist author George Bernard Shaw is the show’s portrayal of Eliza’s sexuality. The implication is both that she has a lot of sex and that this is part of her “problem.”
We could talk until we’re blue in the face over that tired sitcom trope. And there’s probably a decent thesis in how Pygmalion is regressively de-feministed with each fresh iteration, if universities still ask for those sorts of things.
But hey! Karen Gillan! She’s great, and not just because she was on Doctor Who. Plus, as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, she totally shaved her trademark ginger locks. So if Selfie makes it to a second season, at least we can talk about whether she’s wearing a passable weave. What’s not to “Like”?
Lead image from the Selfie trailer