Plot: After being the subject of an embarrassing viral video, a self-involved 20-something (Karen Gillan) enlists the help of a marketing expert (John Cho) to revamp her image in the real world.
On the surface, Selfie seems like a shallow, forgettable show with the worst premise in the history of time and an obnoxious, trendy title. But then you realize it stars Karen Gillan and John Cho, and you’re like “Oh. Maybe I’ll check it out, but it will still probably be awful.” What you may not realize is Selfie is created by Emily Kapnek, the creator of one of my favorite sitcoms, a show that I will miss for years to come — Suburgatory. That right there should be enough to pique anyone’s interest. But if it doesn’t, allow me to enlighten you.
The premise of Selfie isn’t exactly original. Bratty, self-obsessed super-hot Eliza Dooley (Gillan) suddenly realizes her life is empty, so she asks the expert marketing exec Henry (Cho) (who has just taken a medication that caused “Satanic hallucinations” and turned it into something marketable and profitable again) if he would help her re-brand herself, so that people like her. He makes her a better person, and in turn she gets him to loosen up and actually enjoy life. There’s a very clear chemistry between them, and by the end of the pilot you’re already set up to pine after their coupledom.
I’ve always said that an idea doesn’t necessarily need to be original – it’s generally the way it’s executed that makes it stand out. And Emily Kapnek has created another TV gem with her execution of Selfie. It’s smart, witty, and full of a genuine heart that 90% of TV shows never see. The references to social media are not out of place or annoying – they are intensely clever and fit perfectly into the Selfie universe. In between the cliche “boy meets girl and they come together in the most unlikely of circumstances” plot, the show manages to serve as intelligent commentary on the current state of our society – not necessarily condemning it, but just opening our eyes to it, and showing how absurd current culture really is. Selfie has that in common with Suburgatory, and I’m confident this commentary will continue to offer us great comedic moments.
Of course, Kapnek’s writing soars here and serves as a strong foundation for the show – But I must also acknowledge just how perfect the cast is. Nobody stands out, because everyone from the stars to the smaller characters are perfectly cast and have a great sense of comedic timing.
I may be over-selling the pilot a bit, but just know that it is worlds ahead of most sitcom pilots, and it was completely delightful. I’m excited to see where this season can take us. And with the show being just a tad bit less weird than Suburgatory, I’m hoping Selfie can cast a bit of a wider net and stay on the air for years to come.
(Watch this show please.)
Marla Pachter is a comedic writer, obsessed with all things television. She doesn’t discriminate against TV shows, which either results in pleasant surprise or an eviscerating review for your reading pleasure. Marla loves Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine, and she will probably be watching new seasons of Grey’s Anatomy until she’s 90. Sometimes she writes TV shows herself, but they don’t air on television. She also likes big butts and she cannot lie. (That was a lie). @MarlaPachter