Pilot Review: Selfie

In a world of short titles that do nothing for the viewer but provide the laziest of context, “Selfie” is not the worst and it certainly is relevant. I’m willing to admit to watching a show by that name to my colleagues. But then again, I’m not known for my taste in television.

If you had a negative knee jerk reaction to the title and are thinking about skipping this half hour of programming please let me convince you otherwise.

The show’s premise is a re-imagining of “My Fair Lady” for the 21st century. Instead of the obvious of option turning a hick into a suave socialite the writers came up with something a little more unique and far more appropriate. What they give us is the story of a young, hot, internet famous girl and a workaholic man with no time for socializing.

We will follow them as he teaches her to speak without hashtags and she helps him loosen up and, I don’t know, smile. Which is really the premise of the original story. The point isn’t that an uncultured lowbrow learns how to be a lady. It’s that one person learns how to handle themselves with comportment in most social situations while the other becomes happier and a little less self-important. From what I can tell from the pilot the humor is smart, snappy, and, most importantly, approachable from multiple perspectives.

Except this show even improves on the good old story. Instead of a piece of clay as the leading actress we have someone with a personality, maybe not a great one, but at least she has enough of a presence that she can effect the leading man. (I never understood the bond that just kind of happened in “My Fair Lady”.) She even is the one who suggests the lessons in this version in a slightly messed up take charge of her life moment. This isn’t a woman who let’s her life be dictated by two men who decided to involve themselves with her on a whim of a bet. This is a woman with the potential for growth in many directions who let’s her life be dictated by one man who decides to involve himself with her because he does not like her.

Amy I mean Karen is a pleasure to watch. Maybe you recognize her from her blockbuster role as Nebula in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and if you missed her hair under all that blue paint perhaps you know her from a little know British series called “Dr. Who” as the dynamic companion of the 11th Doctor. She has the makings of a delightful leading lady without having that unfortunate character trait many lead female characters in newer half hour series have of being adorkable. And she does a commendable job of sounding like an American.

But, amazingly, I am more excited about John Cho being the leading male. I have a very limited frame of reference for him as an actor. I only saw him in the “Star Trek” reboot and in another half hour show that was cancelled, “Go On”, that I only watched for his supporting character. He is cute, he is funny, and he carries himself with power. Is his character homosexual? Is he just socially reserved and will eventually end up with his pet project? It frankly doesn’t matter because his character is someone I would hang out with hands down if he would allow me to, especially if I could learn how to casually spin rhyme like he does.

There is some potential in the supporting cast. I don’t know what’s up with their boss but at least he will be useful for pushing the plot forward. The office friend is good for being a throwaway dating option if nothing else. The neighbor is just as annoying as she is supposed to be and will provide the necessary foil, possibly making us like shallow Eliza all the more. I don’t think the entire book club is going to be enjoyable or even necessary. The supporting character I’m most excited about is the receptionist. She is brimming with charisma. I can’t tell much about most of the cast with less than 30 minutes of material to work with but they all seem vague enough to be decent plot devices but defined enough that I will probably be able to be invested in their lives.

The show officially airs at 8/7c on September 30 on ABC but you can catch the pilot and form your own opinion online at ABC or Hulu since the network put it up early to try to drum up a following.

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