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'Selfie' fan recap: Examining the 'Selfie' pilot two years too late

Starting to watch a show that you already know has been canceled — and I’m not talking after-a-solid-five-season-run canceled, but wow-the-network-really-bailed-on-that-fast canceled — is like expiration dating. Your time together might be beautiful, but it’s guaranteed to be brief and you might just be setting yourself up for heartbreak. This series will be dedicated to watching these shows with fresh eyes and an open, breakable heart — starting with ABC’s gone-too-soon rom-com Selfie.

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired Sep 30, 2014

I remember two things very distinctly about Selfie‘s premiere: I remember its pilot getting terrible reviews and lots of hate, and I remember not caring at all and still really wanting to watch it. But I didn’t watch it. I never got around to so much as DVRing it or catching up on Hulu. And by the time I thought to, it was already canceled and it felt too late.

I know this makes me part of the problem, and I’d like to issue a formal apology, right here, right now, to the cast and crew of Selfie: I was excited about your show and bummed when I heard it was canceled, but I didn’t do my part. I didn’t tune in. I didn’t tweet or rally my Internet friends (and real-life friends) to watch the show. I naively thought “Oh, John Cho and the adorable redhead from Doctor Who are in it — it will be good and it will be on for years and I will have time to catch up later.”

But, for Selfie, there was no later, at least not in the way I imagined. Now, I’m watching the series on Hulu, becoming engrossed in it for the first time, two years too late, and with the knowledge that our time together has a firm expiration date (13 episodes, to be exact).

Now, having seen the pilot, I have to say, I don’t quite understand the bad rap Selfie got at the beginning of its run. The overwhelming consensus about the show seemed to be that it started off super shaky and got progressively better — just not quickly enough to save it from cancellation.

One criticism of the pilot that I can see is the treatment of Eliza’s sexuality. Eliza is degraded by her coworkers (and slut-shamed by costar John Cho) for her promiscuity, which sucks. It sucks that a show that aired in 2014 felt the need to lean on so-called sluttiness in establishing a flawed character. Of course, Cho’s character, Henry, certainly seems like the type who would value chastity. He’s old-fashioned by definition, ripped right out of My Fair Lady, on which Selfie was based, and I hope that he gets a bit of a modern twist as the series goes on (not that it has that much time to reinvent him — knowing that fact is one of the sad downsides of going into an already-canceled show).

Overall, though, I was pretty charmed by the Selfie pilot. Could I have done without the puke spill on the plane at the beginning of the episode? Yes, probably. Did the beginning of the episode zip by a little messily? Yeah, but they were trying to cram a lot in — here’s what Eliza’s like; here’s why she wants to change; here’s why she thinks Henry is the guy to change her; let’s actually start the changing.

And what is Eliza like? She’s a social-media maven. She’s a former middle school geek who grew up and reinvented herself in the image of the most popular girl from seventh grade. Then the times changed and that seventh-grade popularity was filtered through, well, Instagram filters. Eliza values likes and follows above all else. She’s a walking stereotype — at least on the surface.

As for why she wants to change, she has a bad flight. That’s an understatement. On one flight, she learns that the man she’s been seeing is actually married, becomes ill, throws up, has an airline bag of her own vomit explode on her — in front of all of her coworkers, also on the same flight — has to wrap herself sarong-style in airline blankets as clothes, and has pictures of the whole ordeal posted on social media. When she gets home, she texts her so-called best friends asking for comfort and ginger ale, but no one cares, and no one comes to be by her side. Eliza realizes that she wants more than likes and followers; she wants actual friends.

Fast? Yes. Messy? Yes. Effective? Also, yes. When I say effective, I mean that I buy the setup, which can be difficult for sitcoms. I buy who Eliza is and her catalyst for change (“When I was sick, not one person called to see if I was okay,” she says in a particularly sad and honest moment). And I buy her logic in recruiting Henry. At a meeting at work after the Plane Vomit Incident, the boss congratulates Henry on successfully rebranding the company’s nasal spray, which was causing Satanic hallucinations. Eliza figures if he can get people to give that a second chance, getting the world to see her in a new light shouldn’t be too hard.

The least believable thing in the Selfie pilot might be Henry’s agreeing to help Eliza. Aside from an interesting challenge and a wedding date (he’s invited and instructed to bring a date, in spite of being woefully alone in the romance department and not seeming particularly interested in changing that fact), it’s hard to see what Henry gets out of the arrangement. But he takes it on, and I’ll allow Selfie that conceit.

Where Selfie really shines is in its performances. Karen Gillan is delightful. She carries the pilot with fun voiceover (I’m a sucker for voiceover) and a sincerity that makes you believe Eliza is more than the vapid Internet star she aspires to be.

Another highlight is Eliza’s Zooey Deschanel–esque neighbor and her oh-so-twee friends. Their introduction is perfect and a shining example of something Selfie did very well, which is illustrate Internet-y things within the space of the show. As Eliza breaks down their Pinterest-y hipster vibes (nail art, chevron stripes, non-prescription prescription glasses, top-knots, Peter Pan collars, cross-body bags) and their names (Bryn, Thistle, Wren, Prue, Eyelet), all of this information is presented visually as if it’s popping off your phone and your favorites apps (except Snapchat, which wasn’t really in the game back when Selfie made its debut, because I’m sure Eliza would have done something with a Snapchat filter — and it would have been glorious).

The episode culminates in Eliza attending that wedding with Henry as his (very platonic) date. She looks dazzling and classy in a peach dress, thanks to a “make-under” courtesy of Eliza’s neighbor and her friends. During the vows, she plays a game on her phone, embarrassing herself and Henry in the process. She claims at first that she turned to her phone in boredom, but eventually admits the truth: The vows made her sad because she wasn’t sure if she would ever find that kind of love, and she turned to her phone for distraction.

So far, Selfie is more funny, clever, and most of all, more sincere than I ever would have guessed from the previews and early reviews. Here’s hoping episode two lives up to my growing expectations.

All 13 episodes of season 1 of Selfie are available to stream on Hulu.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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