Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Show: Selfie, ABC, Tuesdays at 8/7c
The Pedigree: The show was created, written, and executive produced by Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory). Julie Anne Robinson (Suburgatory, Weeds) directed the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Selfie stars Karen Gillan (Doctor Who) and John Cho (Sleepy Hollow), along with Allyn Rachel (Weeds), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Good Wife), and David Harewood (Homeland).
The Premise: Selfie is a modern version of Pygmalion, in which a young woman who is popular on social media realizes she doesn’t have any real friends, so she asks a coworker in marketing to help her rebrand herself.
What Works: Karen Gillan and John Cho are both extremely charming and likeable, and they have great chemistry with each other. But that’s most of what the show has going for it — though a good cast isn’t the worst place to start, I guess, if the show is open to change. There were some hints, especially toward the end of the episode, that both characters have things to learn from the other, and that would be a better direction for the show to head. Also: it’s great to see an Asian American man in a (presumably romantic) lead role.
What Doesn’t: It’s very, very hard to do a modern Pygmalion without it coming across as misogynistic and generally terrible, and Selfie is no exception. It muddles a variety of different issues, and treats self-centeredness, use of social media, and sexual activity as a) one and the same and b) all terrible. Self-centeredness? Sure. But use of social media is not necessarily bad — to wit, the show itself has a social media campaign and doesn’t seem to recognize the irony — and there’s way, way too much slut-shaming in the pilot. There are some grains of an enjoyable show here somewhere — mainly, as I mentioned, in the leads and their chemistry — but the show would have to basically abandon its premise in order to actually work.
Our Favorite Line: “It makes you think.” “Makes you think what? I’m genuinely dying to know.”
You Might Like This if you’re a fan of Gillan and/or Cho, or maybe if you’re fond of Pygmalion adaptations, I guess. (Though My Fair Lady this is not, and that’s misogynistic enough to start with.)
If You’re Interested: Selfie premieres tonight (Tuesday, September 30th) at 8/7c on ABC.
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)