Selfie S1E1 - "Pilot" Review

Meet one Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), a woman working in sales who cares a great deal about her appearance and all her social media profiles with over 263,000 followers. But following a realisation that her boyfriend is actually married while on a turbulent plane, she throws up into two barf-bags, which she later spills all over herself on her way to the lavatory. Her embarrassing moment becomes well-documented, as everyone on the plane captures it on their phones.

"Being friended is not the same thing as having friends."

Eliza realises that she needs to make some changes in her life and seeks the help of Henry Higgs (John Cho) after she sees how well he re-markets some eye drops after some bad publicity. It's not entirely clear why Henry eventually agrees to help Eliza. Perhaps he's just bored with his routine, or wants to prove that he can take on the challenge. Either way, he has quite a lot of work to do in re-branding Eliza.

For those who didn't know already, Selfie is roughly based off of Pygmalion, the play off which My Fair Lady originated. But some noticeable changes have been made to the premise, in deeper ways than just the contemporary setting. Eliza is every bit the modern woman, as she goes after Henry's help and it was her idea to begin with. We're also given an insight into her origins. Having been a bit of an ugly duckling, called "Butt," she put in the work to improve her looks. The work ethic is certainly admirable but Eliza didn't put that same work in to developing her character, or basic social skills where common decency is concerned. But these flaws are of course presented in a light-hearted way, being that this is a comedy and all.

"When I was sick, not one person called to see if I was okay."
There's a larger commentary running through Selfie, on a generation of people who are all but glued to their phones and not living their lives as they happen before them. A particularly poignant moment came when rain began to fall as Eliza and Henry are making up after a falling out (because of course it's going to rain; it's symbolic of a fresh start!) and Henry chided Eliza for trying to record her favourite sound on her phone instead of simply enjoying what's going on around her.

Eliza may be clueless about some things, but she's no ditz. Her internal monologue admits that she uses technology to cope when she is overwhelmed by her feelings. This makes her more real, while also leaving that room for her to grow and go on this journey that we will have the opportunity to watch. Karen Gillan is showing a whole new side of herself, nailing the comedic timing and fast-paced lines. John Cho's judgemental expression is enough to sell me on his performance, but everything else he does works too. There's clearly a lot more going on with Henry Higgs, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to learning more about this character. Plus, we are finally getting an Asian leading man! It's still too early to try to push these two characters into a romantic relationship together but even having that possibility brewing is so important.

Selfie airs on Tuesdays on ABC at 8PM.


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