Selfie is one of the best new comedies this season. Yes, we know it has that title. You should still watch it.
In my initial review of the pilot, I mentioned that Selfie seemed like it had the potential to be love it or hate it with a lot of viewers. Everyone’s character seemed turned up to an 11, the show was really pushing the whole “modern version of My Fair Lady” thing, and the dialogue coming out of everyone’s mouth sounded like a parent trying too hard to be the cool mom who knows what today’s kids are into. The core performances, however, were great, and the chemistry between Karen Gillan and John Cho was enough to keep me watching to see how the show developed.
We’re only 4 episodes into the season (and, unlike other shows this fall, there hasn’t been a full season commitment yet), but Selfie has become one of my favorite new shows this year, and I’d dare say one of the best new comedies. The writers have course corrected from the pilot and brought the social media-heavy lingo down to about a 7, which is a huge help, but they’ve also taken the time to really build out the core cast of this show, including the secondary characters like Charmonique and Bryn. Like Emily Kapnek’s last series, Suburgatory, there’s an absurdist twist to the world the show’s created around itself, but it’s one that lends itself nicely to funny little asides, and the episodes have been regularly packed with little details that have me giggling.
So far the show’s episodes have each had a similar backbone – Henry gives Eliza a challenge to help her change her image, she gives him one to stop being quite as big a curmudgeon, and events ensue. In this case, I don’t mind this formula – it provides a strong framework to hang a bunch of great jokes on, and provides our characters motivation. The social media touches, as already mentioned, are feeling less forced. When I first looked at the show, I mentioned that it seemed like a great fit for a fan of New Girl and The Mindy Project and that’s still definitely true. There’s a cleverness to the comedy that rewards paying attention to everything that’s going on, and it feels like there’s a really strong comedic voice driving the show.
The performances are also helping the series find its footing now that it’s found its voice. Karen Gillan gives Eliza enough heart to keep her from being annoying, and nails the physical comedy side of the role. John Cho also fills in Henry’s character nicely, making us understand why his sometimes cranky nature hasn’t gotten him fired. Even seemingly smaller characters like Charmonique and Henry’s boss have been filled out more than other shows would have done by now, giving these characters lives and goals and, in one case, one heck of a wig closet.