If you’re going into ABC’s new comedy “Selfie” only having seen the trailer for the series, good on you for having an adventurous streak. The trailer made the show look like a culmination of everyone and everything that is annoying on social media, and if you are willing to watch “Selfie” despite that, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised. The show isn’t terrible, but it also has a long way to go to be great, or even good.
“Selfie” works as a 20-minute satire of our social media-obsessed culture, and has a beginning, middle and end that would make it work just fine as a short film. But like main character Eliza Dooley, “Selfie” starts off without any of the depth necessary to be considered worthwhile as a series.
Based loosely on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” (the most famous adaptation of which is “My Fair Lady”), “Selfie” follows image-obsessed Eliza (Karen Gillan) as she realizes she wants to be more than someone whose highest priority is not being “most butt.” She turns to her crotchety, anti-social media co-worker Henry (John Cho) to help her evolve, but learns that he needs to become a better person as much as she does. Romantic tension ensues.
If you can get passed the vomit-filled first five minutes of “Selfie,” there’s plenty of cuteness to enjoy. It especially helps if you’re a fan of Gillan’s previous work, most notably as Amy Pond on “Doctor Who,” because she works hard to make Eliza as charming as possible. The problem is that beyond the surface premise, there’s nothing more to the story. “Selfie” could end at its pilot and be complete.
“Selfie” hopefully will follow down the paths of shows like “Parks and Recreation,” “New Girl” and “Cougar Town,” which ditched their pilot-dictated premises fairly early on and let their characters grow their own stories. The problem is that none of “Selfie’s” characters stand out. Eliza’s “hipster” neighbor Bryn (Allyn Rachel) is barely more than a cartoon, while the audience is left knowing as little about front desk woman Charmonique (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) as Eliza was criticized for in the pilot.
Maybe by making its secondary characters worthwhile and moving beyond the romantic plot established in the pilot, “Selfie” could become something special. But based on the first episode, “Selfie” is a cute distraction that doesn’t encourage any return viewings.
“Selfie” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.