The trailer above seems to indicate that incoming ABC sitcom Selfie is every bit as shitty as you'd assume: An awful title reminiscent of embattled shows like Cougar Town, Trophy Wife, The Good Wife, GCB, and so on. Karen Gillan's natural Scottish burr hiding in plain sight, throwing off sparks of cognitive dissonance and irritation not seen since Phoebe Tonkin first arrived on our shores. Barrage of mortifying five-minutes-ago and never-minutes-ago "teen internet jargon" that your mom will be texting you in the next week as though it is how people talk or have ever talked. Seemingly anti-Kardashian themes for a culture that has cycled through the smarm and snark of that crap so many times you wouldn't be surprised at this point if Paris Hilton showed her ass back up. But:
John Cho, first of all. Creator Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory, Emily's Reasons Why Not), second of all. And did you notice that all of those shows with the bad titles above are only notable because of their devoted, often markedly feminist fanbases? Or, if you've seen any one of them, the surprising quality of all or most of them? The first take is not always "the" take. It could be correct, sure. That trailer gets even more irritating the more you watch it. The title is, at the end of the day, still a slap in the fucking face.
But let me ask you this: If you'd never seen Suburgatory, only snippets of Carly Chaikin's tremendous (in context) performance of Dalia Royce, you'd think that's what that show was about. If you only got clips of Samantha Who?'s Evil Samantha, before her brain injury, with no context in the show's mechanics for that lady, you'd think the show was about a bitch. You'd be wrong in both cases.
It seems to me that a show (created by a woman, specifically) tackling #selfie (aka actually just #modern) culture through the lens of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady—in which the only "lesson" is empathy and the narcissism is explicitly coming out of trauma—couldn't be more timely. I mean, we don't know, and we can't know yet. But the more I think about how, say, a Suburgatory episode might tackle 'Enry 'Iggins—wiping out all the paternalism and infantilization to reveal the hidden prices and tricky procedures of becoming a human being; Eliza giving as good as she gets; everybody learns a lesson—it starts to feel like maybe the best show ever made.
So we'll see. I have a feeling the reason ABC's released the pilot early is because of the swerve into horrifying that the marketing took. They have to stand behind their project, sure, and market it to the worst people, which is why advertising in general is misleading if you actually like things, but in this case maybe presenting it upfront is the wisest strategy. Let's watch it and find out?
(Trigger warning for a duckface montage set to "#SELFIE" within, um, the first second of the pilot. Not hugely encouraging.)