Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Selfie 1.01: Pilot

NOTE: This post was written based on ABC's online preview of the "Selife" pilot. Some things have been significantly changed for the broadcast version. On the positive side, Henry's creepy/annoying coworker/friend has been edited out. On the negative side, the final two scenes were refilmed to be much less subtle, and Henry doesn't say he has as much to work on as he did in the original version.

“When I was sick, not one person called to see if I was okay. And I don’t know why. People used to hate me because I was butt . . . I’m not butt anymore.”

“Selfie” has a highly unfortunate title. There really isn’t a term in modern vernacular that grates on my nerves more. It has, however, actors I tend to enjoy. Karen Gillan (Amy Pond on “Doctor Who”) and John Cho (of the “Harold and Kumar” movies, “FlashForward,” “Sleepy Hollow,” and many other things) star as vapid pharma girl Eliza Dooley and marketing expert Henry respectively. Also, as you might have been able to tell from those character names, the premise of the show is loosely based on “Pygmailion”/”My Fair Lady.” I’m a big fan of theatre and musicals, and this story is a favorite. I enjoy watching updates of classic stories, like BBC’s “Sherlock,” because I like seeing the creator’s thought process in how to modernize some of the specifics of the story. So, despite the pretty terrible title, I’m up for giving “Selfie” a shot.

Like I said, Eliza is a vapid pharma girl who works for a pediatric pharmaceutical company. As she tells us early in the episode, she was a loser in high school who was voted “Most Butt,” so she transformed herself into a social media obsessed wanna-be celebutante. She’s got a ton of “friends” on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but as she finds out, she still doesn’t have any actual, real life friends. This comes into especially sharp relief when Eliza and a bunch of her coworkers are flying home from a conference. Eliza is being her usually vapid self, getting an upgrade to first class and rubbing it in the face of some other pharma girls. Also, Eliza discovers that the coworker she had been fooling around with is actually married (everybody else knew it before she did, of course).

A combination of turbulence and humiliation at dating a married man leads to a severe bout of air sickness for Eliza. As she is taking her sick bags back to the lav, the bags break and vomit flies all over her outfit. Her fellow passengers take to social media with gusto to document the moment. When Eliza finally makes it home and treats herself to a soak in the tub, she realizes that she has absolutely no one in her life. She’s out of ginger ale and needs to find a grocery store that delivers. The situation is pathetic, and Eliza knows it. At the staff meeting at work the next day, Henry is praised for rebranding their nasal spray after it was discovered that said spray causes Satanic hallucinations. Eliza wonders if Henry might be able to rebrand her, too.

Henry is a bit dubious about Eliza’s request at first, but eventually he agrees. Henry is, if I may say, kind of an ass. Most of what he does all episode is complain about how everybody is too distracted by electronics these days. He constantly preaches about how he hates living in a city that only values digital connection. Despite being an ass, however, he does have some valid points about Eliza’s behavior. His first lesson is to get Eliza to ask other people how they are instead of just constantly going on about her own drama. He tries to get Eliza to ask the company receptionist, Charmonique, how she is, and it’s horribly awkward.

The president of the company (who is kind of horribly awkward himself and seems to kind of have a thing for Henry) has a daughter who is getting married, and he wants Henry to come to the wedding. Beyond that, he wants Henry to come with a date. He thinks it’s weird that Henry is by himself all the time. Being kind of a loner myself, I’m not sure how I feel about that! Henry decides that for her next lesson, Eliza is going to be his date to the wedding. He gives her rules on how she should dress, all in the form of a sort-of rhyming poem. Not sure how I feel about that, either. Anyway, Eliza’s credit cards are maxed, and she doesn’t have any clothes that meet Henry’s dress code, so she begs for help from her neighbor Bryn. Bryn is clearly meant to be a Zooey Deschannel caricature, and she and her book club friends Eyelet and Wren are kind of amazing. I really identify more with Bryn than I do with Eliza. Is that sad? Bryn says that make-unders are her specialty, and the whole group sings Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (complete with ukulele) as they work.

Eliza’s wedding look is a hit. The wedding itself is kind of a disaster. Eliza watches the bride recite a very long (and very dumb) poem to the groom, and she starts to wish somebody would look at her the way the groom is looking at the bride. It takes her right back to her unpopular high school days. Eliza tells us that when she’s feeling vulnerable, she hides behind her phone. We get an awesome, perfect late 90’s – early 2000’s school dance flashback (shout out to my fellow class of 2002 folks) with the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” playing and Eliza playing snake on one of those little blue Nokia cell phones. In the present day, Eliza starts playing a game on her smart phone, and it makes noise, interrupting the wedding. After the ceremony, Eliza and Henry have quite an argument, with Eliza accusing Henry of being “unfun” and “a cockscomb,” and Henry accusing Eliza of being a lost cause. That last one hits Eliza hard.

The next day after work, Eliza has a nice conversation with Charmonique’s son, and then Charmonique herself. Charmonique remarks that this is the first time they’ve ever talked about anything other than Eliza’s drama, so whatever Henry is doing is working. Eliza runs to Henry’s house to tell him the news, and it starts to rain. At first, Henry is not at all happy to see Eliza. Eventually, though, they come to an understanding that they both have things the other can help them work on. Henry can help make Eliza more considerate of others, and Eliza can encourage Henry to live life instead of always sheltering himself.

No comments:

Post a Comment