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Tuesday, ABC premieres two sitcoms that are extremely annoying. But there is one difference among them: I want one of them to survive.
That one is Selfie (8 p.m.) which, despite its cloying introduction to the world, could just be a problematic pilot and will emerge, in another episode or three, as something that realizes its potential.
Reason for faith is that Selfie is from Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory), who has shown that she knows how to capture characters and be funny across a number of them. Here she’s got Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who) as self-obsessed Eliza, who is in desperate need of a digital detox. Eliza’s vapid — at least she is in the pilot, but perhaps will be fleshed out in later episodes — and in love with being a “social media superstar,” with 263,000 followers. Unfortunately, after an embarrassing bag of woe on an airplane goes viral, she feels the wrath of Internet scorn that she has in the past so willingly given out. She also realizes that in the real world, she has no friends.
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Obvious? Sure. A billion columns have been written about the perils of tech and the youth of America (and that would include Gillan playing an American). Being glued to one’s phone has also been the butt of jokes and PSAs everywhere.
Perhaps that’s why Kapnek takes Selfie and turns it into a modern version of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady where one of Eliza’s co-workers, Henry (John Cho) — who works in marketing while she’s in sales — gets feted for rebranding some dangerous children’s medicine, and it gives Eliza the idea that he could rebrand or reinvent her as well.
I know, it makes you wince just thinking about it.
And all of the obvious self-awareness jokes are glaring and irritating. But here’s the hope: Both Cho and Gillan are very likable actors and even manage to nail what is asked of them in the pilot playing Eliza and Henry. Kapnek knows what she’s doing. And so maybe this pilot is just an overly obvious sales tool (as pilots tend to be) and next week it will improve dramatically. I’m assuming that once Kapnek gets past making Eliza out to be a horrible person, the “rebranding” done by Henry will be more subtle, but a funny and a nice, modern rom-com will emerge.
If not, you can always skip the 8 p.m. hour and update your Instagram account.
That’s because there’s absolutely nothing happening at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. I mean, there’s a show there called Manhattan Love Story, but it’s another rom-com and this one is even more annoying than Selfie. It’s sexist and stupid and shows no signs of potential other than becoming more sexist, stupid and annoying as the weeks roll by.
Of course, the number of weeks it will be on the air is debatable.
In Manhattan Love Story, airhead and naive wanderer Dana (Analeigh Tipton) meets douchebag Peter (Jack McDorman), and you won’t give a damn what happens to them, only that they never come to your house or sit next to you at a restaurant.
The hook in Manhattan Love Story is that we get to hear the unfiltered thoughts of both characters as they blankly stare at one another. This is a terrible device because the writing is terrible, and you’ll be screaming at the both of them to shut the hell up.
At least when Eliza talks, it’s funny-ish. So, here’s to Selfie improving and Manhattan Love Story moving — away.
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