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Selfie: Why It Sucks That This Sitcom Got Cancelled


I once reviewed a movie called Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. It was a hard sell. I mean why wouldn't it be with a name like that? Doesn't exactly induce excitement in the average punter does it? Well it turns out the movie was a really interesting and very cute romance comedy-drama with terrific characters and acting that I recommend everyone gives a chance. The same goes for the unfortunately-named American sitcom that I am digging up today - Selfie. The reason for the digging metaphor is because Selfie unfortunately ended after only one season when ABC pulled the plug on it prematurely like the Kings of canning good shows that they are (case in point Nashville). But why was it cancelled? Well, it was due to bad ratings, but some believe it was the name and poor marketing that was stopping it from achieving better ratings... and I have to agree with them. "Selfie" is a word with a lot of stigma behind it. It is mostly associated with narcissistic "millennials" who spend their lives glued to the social media world inside their phones and most definitely isn't a name that effectively encapsulates anything media-related that carries even a drop of integrity. If I was scrolling through my TV guide and saw this show I would probably just ignore it assuming that this show could be nothing more than something trashy created by a bunch of 50 year old suits in an office cashing in on a buzzword that their son or daughter mentioned once at dinner but will be excluded from history books in eons to come with extreme prejudice. But if people actually gave Selfie a chance, they would see that it is a show that is full of deep character, in contrast to the shallow nature associated with the self-portrait photographs it is named after. 

An example of how the show's introduction focuses a little too much on Selfie culture.

While the first minutes of the pilot episode give off an idea that the show is quite obnoxious in nature (complete with that horrendous "#SELFIE" song by The Chainsmokers) everything quickly corrects itself and you are presented with a relaxed, bubbly comedy in the vein of shows like New Girl or earlier episodes of Community (even the theme song takes a chill pill when it is introduced in the second episode, opting for a more laid-back artier piece). Once all of that is out of the way we are given a breather and a chance to take in the story. The premise of Selfie presents an age old, but (in my opinion) always effective formula of opposites attract. Eliza Dooley, played by Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy) is a woman obsessed with the idea of achieving fame through the use of social media platforms, but soon realises that the likes she receives and the friends she has online is not a substitute for real friendship. To get herself back into the real world, she seeks the help of Henry Higgs, a marketing image guru at the company in which she works, who is played by John Cho (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, American Pie, Star Trek). Despite the one-sided nature of their agreement initially, the two soon find that they can in fact help each other. While Henry helps care-free Eliza with improving her manners towards people and her immature behaviour around the office, she returns a helping hand by getting him away from his isolated overly-serious life and into the modern world. It might sound just like a modern equivalent of classic musical My Fair Lady (the tongue-in-cheek names of the main characters even pay tribute to this) but I can reassure you that Selfie is much more than just a copy and paste job with a new coat of paint. Selfie is a story about accepting each other no matter how different we may be in order to better ourselves while at the same time encouraging us to recognise the things that we're good at in order to help others in need. Okay, okay, maybe I've read a little too much into it, but watching these completely contrasting characters overcoming their differences to assist each other in the everyday troubles that they both face is really a joy to watch.

Eliza accompanies Henry to a wedding as an "experiment".
 
My biggest reason for loving Selfie is that the scripting is just wonderful. Whenever Eliza and Henry are the main focus of the scene, their back and forth conversation is just hilarious. Sometimes you don't need to force in cheap one liners or canned laughter when your characters are well written and their relationships with one another are well established. In Selfie both Eliza and Henry are set out in plain sight right from the beginning: you know who they are and what they are like as individuals - so when they are put in a room together, these opposing sides are guaranteed to make some really great scenes happen. Eliza is self-obsessed and opinionated while Henry is tightly wound and old-fashioned, but these flaws are what make them such a joy to behold. Think of it like that group of friends you have that are always winding each other up and doing dumb things and you think to yourself "oh what are they like?", but really you love them and find them hilarious anyway... well that is what it was like watching Selfie, because just two episodes in I found Karen Gillan and John Cho's respective characters so easy to love.

Eliza trying to justify to Henry why she favourites hater's tweets on Twitter.

The situations that the pair find themselves in whether it be separately or individual are pretty simplistic, but creative and hilarious at the same time, like in the third episode where Eliza tries to use social media to stalk a fellow colleague that Henry has challenged her to try and befriend despite their differences in the workplace. Not finding her older colleague on any form of social media, she resorts to stalking her reviews on Yelp in an attempt to find out things they can talk about before proceeding to pretend like she enjoys aerobics and has extensive knowledge about how well-stocked a particular gas station is that she's never been to. Meanwhile across town, Henry finds himself consoling a fellow colleague who has just broken up with his wife and trying to wean him off the idea of getting her back by means of a flash mob. There's never a dull moment in Selfie.

Eliza dresses vintage in order to blend in and make friend's at her neighbour's book club, despite having only read 8 pages of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

The overall atmosphere of the show is playful and not overly-serious while at the same time adding in some heart warming moments, which makes it a perfect show for anybody in need of some lifted spirits, or for anyone who just fancies something that will make them smile. Just like any decent sitcom it is very easy to watch while at the same time presenting you with interesting scenarios that keep your mind occupied making it more than just background television (you know, like the sitcoms they show on repeat on E4 that you just leave on in the background because its more interesting than cooking your dinner in silence). I also prefer the fact that the show is not shot in the traditional sitcom-style (e.g. The Big Bang Theory, Friends), on repetitive sets using multiple-camera setups and canned laughter that make you feel like you are some fly on the wall looking in on some kind of alternate reality. Selfie is a single-camera comedy that properly immerses you into the day to day goings on of the characters, making you feel like you are close enough to be in the room with them.
The show seems at first to be leaning towards trying to capture the attention of a predominately female audience, with its main character and occasional narrator Eliza being what some might stereotype as a "girly girl" who reveals all, but we soon see that Henry does exactly the same service for the guys. Sure, the show discusses more personal feminine things that are more likely to make girls laugh because of how relatable they are, but that is always balanced by things that guys can also relate to. Just like the previously-mentioned New Girl, this show is very much suitable and relatable for all genders.

Eliza and Henry. Gone but not forgotten.

It is easy to try and tell myself to turn my back on a show like Selfie and focus my attention towards something that didn't get cancelled, but that's just not me. I often joke that I am drawn towards obscure pieces of media whether it be games or movies, but I like to think that I am drawn to unrealised potential. I like to seek out the kind of stuff the world didn't give the chance to shine. Unfortunately in the case of people like myself who fell in love with this wonderful sitcom, they already saw that it did shine and very brightly; ABC just didn't give it the chance to continue shining. I only discovered it recently and it felt weird watching a show that I knew was already cancelled. I unfortunately had to hold myself back from binge watching its 12 episodes all at once. But that's just how good they are, and it's nice to see that I am not alone in this opinion. What I saw while researching this show for this article were people commenting things on YouTube videos and news articles all along the lines of "don't let the name fool you, this show is amazing", and it wasn't just once or twice, I saw this many times in different comments sections on various websites and many were expressing sincere disappointment that the show was cancelled. There was even a petition signed by 65,761 people who all wanted the show to be saved. Unfortunately nobody wanted to pick it up. And so the saga of Selfie ends, and it is an absolute shame. I think if this show had continued it could have really become one of the shows I would have always made sure to catch up with as time goes on, and it's so annoying that something as simple as the show's name could have been the main reason it didn't get the ratings it deserved. 
I wanted to believe that my praise for this show was mainly through rose-tinted spectacles brought on by the fact that no more seasons will ever be produced, but writing this article allowed me to sum up why I have a soft spot for this show. Sure, some shows suck, and get cancelled for a reason, but Selfie is definitely a diamond in the rough of cancelled shows that didn't deserve the fate that it met. But it will always live on in the hearts of those who enjoyed it, so I recommend that you consider checking out Selfie the next time you fancy something to watch. Despite it's short-length, if you are a fan of well-written, quirky romance sitcoms, I guarantee that you'll love every minute of it. I'll even accept blame when you finish the last episode wishing there was more.

I rate this cancelled show an "ABC are colossal douches" out of 10.

 
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