Selfie’s second episode left me no less confused about my feelings toward the show. It toes the line between self-aware irony and obnoxious stereotyping, and it’s a really, really blurry line. The focus of the episode was split between Eliza’s hook up habits and Henry’s totally uninteresting first experiences with Facebook. Not two minutes into the beginning of the episode, Eliza’s being ridiculed by her coworkers for her alluring attire and for flirting with another office random named Freddy. She’s certainly not being office appropriate, but the women seemed less concerned with company image than they were with gossiping. It’s also officially established that Eliza does intentionally use sex appeal to succeed in sales. Eliza exudes power and confidence with that admission, while everyone she works with seems disgusted by her. Eliza even acknowledges Henry’s “slut shamey” attitude when he’s shocked that she’s in a sexual relationship with a man she’s known for about two weeks. So Eliza definitely isn’t being painted as dumb, she knows what she’s doing and that’s good. When Henry encourages Eliza to try to become more than a booty call to Freddy, she knows that she’s fine with the status quo but she’s curious whether or not she really has what it takes to be in a more serious relationship.
So as a character, Eliza really does seem genuine. The trouble for me is how shallow and judgmental every other character in the show is. Degrading comments and foul looks surround Eliza wherever she goes, which Eliza takes in stride with her belief that gathering haters means you’re doing something right. But the way the show presents this external view of Eliza isn’t so much an effort to sympathize or anything, it’s a way to ridicule her. It’s a one-way interaction, we never see Eliza respond to the derision since it’s always behind her back, and we never see any indication that what’s happening behind her back is wrong. It’s supposed to be funny. It’s as if the show is trying to make us think that we’re really not supposed to like her – but it only ever offers the shallowest of reasons. As I’ve stated before, Eliza is not at all a deeply flawed character, which means that any attempt to set her on the inevitable journey of re-invention is going to send the wrong message.
Henry’s addictive Facebook excursion, while ultimately boring, showed a nice potential for growth down the road. He realizes that he’s been married to his career and has always passed up chances to settle down and start a family. He’s pretty disconnected from the rest of humanity, and I did like that while he decided to delete his Facebook account in the end, he was inspired to check up on old friends in person. Heartfelt growth like this is where I feel like Selfie could excel. The problem is that it’s being pushed as a comedy show, and what I realized last night is that once you get past the initial premise, Selfie really isn’t funny. It fails to deliver any actual laughs, at best it’s just silly. Especially John Cho’s fake crying. There’s a lot of appearance-based humor, too. Maybe that’s funny to some people, but it’s lazy to me. Even the social media aspect was lame this time around. Henry gets seriously ridiculed for not having Facebook and that just doesn’t happen in real life.
As a comedy, Selfie’s line delivery feels too scripted, lacks the human element, and fails to capitalize on what makes it unique. There was even an opportunity for slapstick humor when Eliza fell down the manhole that got kind of squandered by Eliza’s voice over and bad timing. However, this episode showed strength in the growing development of both Henry and Eliza. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that, and hopefully less of Bryn and her gang of overtly garish pseudo-hipsters. Much, much less.