Selfie, “A Little Yelp From My Friends”

JOHN CHO, KAREN GILLAN

Selfie continues to move forward with its third episode, but the show still struggles to find its footing. The episode’s intro featured very nice infographic effects as Eliza gets ready in the morning. That is something I would like to see more of from this show, and we do get some more clever perspective tricks with the episode’s focus on Yelp. For a show about internet culture and social media apps, there needs to be more of that stylized feeling.

This week’s episode got a few more laughs out of me, but I still believe humor value is far from the show’s strong point. Here’s a quick run-down of what this episode had to offer in the funny department:

  • Eliza drifting off during one of Henry’s rants (actually very funny, thanks to the performance of two wonderful actors with great chemistry)
  • A blind joke about seeing “endless night”. Contrived, lazy, uninspired, and way random.
  • Eliza slurping Joan’s leftovers. Actually disgusting, total cringe humor.
  • Charmonique, a sassy black woman trope instead of a legitimate character.
  • Eliza’s impromptu dance routine was actually fantastic.
  • Most characters besides Henry and Eliza are completely insane.

No, really. The conference room scene was essential to building Henry and Eliza’s workplace, but everyone they work with is nuts. That’s where a lot of the humor is trying to come from: everyone is just weird. And not the quirky, awkward, “The Office” kind of weird.  Saperstein tells Larry to clutch Henry’s face and rate on a scale from 1 to 10 how close he feels to him. Henry is obviously uncomfortable, and so is the audience. This launches Henry’s misadventures with Larry as he attempts to befriend him at his boss’ request.

Similarly, Eliza’s assignment from Henry this time is to befriend their co-worker Joan after she rates Eliza a “0”on the closeness scale, because she’s too busy staring at her phone. So, Henry tells her to spend less time on her phone and more time forging real-life connections with people. So, with Charmonique’s sage advice and blatant “mmmmmmHMM”s, Eliza stalks Joan on Yelp to find out what she likes, and ends up at the same dance studio she frequents. What results is a hilarious choreograph courtesy of Gillan, and a blossoming friendship built on internet creeping.

There was a moment where I felt Selfie was dancing dangerously close to losing sight of Eliza’s original goal. It starts to feel like the story becomes less about Eliza’s desire to re-brand herself and more about Henry giving her arbitrary orders based on whatever he’s displeased by. Only a moment, though. The show swung around and found its heart by the end of it, mostly because of Henry’s experience with Larry. His situation gets worse as Larry becomes convinced he needs to throw a flash mob in order to win over his wife, or ex-wife, whichever. He enlists Henry and refuses to let him sleep in order to flesh out “their plan”. Thankfully, Henry talks him out of it and convinces him to go with a smaller gesture.

Eliza’s efforts to befriend Joan take a dive when she reveals she knows about her husband’s oregano allergy. Confusingly, this is the red flag that lets Joan know Eliza stalks her Yelp, considering Eliza had been reciting Joan’s reviews word for word, but whatever. Eliza and Henry reunite both feeling defeated in their attempt to connect with their co-workers. In a surprise turn, and the highlight of the episode, Henry and Eliza show that they do have successful office friendships – with each other. While eating over the new telephone box trash can Henry bought for Eliza (Doctor Who reference?), they rate how close they feel. Eliza, 6, Henry, 4.5 rounded up to 5. It’s exactly this kind of casual, yet begrudging, charming honesty that is the reason I keep watching. While I think that John Cho and Karen Gillan deserve better than Selfie, and while I hope Selfie starts to deliver an all-around better experience, the two performers bring undeniable heart to the otherwise off-kilter structure of the show. We’ll see where it goes.

Best part of this episode though? Not a single sight of Bryn or her goons.

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