I have one hard and fast rule about Fall TV season: no matter how much you may hate a pilot, it is VITAL that you make it to at least episode two. Because usually, the things we hate about pilots get ironed out during the first season. That is what first seasons are for. If the premise is good and the writing is solid, there is always room for hope. But some shows are so fundamentally flawed, so irreparably stupid that a second look only serves to draw out the inevitable and necessary cancellation. Selfie falls, face first, into this category just like Ellen said it would. Let’s break it down.
1) Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) might be the Worst, and not in a good way. I know that as one of Doctor Who‘s resident red heads, Amy Pond was kind of a polarizing character. And it is totally possible that I am projecting my dislike of The Girl Who Waited onto Eliza, a character with many of the same flaws that kept me from registering with the Amy Pond fan club (selfishness, over-confidence, tends to take others for granted). At least Amy was an interesting character; the most interesting thing about Eliza is her ability to fill two airplane yarf-bags. Which, when you think about it, really set the tone for the rest of the show.
2) Your main character should be redeemable, not reprehensible. By the end of the pilot, we should have had a reason to root for Eliza, and I don’t feel that we ever got it. Most of the attempts to add depth to her character were pretty weak (you mean, she was able to stash her distaste for the office hipster girls long enough to let them clean her apartment, loan her nice dresses, do her hair and make-up free of charge, and generally extend her an undeserved hand of friendship? What personal growth). If you are going to write horrible characters to populate your show, a la It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, at least make sure their horribleness is offset by their hilarity. Which brings me to…
3) Traditionally, TV comedies should be, you know, funny. If nothing else, Pilots should be clever enough to give audiences the idea that, even if the rest of the show isn’t prefect yet, the experience won’t be a total loss. Selfie did not make me laugh once, and I laugh at everything. Seriously. Everything.
4) Being unpopular in high school does not a tragic backstory make. Selfie isn’t the first show to try and make not being the most popular person in high school a credible excuse for sucking in the present, and it won’t be the last. TV comedies can still be fun and lighthearted even if they delve deeper than an unpleasant school dance experience. But Selfie is just as shallow as it’s main character, which is why I’ll be taking my business elsewhere. Better luck next year, ABC!