I watched the premiere of that new sitcom on ABC last Tuesday. I sat there with the same expression on my face that Broadway first-nighters had on theirs when they saw the "Springtime for Hitler" number in Mel Brooks' movie, The Producers.
The sole reason I made a point to watch the show was because of actor John Cho. I really like his work and have liked it for years. I usually don't associate him with comedy. However, I wanted to give Selfie my viewer support because rarely does network TV give a lead sitcom role to an Asian actor. The last Asian-American I can recall who got the lead in a sitcom on one of the senior three networks was Margaret Cho (no relation) on ABCs All-American Girl back in 1994. In Selfie, John Cho plays a very upscale Korean-American marketing expert. The show itself is sort of a Twitter Age-inspired version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, the classic vehicle that was famously musicalized and became Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady. Cho is in the Henry Higgins role. He tries to refine a self-absorbed and etiquette-challenged young lady. She seeks him out so she can fix her life. In Selfie, their names are Henry and Eliza. Seriously.
I sat there and said to myself "Really, ABC? You cancelled Suburgatory, Happy Endings and The Neighbors for this?" Selfie was bad enough to make me want to kick a puppy.
Nuts, puke and fart jokes in the first ten minutes of a new romantic sitcom that's heavy on the social media aspect. I'm sure the whirring sound I heard was George Bernard Shaw spinning in his grave.
I would keep the cast, replace the writers, and rethink the show. It could work. Give it the sophistication of Ugly Betty. Again, I loved the racial diversity on Selfie. That was so refreshing.
If you want to see a real beauty, rent the 1938 Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard as Prof. Henry Higgins and Wendy Hiller as poor, determined Eliza Doolittle. George Bernard Shaw wrote the script which was based on his play. It's quite a comedy of social class and reinvention. Eliza is low class, a guttersnipe, and wants to be a lady. She'll pay to improve herself. She subjects herself to Prof. Higgins' merciless refinement course. She's the angel that he will sculpt out of some common clay.