Selfie is a television series created by Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory and As Told by Ginger) and based loosely on My Fair Lady. It premiered on September 30, 2014 on ABC, although its pilot was made available over a month earlier on August 20 through video-on-demand and online streaming.
The show centers around vapid, attention-hungry former ugly girl Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan), and explores her attempts to become more of an actual likable person as opposed to a person who just receives a lot of "likes" online. To do so, she enlists the help of Henry Higgs (John Cho), who works at her pediatric pharmaceutical company as a PR man (she's a hot pharma rep, the 2010s version of sexy stewardesses), to "re-brand" her. Of course, Henry isn't perfect himself: if Eliza has loose morals, he's too uptight, and while he starts out trying to help her, she might be helping him just as much.
Due to insufficient marketing and stiff time-slot competition from the likes of NCIS and The Voice, Selfie saw poor ratings and was cancelled mid-season on November 7, 2014. Shortly after, ABC announced that they would pull the remaining episodes from TV airing; they were instead released weekly on Hulu through December 30.
However, the show has gained a cult following, with critics who initially gave harsh reviews seeing its potential after watching more episodes and a sizable fan campaign being created to advocate for the reversal of the show's cancellation. TV Guide called it the "Best Turnaround" series of the decade in 2019.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Eliza often laughs way too much at guys' jokes (she realizes it's good for them and makes them feel powerful), and frequently laughs at her sex partner Freddy's jokes, even if they're not that funny. At the end of "With a Little Yelp From My Friends", Eliza's in the hospital and Freddy makes an "identify the booty" joke which Eliza laughs at. Henry shoots her a look and she says it was legitimately funny.
- All the Other Reindeer: As a teenager, Eliza was disliked for being ugly. She was even called the ugliest in her graduating class.
- Asian and Nerdy: Henry is the more grown-up, non-academic version (though he does complain about getting an employee review that amounts to a 'B' in one episode) of this trope, being an intelligent Workaholic who is good at his job and almost obsessed with it.
- Babysitting Episode: "Nugget of Wisdom" Eliza is encouraged by Henry to do something nice, which becomes babysitting Charmonique's son Kevin. The babysitting doesn't go horribly (although Eliza gets help from Henry and Charmonique), and Eliza ends up learning a little from Kevin, and Henry gets an idea that helps his PR pitch.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Eliza spends one episode trying to get Henry laid. Two episodes later, Henry is spending more time with his new girlfriend and less with Eliza, making her jealous and upset.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Inverts this, Henry is a talented worker, but his assistant Charlie is a little goofy, lanky, and not exactly on the ball. He lies and says his parents are in town to get out of work (Henry, newly on Facebook, finds out through a posted video), and when he's very willing to participate in a flashmob for a co-worker:Henry: The flashmob is off. Find Larry!
Charlie: But then I'll never get to do this. *Shoots confetti out of his sleeves*
Henry: Clean all of this up. *leaves. Beat. Comes back* Find Larry first, and then clean all this up.
- Blatant Lies: In "Un-Tag My Heart" Henry encourages Eliza to stop spending so much time on her co-worker/casual sex partner Freddy. She then instantly starts taking pictures of her cleavage with her phone for him. Off Henry's look, she claims it was for her mom.
- Captain Obvious: In his bumbling way, Charlie can be this. When Eliza is deliberately ignoring Henry, Charlie says "I think she's mad.", prompting Henry to snap "You think?"
- Character Development: The show is centered around Eliza's attempts to grow as a person with Henry's help while she helps him loosen up. Both are resistant to substantive change, however.
- After Eliza's first lesson, she's started being almost consistent in asking people (or at least Henry) how they at the beginning of a conversation, rather than talk about only herself.
- Comically Missing the Point: In "Never Block Cookies", Henry does exactly that-a cute barista at the coffee shop in the office building offers him a cookie for free, and he turns it down, not wanting the cookie, saying she's going to screw up her inventory, and totally missing that she's interested in him.
Charlie: Woah! Hob-nob.
- Also, in "Even Hell Has Two Bars", Henry celebrates in front of Terrence and Charlie about being invited to Saperstein's house because as he puts it "he only invites upper level executives who are in line for a promotion to hob nob there."
Henry: No, promotion. That's the exciting word, Charlie.
- Costume Porn: Eliza has insanely good fashion sense, combining numerous layers & styles while looking incredible in pretty much every outfit she wears.
- Curtain Clothing: After her dress is ruined midflight, Eliza fashions a makeshift sarong out of several courtesy blankets.
- Dark Horse Victory: In "Stick in the Mud", Henry and Freddy start fighting during the mud obstacle course, causing Charmonique to emerge victorious.
- Eating Lunch Alone: Eliza has been shown doing this, and she doesn't even sit by herself in the office's kitchen-she eats standing up over a trash can. Henry points out its very anti-social, Eliza says its good for her digestion. By episode's end, she admits its because no one ever wanted to eat with her in lunch, and it became a habit. Henry (who bought a trash can so she'd eat lunch in his office and with her one work friend), stands up and eats lunch across the trash can from her.
- Everyone Has Standards: One of the first sympathetic traits shown about shallow, self-centered Eliza is the fact she genuinely didn't know a man she'd had a fling with was married. Upon finding out, she becomes physically ill. Likewise, when her impassioned speech to taken Henry doesn't work, upon realising his girlfriend heard said impassioned speech, she tries to pretend they were just rehearsing a play so as not to cause friction in the relationship Henry has chosen.
- Flash Mob: Lab worker Larry loves doing these for his wife — only she hates them. After getting talked into one (and wearing three break-away suits), Henry convinces Larry to try something else, stopping the planned office one.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Eliza's Twitter followers include @trenzlore [sic] and @souffleb0y, which appeared together. Doubles as an Actor Allusion.
- Gilligan Cut: In the episode "Untag My Heart", Henry is grilling Eliza on her "relationship" with coworker Freddy. There is a direct cut revealing Eliza's lies. "Do you two ever make advance plans" "Kind of" *Cut to Eliza in bed receiving a text of 'Sup?' from Freddie. She jumps out of bed to go meet him.* "Have you and Freddy ever been on an actual date?" *Cut to Eliza dancing at a club when she gets another "Sup?" text from Freddy. She rushes out of the club* "Eliza, have you and Freddy ever even been outside together?" "For the most part" *Cut to making out in his apartment* "Does his wraparound terrace count?"
- Heroic BSoD: After her embarrassing plane ride, Eliza lays in her bathtub sick and drinking ginger ale, reaching out to her "friends"— none of whom respond.
- Homage: In "Perestroika", Eliza answers the door to the book club wearing a similar outfit and eye mask as Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The book club members were also wearing outfits that referenced Breakfast at Tiffany's since it was the theme for their breakfast.
- Hope Spot: After episodes of being attracted to each other and yet not admitting it, Eliza opens up to Henry. Henry then decides, after much thought, to leave his current girlfriend for Eliza-ending the show's UST and bringing two people who love each other together. However, Henry has a short chat with Eliza's ex Freddy, who puts the idea into Henry's head that Eliza is just running away from a relationship-his resulting lecture to her stops their budding romance and briefly ends their friendship completely.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Henry and Joan both view salads with grilled chicken as fun.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: From "Follow Through," this gem:Henry: I have to go feed my cat.
Eliza: You don't have a cat.
Henry: I have to go purchase a cat and then feed it. Generously.
- Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Her coworkers laughing at videos and photos of Eliza's airplane mishap is what forces her to reconsider her life.
- After going to a concert to a band he used to love in his youth, Henry is dismayed when Eliza shows him that a video of him dancing and singing at the concert has gone viral on YouTube. Henry tries to delete the video, causing Eliza to tell him him that he knows nothing about the Internet. His further attempts result in him tweeting the video to all of Eliza's followers (several hundred thousand).
- I Resemble That Remark!: Pretty much every time someone mentions a Korean stereotype, Henry calls him or her out on it before proving it true. Such as when Charmonique's son starts playing K-pop when Henry enters the room, causing Henry to chastise him before starting to dance. Henry himself admits that some Korean stereotypes are mostly true, such as "all Koreans like karaoke", except he himself is an exception to that one.
- I Warned You: In "Un-Tag My Heart", Eliza warns Henry about cyber-stalking his ex-girlfriends, saying its no good. Henry assures her he won't. He does, and it causes problems. When he tells her, he knows this is coming and tries to head her off.Eliza: I don't wanna say I told you so.
Henry: But you told me so. There, that's done.
- Leg Focus: Eliza's legs get shown off early in the pilot when she's in her underwear in the airplane bathroom.
- Like Brother and Sister: Henry tries to claim that he and Eliza are this in one episode. Tries. However, considering that this is the episode featuring "The Smoulder", it's obviously a lie-he quickly crumbles and says they're at least like cousins, but its clear he and the person he's talking to don't buy it.
- Loners Are Freaks: Henry's boss asks him to bring a date to his daughter's wedding, saying it's weird that Henry is always alone.
- Long List: When Henry says Eliza is probably his plus one to Saperstein's weekend summer house, she takes serious offense and lists off events she was not a plus one to.Eliza: Was I plus one at Adam Levine's Halloween party? At Avril Lavigne's Christmas party? At Sherri Shephard's purse party? At the grand reopening of the South Pasadena Victoria's Secret, which I didn't go to but to which I was invited and had I gone I would have received a free thong!? (cut to them in a buggy coming to the house) Was I plus one at Target's preferred shoppers Black Friday pre-sale? Hmm, was I plus one at Jennifer Meyer's irregular trunk sale? Was I plus one at Scott Disik's intervent-Henry: Fine, Eliza, fine.Eliza: The point is I receive plus ones, I do not be them.
Eliza: Just like...uh, Zappo's. Amazon. Gilt. Net-A-Porter, Stylebop Shopbop. Piperlime. Fab.com, justfab.com. Sephora, Bluefly, as well as cupping, leeching, elbow bleaching, and that procedure where little fish eat dead skin from all over my body.
- Eliza does this again when telling Henry what she spends her money on.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Eliza has an infamous reputation and a daft attitude, but her endearing qualities begin to surface under Henry's tutelage.
- Meaningful Echo: Eliza and Henry get invited to Saperstein's ranch for the weekend, and Henry wonders why she got invited, since he thinks he's being vetted for a promotion. Eliza points out she might be in line for a promotion, and Henry says its more likely she's his plus one. Eliza reacts vehemently, saying "I'm not a plus one. I'm VIP bitches." (prompting Henry to say, "Bitches? Its just me. One bitch") Its quickly revealed Eliza is Henry's plus one, and at the end Saperstein says he invited her because she makes Henry more life-like. Henry then says "Actually sir, she is more than a plus one. She is a VIP."
- Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe, Henry thinks the song "Working for the weekend" is about working during the weekend, not working during the week so you can have fun on the weekend. When he finds out, he says he will of course be deleting that jam off his playlist.
- Also in the song department, Henry points out that a lot of people misinterpret the song "No Woman, no cry", which isn't about not crying because you don't have a woman, its about consoling a woman and telling her not to cry.
- Ms. Fanservice: Eliza. In the pilot, we saw her stripped down to her underwear. And most of her clothes are very revealing. Of the three female leads, she's by far the most sexualized, but it's a justified example; it's just who she is, taking provocative photos, having lots of sex, and so on, while the other female leads seem to be either not interested in sex (Bryn), or with a normal sex drive, but hampered by her job and being a single mom (Charmonique).
- Mythology Gag: In "Even Hell Has Two Bars", Henry says to Eliza: "I've grown accustomed to your face."
- Noodle Incident: Whatever Larry did to the drifter offscreen, which caused Henry to feel sorry for them. A Call-Back to when Larry suggests going "Wolf of Wall Street" and doing drugs and killing a drifter.
- Not So Above It All: Henry constantly criticizes Eliza for being on her phone all the time, but the moment he opens a Facebook account it takes over his life.
- Office Romance: Eliza has slept with at least two of her co-workers. In episode 2, Henry points out he's only known her a short time and she's already been in two office relationships "and I use the term relationship very loosely."
- On a Scale from One to Ten: Saperstein asks his employees to rate how close they feel to each other, trying to encourage closeness among his work family. Eliza gets a zero from a coworker (zoned out on her phone during the meeting anyway) and spends the rest of the episode trying to work on fixing that. During his own work friendship hijinks, Henry ends up getting a zero as well (causing Eliza to butt in and elbow him, laughing that they got the same) By the end, she tells Henry she feels a six for him, and he says a 4.7, rounding up to 5, showing their growing closeness.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: During "Imperfect Harmony", Henry debates what to do about Eliza's feelings for him while Raj thinks they're discussing karaoke song choice.Raj: Have you decided what you're going to do?
Henry: No. The truth is I have never felt more conflicted in my life. On there one hand there's this...complicated, beautiful but let's be honest, slightly dangerous option.
Raj: "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani.
Henry: Exactly. And I don't know if I can pull that one off. And then there's this warm, safe familiar option that feels very non-threatening and *looks at a picture of Julia*...easy.
Raj: "Uptown Girl", by Billy Joel?
Henry: The thing is, Raj, I've been doing "Uptown Girl" my entire life. And a part of me, a big part of me wants to try something different, something out of my range. I like "Hollaback Girl" more than I should.
Raj: Its a great song.
Henry: I may have even grow to love it. And even though its scary, and uncertain and several people in this office have performed it on other occasions...
Raj: I'm told two different people did it at last year's party.
Henry Two...? Still, I would never forgive myself if I didn't try. I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna go for it, thank you Raj.
- Product Placement: After the vomit incident, Eliza has an absurd amount of Canada Dry Ginger Ale. As in, dozens of empty cans.
- Janimals are mentioned in "Even Hell Has Two Bars" and Eliza wears a unicorn one in one scene.
- Really Gets Around: Eliza is a big believer in casual sex. The women in the office suspect that Eliza's slept with a good chunk of the men in the office and her clients. She says that she only teases her clients but doesn't deny sleeping around with her co-workers and has a hard time remembering the names of past lovers. Eliza even admits that she has loose sexual morals.
- Setting Update: It's My Fair Lady in a modern-day pharmaceutical company.
- Sexy Shirt Switch: A variation in "Follow Through." After Eliza says that she's worried her work dress wouldn't work for meeting Freddy's parents, Henry offers her his coat. She makes him turn around, and it turns out she's decided to wear only his coat. Later on, having dumped Freddy, she decides she wants to return the coat to Henry.
- She's All Grown Up: Eliza is very beautiful, but she was considered butt ugly in high school.
- Shipper on Deck: Henry and Eliza's boss believes they have the makings of a power couple with exquisite children. He also specifically invites Eliza as Henry's plus one (rather than letting him choose his own), because he knows Henry is more life-like around Eliza.
- Shout-Out: In "Un-Tag My Heart" Henry comes looking for Eliza and finds her at Bryn's apartment during bookclub. A breathless Bryn asks if this is "a Jerry Maguire moment?" Another book club member complains that she's been in the club three years without one and Eliza gets one on her first night.
- Also in "Un-Tag My Heart", Mr. Saperstein shouts "Wallykazam!" as an expression of joy during an office meeting.
- In episode 3, Larry compares himself (fresh off a failed marriage) and Henry to Juan Pablo, The Bachelor.
- In the same episode, Eliza joins co-worker Joan at a dance class to try and befriend her, and they dance to the song "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul (the class is called Straight Up Now Tone Me Cardio). After, Eliza invites Joan to dinner; Joan is skeptical but Eliza wins her over with a "Please? Please? A-please please?" to the same cadence as the song. Doubles as Waxing Lyrical, and features a snippet of the song's tune as background music.
- In "Never Block Cookies", Sam Saperstein is being short with his son-in-law and employee, Terrance, which upsets Mrs. Saperstein. Sam says he always thought their daughter would marry "A strapping blue collar guy who turns out to be the Prince of Zamunda."
- Another few in "Never Block Cookies", Charmonique tells Eliza she needs to help Henry with his flirting, saying she needs to "get her Mr. Miyagi on. Wax on, wax dat ass." While going through potential dates for Henry (who Eliza doesn't like because of her own feelings for him), she says one of them is pretty "in a Flowers in the Attic kind of way. I mean, tell me she's not sleeping with her brother."
- After Eliza introduces a keynote speaker at Pharmacuticon (simply by saying "Here's this guy") Saperstein claps and says "Shine bright like a diamond."
- Also in "Here's This Guy", Julia, Henry's new girl who is rather short, is referred to as Polly Pocket, and Little Miss Muffet. Julia for her part refers to Eliza as a Jolly Ginger Giantess.
- When Freddy is telling Eliza that he wants her to spend every night at his place, permanently, she says "Boxing Helena style?", and he says "no, I don't want to keep you in a box in my apartment."
- When discussing the company 10K in "Stick In the Mud", Henry quotes the movie Prefontaine, without stating that beforehand, confusing Eliza as he refers to himself as "Steve" Higgs, before Raj sets her straight. For her part, Eliza is ignorant that "the guy from 30 Seconds to Mars" was in a movie.
- In the same episode, Charmonique mentions Eliza's sister, and Henry says that Eliza said her family was lost at sea. Charmonique says "somebody must'a Tom Hanksed her ass back to civilization."
- Another one from "Stick In the Mud", Henry and Freddy refer their rivalry in the mud run to the Rocky films ("We tied, like in Rocky 1." "Maybe we should bury the hatchet. Like in Rocky 3")
- In "Never Block Cookies", Eliza and Charmonique wants to find a date for Henry. Henry happens to be reading the book The Counterlife by Philip Roth, which features a character also named Henry who has intimacy issues.
- Statuesque Stunner: Eliza-tall, long legs, even Henry admits she's beautiful— on the outside.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: A variation. When Henry's boss tells him that he and Eliza would produce exquisite children, Henry points out that red-headed Koreans is not a good look without a so much as a fraction of a second of a pause.
- Tempting Fate: Done twice in "Un-Tag my Heart", Henry joins Facebook after being mocked about it by a few people. He initially dismisses it as "mildly entertaining, certainly not all-consuming." Cue montage of him crying at videos, picking favorite Mean Girls quote (I'm a cool mom!), finding out what Game of Thrones character he is (Sansa Stark), and being on it from night to the next morning, drinking and eating pizza.
- Eliza does this in the same episode, planning on sleeping with her casual sex partner who she's been trying to avoid (so she has the strength to avoid him more, inspired by her friend's comments about cheating on her diet). Internally, she thinks that if she really wasn't supposed to see him, the universe would send her a sign. She then immediately gets hit by a car, but because its a Smart car, she's kind of ok. She pops up, says it didn't even hurt-and then falls down a manhole.
- The Cameo: Amber Rose has a brief appearance as Eliza's friend/rival for social media supremacy, who one-ups her by getting a grill, kissing Courtney Love, and, strangely, posting a picture of picante lemon peanuts (all static pictures). She then mocks Eliza in a twitter video after Dooley's plan to comeback fails.
- Trauma Conga Line: The pilot opens with Eliza finding out her boyfriend is married, getting vomit spilled all over her, made a laughingstock by her coworkers, and finding out that none of her friends on her social networks are willing to help her.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Eliza and Henry. He professes to not being interested in her at all, but there are hints he's slowly growing to actually like her.
- In "Never Block Cookies", Eliza is trying to get Henry laid so he can relax some. She does this by asking questions about him to secretly set up a few dozen dating site profiles, which he misinterprets as interest in him. This culminates in her showing up at his house one night to give him dating tips, telling him it's "her turn" to boss him around, and that women like it when he finds an excuse to touch him, and him promptly clutching her to him in a sexual manner. After a few awkward seconds, she hurriedly leaves. She's shown to be quite picky with the dating site choices, and both she and Charmonique end up choosing a bunch of women who look like them. Also, 'Nique herself pays enough attention to Henry to guess his computer's password on the second try.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Never far from her phone, Eliza is seen dancing in a club in one episode with her phone in her bra.
- Visual Innuendo: Eliza at one point hopes to gain sex-buddy Freddy's attention by sucking on a pen, which Henry tells her is toxic.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Of a sort. After puking in two air-sickness bags during the pilot, they break open and spill all over Eliza. On a crowded plane in front of her coworkers.
- Waxing Lyrical: "Straight Up" has been quoted twice. First in the pilot when Eliza asks a flight attendant "Straight up now tell me what would you do if you were me?" Also see Shout-Out, above. Also, in "With a Little Yelp From My Friends", Henry unintentionally quotes a Biggie song and Eliza completes it, but he either doesn't get it or appreciate it.Henry: Do your research. If you want to connect with Joan, find out what her interests are.Eliza: Who she be with?
- Workaholic: Henry stays late in the office to work on marketing campaigns for his company's products. Even the research scientists find his behavior strange. He even loves the song "Working for the Weekend" because he assumes it's about working during a weekend. When someone corrects him on the meaning, he immediately deletes it from his playlist.