Selfie

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Selfie TV Poster Image
So-so sitcom shows teens downside of social media excess.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series shows the uglier side of "instafame" through Eliza's social media-induced identity crisis. Many characters use social media to tease or harass coworkers and peers, but it's apparent that virtual images are precarious at best. Positive messages suh as "Being friended is not the same thing as having friends" are spelled out for viewers, and both Eliza and Henry learn the importance of meaningful human relationships. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Eliza is a social media darling, but her contrived image doesn't translate well to the real world, which exposes her vanity and shallowness. Slowly she comes to understand the difference between friending and friendship, and her personality changes in positive ways. Despite being her polar opposite, Henry also lacks personal relationships and is inspired by spending time with Eliza. To their credit, both show a willingness to change.  

Violence
Sex

Some kissing, including an awkward moment between men. References to Eliza's past promiscuity and some sexual humor ("no butt stuff").

Language

"Hell," "ass," and "sucked," sporadically.

Consumerism

Constant references to various social media venues, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also mention of Google, tweeting, and hashtags, and some phrases from the dialogue appear in hashtags on the screen. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking at celebrations or meals, but without ill effects. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Selfie is a sitcom that explores the downside of social media and virtual images through a character whose online popularity takes a hit after an embarrassing video of her circulates. The show presents her behavior much like an addict's and follows her attempt to recover from her obsessive need for Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Its messages are solid -- illustrating for viewers the difference between virtual friends and real ones, for instance -- even if they are a bit overt for the adult crowd. Expect some mild cursing ("hell" and "ass"), sexual references, and other adult behavior (drinking at social events) that shouldn't rule out teens from a show with some great talking points about online safety.  

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What's the story?

Determined to put years of being a social outsider behind her, Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan) turns to social media to reinvent her image and now happily boasts that she's loved by 263,000 followers. But when an embarrassing incident becomes a viral sensation, Eliza learns that virtual fame is fickle at best and that real friends are a rare commodity. Desperate to strike a happy medium, she enlists the help of her coworker Henry (John Cho) to once again "rebrand" herself (a modern My Fair Lady initiative). Henry's initial hesitation to help Eliza, whom he considers a lost cause of narcissism, eventually gives way to a surprising affection as she slowly learns how to relate to people. What's even more surprising, though, is how the experience affects him.

Is it any good?

SELFIE is a comical commentary on our app-crazed modern society as it's represented by the excessively shallow Eliza. One hopes that her narcissism is the exception rather than the rule, of course, but it's hard to watch her obsessive posting, status checks, and, yes, selfies and not consider how your own digital behavior might compare. Even at lesser levels, there's no arguing that social media has changed how we present ourselves and how we relate to other people, and this show attempts to weigh the benefits of this shift against the potential damage it's done to interpersonal relationships.

Even so, Selfie seems geared more toward teens than adults, who will quickly tire of being smacked in the face by its glaringly obvious messages. It doesn't hint at its themes; it spells them out in insightful dialogue that gives the story an air of repetition even as it delivers some really decent substance. The characters' foibles are entertaining to watch, and it's hard not to feel some sympathy for Eliza. If nothing else, this series is a lighthearted way to start a conversation with your teens about the ups and downs of social media. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the draw of social media. What entices users to share their experiences on sites such as Facebook and Instagram? Are there benefits to doing so? In what ways does it facilitate relationships with friends and family?

  • Teens: Do you believe everything you see online? How does social media allow users to create facades? Does this put new pressures on you to maintain a certain image in person? 

  • Talk with your teens about your family's rules for the Internet. What kinds of things are not appropriate to share online? Is anything online really private? What constitutes cyberbullying?

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