Previously on Selfie: Un-Tag My Heart.
In these two episodes of Selfie, we actually see the veneer of Henry’s perfectitude crumble a little and get to see more of his own life, both at work and at home. The trouble is, the premise of the show still stands — Henry is still giving Eliza a personality make-over. And, as we can see, when he encourages her to befriend Joan, he’s doing it by showing her his “rapport” with Larry, which is, in fact, just as fake as any of Eliza’s online interactions. So, way to go, buddy.
Charmonique steals the show — and common sense
The best single damn scene in these two episodes — hell, on the entire show so far — belong to Charmonique, who tells her high school sweetheart-turned-reverend who’s trying to school her on her “immoral” conduct having a child and not marrying the father that he can suck it. And why? Because her choices are her choices, and that’s the end of the story. She’s a good mum to her child, she went to Yale, she’s got a career, and most importantly — she’s cool with herself. The even better thing is: she accepts that how he feels is how he feels. She tells him she’s glad that he found God’s love, and that his choices are his own; but that he then must also concede that her choices are hers. She’s got self-love, and even though she spent a lot of time looking for love in other people, she now knows that true love — it’s something she’s already got. Within herself, and in her relationship with her son. Oh, and what else is great: showing that Charmonique wears wigs instead of her natural hair. In a parallel movement to what How to Get Away With Murder did in one episode, they show the trappings that black women have to deal with to be accepted. So, uh. Apparently they do know how to five women agency on this show? Since when?
Fun fact: Kevin has a toy die-cast Dalek next to his bed!
The second-best scene was Eliza’s admission that she only eats standing up because it’s an excellent excuse to get around the thing where no-one wants to sit with her at lunchtime. It’s so funny (read: not funny at all) how Eliza is incapable of opening herself to real life, but curiously unabashed and open with Henry when talking about her past as a bullied teenager. For some reason, she trusts him and manages to… slow down around him. Eliza’s always talking fast and always rotating, but with Henry, she takes a time-out every now and then. This could be really good, and Henry taking the spot opposite her at the London-themed trashcan is cute, too, because he does what a supportive friend should do — make the weirdo feel less weirdo-like. It’s fun how, in their quest to make friends with other people, they actually end up making friends with each other — what started as a relationship of convenience is budding into an actual friendship.
Why does it have to be romance?
The big, huge, gigantor red flag that’s being raised for me: yes, they made a great team when putting Kevin to bed, they made a great team bringing the vitamin elephants back into the company fold, but why-why-WHY does it have to have a romantic angle? I mean, could the show have been more unsubtle talking about their potential offspring? Could it? God, Henry’s face falling after he says that thing about Koreans with red hair, theoretically, is basically him realising he’s falling for her, isn’t it? Ugh, NO. Romance isn’t the only avenue here, dammit.
Sure, Henry is changing, too, little by little. But the premise is still that he’s reshaping Eliza into someone more valuable to others and herself, and he wasn’t doing it because they were friends already, not because he already accepted her for who she is, nor because he cared. He’s still remaking her, even now. He may be faking it, too, but at least he’s faking it successfully. The point is, even if they’re changing each other — what kind of message is that? Change a person before you can be with them? This thing began with an assignment. An assignment to change a person whose flaws were paradoxically overdrawn and whose personality had no grounding in even a shred of reality or humanity, and whose characterisation is based on a system that creates and enables being like that — but then that characterisation completely and conveniently forgets about the system.
Look, people change each other. Friends rub off on each other, they show each other different ways. It’s not changing that’s the problem, it’s the power dynamic, it’s the way it happens. If Eliza and Henry had been thrown together to work on something else, if they’d somehow bonded over something at work and had realised, oh, hey this person is cool to talk to even though they seem weird, that’d have been fun. But this? This isn’t discovering new facets about someone you already like. This is one person forcing a new code of conduct on someone else they hardly made the effort to get to know before trying to lecture them on all things real life.
These two eps weren’t as excruciatingly painful as the first two, and at least this time there wasn’t so much fake empowerment going on… hang on, there was: this “competitive friendship” between Eliza and Britt? Ugh, yeah, because two successful women can’t exist in the same space and not try to one-up one another. Hello.
And oh good, next episode’s topic is: finding Henry a girlfriend.
Tuesday, Charmonique and Eliza attempt to find Henry a girlfriend. What type of woman would be perfect for Henry? http://t.co/Sh1y3YVwZn—
Selfie (@SelfieABC) November 01, 2014
I bet the answer is: someone like Eliza. Just, you know. Post make-over.
Also, you know, Kevin is cute. But weirdly, he’s a small version of his mother, as though the writers only know the one type of black woman — the sassy trope — and didn’t know what kind of identity to give her son. Sure, Charmonique’s rebuttal of Reverend Mitchell makes her more than that trope, but I’m still worried the two aren’t going to be more than sassy foil to Eliza’s success story. Also, the flashback scene with Henry wearing… whatever the fuck he’s wearing and David Harewood’s character with those ill-advised dreadlocks: what. the. hell, man?
Next on Selfie: Even Hell Has Two Bars.