by Vivian Obarski
The Internet and television have had a history of odd interactions. While there’s been attempts to engage with Internet culture with blogs — Gossip Girl’s entire plot centered on a blog and instead of writing stories in a diary, John Watson on Sherlock uses a blog to recount his adventures — it’s always been pretty one-sided. Even Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, Pawnee’s two biggest social media addicts, are nowhere to be found on our Twitter feeds (except for a few roleplaying accounts, which are clearly not affiliated with the show)
When it comes to social media, the network sends out the information or creates a blog that relates to the show, but the interaction we have as an audience with it is like television — there’s still a fourth wall standing there.
That is until Selfie, the charming sitcom roughly based on My Fair Lady. Eliza Dooley, played by Karen Gillian, is a social media addict, tweeting about the food she eats and instagramming how she looks every day. And the interesting thing about this is that she’s also interacting with the audience. Which makes sense, given that Eliza is a social media celebrity who talks about food, fashion and random bits of the day. Bits of her tweets and Instagram photos show up on the episode for the week and Eliza retweets and replies back to people on Twitter.
I can’t think of a show that’s done this before. As I said before, there’s tons of role-playing social media accounts by fans that are similar to fanfic in that they expand universes and write stories, but in bite-sized bits. We know Eliza Dooley isn’t real, but she’s still interacting with us, as her audience. Given that the show is mostly through her point of view, it even feels like a blog entry with her voiceovers about Henry and her life.
As a fan of Selfie (check it out — it’s really fluffy and charming and Gillian and Cho generate some adorable chemistry), I find the social media portions to be really enjoyable. They’re not essential to the plot of the show, but it’s a little bit extra — an expansion of the universe if you will. The difference between this and the How I Met Your Mother websites is that Eliza’s talking back to us.
Does this mean that we’re going to be seeing more of this interaction between characters and audiences on social media? Is Michonne going to be instagramming shots of her zombie kills? I doubt that’s going to happen. But for shows that reference social media and it is part of its universe — especially to the extent that Donna Meagle, Tom Haverford and Eliza Dooley use it — it makes sense to have characters interact online. Admittedly it’s a breaking down of a fourth wall, but haven’t we seen this already with actors and writers live-tweeting during their shows? Does this mean that we’d see Donna Meagle and Eliza Dooley interact online? I don’t know, but I find the possiblity intriguing.