Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Selfie: “Follow Through”

Image for article titled Selfie: “Follow Through”

“Follow Through” has quite the follow-through. I’d start at the end, but due to the strange distribution situation—unlike last week, Hulu wouldn’t let me access the new episode without Hulu Plus, for instance—I’m happy to give some warning to Selfie fans who are reading this before watching the episode. This episode is a turning point.

It’s strange how early things start shifting. First it seems like an episode about getting Eliza to build up her confidence enough to claim her ideas in front of Mr. Saperstein. But one obstacle later, Henry personally walks her to Mr. Saperstein’s office so she can pitch her great idea. It sounds condescending, and it’s the kind of thing that someone might bristle at in a pilot. But Henry and Eliza’s relationship has grown so much that he’s a friend more than a mentor. They can be more involved in each other’s lives. Anyway, Eliza sells Saperstein on using diaper cream for your face. She also decides to take advantage of her social media presence to spread the word about using this KinderKare product for an unintended purpose. Before you can say, “Why wasn’t she doing that already?” Mr. Saperstein gives her an attaboy: “Miss Dooley, if I had my druthers we’d squirt diaper cream on the face of every woman in this country whether she liked it or not.”

Next Eliza starts to take her work home with her, which could go both ways. On the one hand, Henry takes it as a sign she’s finally taking work seriously, but on the other, look at what workaholism has done to Henry and Julia. But, while Eliza’s newfound joie de labor does seem like a lasting change, at least to some degree, the episode isn’t even about that.

All the while Eliza’s been concerned about maturing in another way, in her relationship with Freddy. After a scene of them sitting in bed staring at their screens, Freddy hits the hay on his own. It’s the first time they’ve slept together without sleeping together. Charmonique tells Eliza they’re just maturing (“Every relationship is different, but none of them are different, yes?”). So maybe this episode about Eliza dealing with an adult relationship for a change. She’s going to meet his parents, after all. These are a lot of big changes in a single episode, but they could all probably fit under the umbrella of “sitcom reality where character gets serious for a single episode.”

Speaking of meeting the parents (like in that movie, Meet The Fockers), the way “Follow Through” expands the world of Selfie reminds me of Suburgatory. Selfie won’t get the chance to build on that progress, but clearly it’s building infrastructure already in a way other shows at this stage of development (A To Z) aren’t. Nine episodes in, we meet Freddy’s parents, develop Wren and Prue a bit, and connect Bryn’s book club group to the KinderKare by way of an artisanal farm conference table food concept lorem ipsum business with a shared equity structure. Now, Freddy’s parents, Brandon and Maisy or Maisin Bran, might not ever need to come back, but they’re there if Selfie needs them. There is a world around the main characters. I hope Freddy sticks around just because he’s funny—“Why do people favorite when they can retweet? Nut up, dude. My mom’s such a coward”—but “Follow Through” makes a persuasive case against that: How can Selfie expect us to sit through this guy laughing and eating bread in the future?

The real masonry is in shoring up the book club group in Henry’s subplot. Wren in particular turns out to be pretty passionate. She falls for Henry quickly, bonds with him over the superior Little Women ending (Jo and Laurie getting married), hides in the shadows of his office hoping to hook up with him at lunch, and then declares war when Henry rejects her in that stilted way of his (“I learned in my women’s studies seminar that no one likes to be falsely encouraged. So I must respectfully express that I am not interested in forging a romantic convergence. With you”). Bryn tells him, “It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it,” and Henry whimpers in despair. Was he home-schooled? Naturally Henry makes it up to them in the end, apologizing to Wren and cockily continuing an inside joke with Bryn (“Oh, and one more thing. Bryn, for someone with such a large welcome mat, you aren’t very welcoming. Burn returned, m’dear”) that bounces right off her.


It’s a rich little subplot that fleshes out characters and relationships, but there’s a plot parallel too. How do you tell someone you’re not romantically interested? That is part of what’s going on with Eliza. She’s having a How I Met Your Mother glass-shattering moment with Freddy. Now that she’s spending time with him where she’s focused on him without hooking up with him, she’s noticing all his annoying habits. It’s rushed, because there are so many new developments in these 22 minutes, but also because Eliza’s Lucy now. She’s beyond Feddy and doesn’t have time to think about him.

What’s really going on is a sort of awakening. Eliza sees Freddy more clearly now. She sees people staring at screens more clearly now, and she’s sad about it. That might be a clue not to take everything at face value. Eliza’s worldview isn’t getting richer. It’s just as simple, only on the other side. If there’s one lesson from Suburgatory to apply here, it’s that Emily Kapnek and company are good at playing complicated events in a certain simple way and slowly revealing how complicated they are.


Most of all Eliza sees Henry more clearly. He’s her closest friend, and she appreciates the impact he’s had on her life. So she dumps Freddy—in a way so non-comically rude that it can’t be ignored, another wrinkle in the romantic scrim—and rushes to the office. She and Henry pass in the elevator, him on and her off.

“How did it go with Freddy?”

“Exactly like it was supposed to.”

She doesn’t clarify. It’s the first of a few times the scene looks like it’s going to get away from them. But, just as Henry taught her, Eliza follows through. She wants to return his coat, which is basically her only layer. The Diamonds’ “Stroll” starts playing, she makes a show of removing the coat, and he just stands there subtly reacting. It’s a breathless sequence. He’s too overwhelmed to think. “I have to go feed my cat,” he says. When she points out he doesn’t have a cat, he says, “I have to go purchase a cat and then feed it generously.” Laurie is unavailable. But in this case he’s very interested.


As Eliza collects the coat and walks off, she leaves us with a sting. “Henry and I are going to be together,” she says. “Or else.” Leave it at the first part, and you could well take this entire episode as progress. But there’s no mistaking that second part. However magical the moment is, the writers know it’s complicated. Selfie was never all surface.

Stray observations:

  • Great corporate jazz trio of Saperstein, Henry, and Eliza. The men lay out a plausible jazz background, and Eliza “French horn”s “Don’t really know what the French horn sounds like.”
  • At lunch, Saperstein sets up some “I don’t know such and such, but I do know you’re doing a good job” kind of praise: “Henry I don’t know the difference between a panini and a Pocono.” “You don’t?”
  • Henry’s first comeback to Bryn is less successful. She can’t believe how bad he is at this. “‘Thank you?’ Was your burn?”
  • The first electric moment between Henry and Eliza is completely uncomplicated. It’s when Henry gives Eliza his coat for dinner and she changes into a look that’s mostly his coat but partly her stuff. “A little bit of you and a little bit of me,” says Eliza. “That seems to be the winning combination,” he replies.
  • Like the Laurie-Jo analogy, Eliza turns salmon into a metaphor in an extended conversation at dinner. The waiter gives her some handy advice: “Look, there are other fish in the sea. If salmon doesn’t feel right, then you probably shouldn’t force it.” “It was one of the best pieces of advice a waiter had ever given me.”
  • Wren, post-rejection: “I think it’s great that Beth died. I’m actually super happy for Beth. I mean, dying from scarlet fever sounds better than being ignored on Match.com every night.”