The day after ABC’s “Selfie” debuted on Sept. 30, its overnight ratings came in at 4.6 million viewers and a 1.4 rating in the 18-49 age range that advertisers favor vs. the over-50 crowd (what an insult!). That wasn’t great.
As I’ve said in these pages before, if you fall below a 1.5 (unless you’re on the hardly viewed CW network, which hardly cancels anything), you could be in trouble. Then its ratings were adjusted upwards to 5.3 million and a 1.6 rating. OK, that gave the Karen Gillan/John Cho sitcom some breathing room.
It had already faced “The Voice” and “CSI” in its Tuesday 8 p.m. timeslot and the CW’s “The Flash” hadn’t yet debuted. I wasn’t too worried because as I said, who watches the CW? Last season, the highest average audience for any of its shows was a mere 2.6 million (“Arrow”) and the highest for the under-50 crowd was a paltry 1.0 rating (“Vampire Diaries”). Heh.
Just our luck. “The Flash” gave the CW its highest series debut in five years with 4.8 million viewers and a 1.9 18-49 rating. “Selfie,” on the other hand, fell 31% to a 1.1 rating and 3.9 million total viewers.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Nielsen, the company that compiles the ratings, discovered that some of its data between “fast ratings” and the adjusted figures for ABC between March 2 and Oct. 6 had been artificially inflated. Meaning “Selfie” probably didn’t get that 1.6 rating and was probably closer to that original 1.4 (we’ll get the real numbers on Friday).
We’ll have to wait to see how many more people tuned in to the sitcom after “Live +7” ratings (those who recorded it and watched it within a week) are reported on Oct. 20, as advertisers are more readily accepting those as “real ratings.”
Got all that? Anyway, “The Flash” will probably shed some curiosity eyeballs this week and hopefully “Selfie” will regain some momentum. In its second episode, Henry (Cho) realizes Eliza (Gillan) jumps whenever a co-worker texts her a “What’s up?” — meaning he’s in the mood for a “booty call” and she’s all too willing to comply.
Henry questions if that’s all her “friend” is into and why he hasn’t even taken her out on a date. It’s as if he’s afraid to be seen with her in public. So Eliza takes Henry’s advice and plays harder to get. Unfortunately, when she lands in the hospital, her “partner” comes to her bedside, shows some concern for her, realizes he does want to take her out, and Henry realizes he’s only brought them closer (he’s kinda jealous, see?).
This week’s episode was kind of broad, and it won’t win over critics who don’t like it in the first place. Henry’s assignment for Eliza is to get close to Joan, a co-worker who hates her for stealing her food out of the refrigerator. Eliza discovers Joan’s various Yelp reviews, understands her tastes, and uses it in conversation for Joan to bond with her. But in the end, Joan and her husband realize Eliza’s been a “Yelp stalker,” and the two are back to distrust.
Henry, in the meantime, has to admit to Eliza that he’s not as great at making people feel close to him as he thought: Larry, a co-worker whose wife walked out on him, wanted to live the bachelor life with Henry, moved in with him and drove him nuts. Henry screams his anger just as Larry walks in, which makes it awkwaaaard!…
The episode ends with Eliza’s “awww!” revelation that the reason she eats while standing over trash cans — it’s a habit she picked up while growing up because no one allowed her to sit at their table. Showing his supportiveness, Henry eats his meal next to her over the same wastebasket. See? I told ya this show has heart!
“Selfie” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central.
Ming-Na Unleashed Department: Though she’s second-billed on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Ming-Na Wen hasn’t had that many scenes compared to some of her co-stars, and she hasn’t been asked to do much except look constipated and resentful. So it was liberating to watch her reveal her social side this week when her Melinda May and S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) go undercover as husband and wife at a swanky reception.
She smiles a lot, laughs loudly, and flirts with a Spanish target so he’ll allow Coulson to take a picture of him, thereby recording his eyes, which Coulson then uses to pass a security checkpoint (Skye — played by Chloe Bennet — cracks that that’s the most she’s heard May say in an entire year).
The episode was stylishly directed by Kevin Tancharoen (2009’s “Fame” and “Glee — The 3D Concert Movie”), brother of series executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen. Since he’s also a choreographer, he no doubt taught Gregg and Wen those impressive ballroom moves.
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s enemy organization, Hydra, develops a see-through electrical mask that allows its wearer to assume the identity of anyone, and a woman poses as May. In the end, the real and the fake have a knock-down, drag-out fight, so it’s Ming-Na vs. Ming-Na. It was quite a showcase for her and — in the aforementioned scenes — a great opportunity to remind viewers of the actress’ real-life charm.
Although the expensive series returned on Sept. 30 to a relatively low 2.0 rating in the 18-49, when taking into account Live +7 numbers, it jumped 80% to a 3.6 rating, the third-highest increase of any show during premiere week.
Diversity Working Department: I guess you can call this an all-ABC column, but they deserve all the attention these days because of a line-up that offers “diversity” at its most real level in years. The “black family show” “Black-ish” has already received a full season order; ditto the Viola Davis-led “How to Get Away with Murder.” Even “Cristela,” the Latino family sitcom featuring stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo, impressed in its debut last Friday by improving upon its lead-in, “Last Man Standing,” with 6.6 million viewers, a not-bad 1.3 rating for the least-watched day of the work week.
I attended a pre-screening of the pilot and was impressed by how funny it was given how quickly the jokes flew. Not only did the Texas-raised comic create the show, she’s an executive producer and co-writer. It’s hard to believe but in 2013, ABC passed on her pilot script. So a producer suggested they get some money together and shoot the pilot anyway, the network reconsidered, and put it on its 2013-2014 line-up.
I was astonished. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t already funny on the page. During the Q&A section, I asked Alonzo how she got to have creative control over her show, as Margaret Cho didn’t and, as a result, “All-American Girl” wasn’t as funny as it could’ve been.
Alonzo told me she felt she had nothing to lose. She came from nothing, and if she was going to succeed or fail (and not get a second chance), it had to be on something of which she was proud. If it couldn’t be the way she wanted, she was perfectly willing to walk away. A lesson for all?
Please support the show. It’s in the old “Neighbors” time slot: Fridays 8:30 p.m./7:30 Central.
’Til next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.