TVLine's Performer of the Week: Selfie's Karen Gillan

KAREN GILLAN, JOHN CHO

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Karen Gillan

THE SHOW | Selfie

THE EPISODE | “Here’s This Guy”

THE AIRDATE | November 11, 2014

THE PERFORMANCE | ABC’s recent decision to cancel its freshman sitcom Selfie is, on many levels, as cruel and capricious as a hunter taking a shot at a baby bird making its maiden flight from the nest.

Ratings (and dubious title) aside, the cute-but-uneven rom-com that premiered in September has seen its heart triple, perhaps even quadruple, in size over the course of seven episodes — in no small part due to the goofy commitment and undeniable charm of leading lady Karen Gillan.

Last Tuesday’s episode found Gillan’s Eliza experiencing unexpected pangs of jealousy as her mentor (and sole non-digital friend) Henry embarked on a romantic relationship with another woman. Right from the opening scene, in which Henry came to install a rotary phone in Eliza’s apartment, Gillan’s guileless smile allowed the audience to see how a woman-child obsessed with Facebook and Twitter “likes” was beginning to realize the power of liking a human being right in front of her. “Henry and I spend a lot of time together — and we never have sex,” Gillan marveled in a heartstrings-tugging voice-over. “We are, in the truest sense of the word, friends.”

When Eliza arrived at Henry’s office the next day, however, and found herself denied entry by his assistant, Gillan hilariously brought to life her flighty character’s all-too-human insecurities — and overactive imagination – by demanding to know with whom Henry was meeting. “Is it Obama? Is it Toby Maguire? Is it Toby Maguire, you little bitch!?”

Turns out, though, Henry’s lunch date with new crush Julia left no room for a plus-one, giving Gillan the chance to show us how much was at stake for Eliza now that she’d begun to really value her mentor’s friendship — and right when she needed help preparing to introduce her pharmaceutical company’s keynote speaker at a conference. After attempting to poison Henry’s romance — “Baby urine, isn’t that your new lady’s fave?” Eliza inquired about the pediatric urologist in a line reading that was far funnier than it had a right to be — she began posting negative online reviews of the saintly doc, leading to an ugly argument with Henry that left Eliza crushed (and viewers reaching for the nearest box of Lleenex).

The episode hit its crescendo with Eliza at the podium for her big assignment, exhibiting a mixture of her typical self-absorption and a crippling self-doubt over Henry’s failure to show up. “Thank you. And now, this guy,” she muttered, scoring a Standing O more for her sexy outfit than for the six words she’d managed to spit out. Lo and behold, though, Henry did manage to show up and show his support, moving Eliza to tears once again — only this time out of happiness. With Selfie about to go on the shelf, we may never get a romantic resolution for the couple, but maybe that’s not such a tragedy. In Gillan’s hands, Eliza has replaced emojis with emotions, and allowed her vulnerabilities to bubble up through her hard digital exterior. And to us, anyway, that sounds like a very happy ending.

how-to-get-away-with-murder-spoilers-is-bonnie-liza-weil-leaving-htgawmHONORABLE MENTION | Liza Weil‘s Bonnie Winterbottom is, to a large degree, How to Get Away With Murder‘s least sympathetic character. She’s always skulking around in dark corners and empty hallways, tossing judgmental barbs at her firm’s law-student minions and making moony eyes at her boss Annalise’s hubby Sam. In “He Has a Wife,” however, Bonnie — having learned Sam was not traveling for work the night his pregnant sorority girl lover was murdered — confessed her lies of omission and fractured loyalty to Annalise in a desperate display that bordered on supplication. Weil’s broken physicality — on her knees at the feet of her queen — and tear-streaked face conveyed how much was at stake for the icy blonde as she begged for forgiveness and begged to keep her place at Annalise’s right hand. Alas, Bonnie’s pleas were in vain, and as Annalise gave her her pink slip with the brutal instruction to “leave and don’t come back,” Weil’s face made it clear Bonnie’s come completely undone.

POTWNFHONORABLE MENTION | Once you bought into the premise of Castle’s reality-warping episode, the payoff was the glory of Nathan Fillion as a humorously hapless fish-out-of-water desperate to — again! — prove his value to the crimesolvers at the 12th precinct. Fillion-as-rascal never does not entertain, as Rick skulked around corners and wormed his way into interrogation rooms, or endeavored to “explain” his delusion to Captain Beckett, saying of his new novel’s main character, “I’ve fallen in love with her. I eat with her, sleep with her” (all the while alluding to the “real” deal back home). Then, once the alt-reality ended, Fillion melted Caskett-loving hearts with his twinkly eyed delivery of Rick’s heartfelt wedding vows. How could one not say, “I do” to this endearing performance?

HMWGHONORABLE MENTION | All too often during Sons of Anarchy‘s final season, we’ve wept over the death and destruction set in motion by Gemma’s killer white lie. So, when the emotional peak of Tuesday’s episode came not in the form of another lost life, but Venus and Tig’s candid confessions of love, we found ourselves getting choked up for a far different reason. In a rare and spectacular moment of vulnerability, Venus — as played by the fearless, incomparable Walton Goggins — stripped away her signature makeup, styled hair and lilting voice to expose the conflicted man underneath it all. And when Venus finally admitted her true feelings for Tig (“I’m afraid, Alexander, that I may have fallen in love… with you.”), Goggins and an equally remarkable Kim Coates showed us how fragile and messy even the truest love can be.

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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70 Comments
  1. Tran says:

    The performer of the week was meant as a “parting gift”.

  2. anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t Sam be the least sympathetic character, though, instead of Bonnie?

  3. Roger says:

    All the feels for Karen Gillan. Love that woman.

  4. Matt C. says:

    Emily VanCamp deserves a mention for her work in last week’s Revenge. Watching her slowly lose her normally solid control to her emotions over the course of the episode was so heartbreaking.

  5. Shar says:

    It’s sad and frustrating that now, after Selfie was cancelled, critics are finally coming onboard with the show. ABC has a very fast trigger finger.

    • Liz says:

      Actually critics have defended that show since the beginning cuz of the stupid title

    • Cyndi says:

      Sadly, the title doomed it. I had zero interest in this show based on the title and the ads for it. I came across the pilot online before the season began and thought I’d see just how much of a train wreck the show would be. I hated the first half and then suddenly found myself being charmed by Gillan and Cho. I am so sad this show was canceled – I was totally shipping Eliza and Henry!

      • Yeah the ads didnt really help much either. I had zero intention of watching the show b/c it looked incredibly stupid until my parents saw it on a whim and said I would like it. Wasn’t necessarily the funniest series out there but I enjoyed the pop culture references and the touching moments between Eliza and Henry.

      • Lauren says:

        I agree. I never would have watched based on the promos. I only gave it a shot because it was recommended by this site. It’s really too bad…

      • Guest says:

        I like My fair Lady even more so than other girls liked Disney Princess, and this contemporary social media version seemed like it was made for my generation. I just wish those two get to kiss each other before they pull the plug on it.

        • Ann says:

          I love My Fair Lady. When John Cho uttered the line “I’ve grown accustomed to your face” in an episode a few weeks ago, I wondered how many people watching caught that reference to the musical. This show is smart and well-written with a great supporting cast of characters. I really hope ABC changes their mind and gives this show a second season to let it grow…it has a lot of potential. Afterall, what hit comedies does ABC have right now besides The Middle and Modern Family? If they were willing to give The Goldbergs a second season after that atrocious first season…why not give Selfie a new title and a second season? Selfie is starting to get good.

    • TG says:

      Selfie was a hilarious show with heart and a talented cast. One of the episodes last week (Even hell has two bars) could have garnered mentions for both Gillan and Cho. I’m going to miss this show!

    • Guest says:

      Cancellation of Selfie feels just like if CBS would’ve cancelled The Big Bang Theory before Leonard even dated Penny – or Sheldon met Amy – sometimes a show needs a slow build to become a ratings juggernaut and Selfie had the foundantion for it.

  6. Emma says:

    Hmm what about Emily Vancamp ?

    i must say I was really surprised by Nathan Fillion’s performance. I’m not always a fan of his acting, I know a lot of people liked it but I thought he was terrible in Target/Hunt for example (but maybe it was because I found the episode completely ridiculous too) and sometimes I feel like he tries too much to be funny which makes it … not funny (Don’t shoot me, it’s just my opinion)
    But in this episode, it’s the way I like him, I think he found the perfect balance and played the character perfectly. It felt naturally funny, not forced.
    He was really good in the wedding part too, as well as Stana Katic, especially since it must be incredibly awkward and hard to do this kind of scenes (even more in front of an awful green screen). And Nathan’s “hi” at the beginning of the wedding was the cutest thing ever ;-)

    • anne-laure says:

      I think he is not always helped by the writers who often portrayed his character as a pathetic fool. I was disappointed by him last year -could he have been less enthusiastic?- but this year he seems back on track, and scenes between Castle and Beckett are wayyy better

  7. King says:

    Haley of Modern Family should have gotten at least an honorable mention! She really nailed that last scene. To pull off a short scene with such range of emotions is difficult to do. She was really hilarious at the same you can feel for her.

  8. Rachel says:

    What about emily van camp for revenge or Finn wittrock for ahs cmon

  9. JVC says:

    Susan Sullivan hello ? Don’t get me wrong, Nathan and Stana were great but we all know that and we say that every week, besides Susan stole the episode ! She was hilarious ! In the other hand, Jon Huertas has some work to do to make his character likeable again.

  10. Ralph Hartman says:

    How bootleg you not give it to either Kim Coates or Walton Goggins or even make it a tie and give it to both. They were fantastic and Emmy worthy.

  11. omar says:

    Liza Weil = Emmy nomination… please?

    • dan says:

      As I’ve watched HTGAWM so far, I’ve known that eventually the character of Bonnie would have to become a prominent part of the storyline. This episode did a great job of tying loose ends together and preparing us for next week’s fall finale. Liza Weil was a key element of bringing it all together. She stood toe-to-toe with Viola Davis (no easy task) and deserves an Emmy nom for her performance. I’m not familiar with her other TV work, but she is doing a great job of creating a key character on a top notch show. My prediction: Bonnie killed Lila and Wes killed Sam.

    • Sam says:

      Does anyone else remember her from ER? Her boyfriend/husband was the schizophrenic who killed Lucy and stabbed Carter.

  12. Simone says:

    Karen Gillan should always be doing rom-coms! Very likable

  13. DarkDefender says:

    Nathan Fillion. Yes. He was amazing this week.

  14. Whovian26 says:

    I just gotta say I know some of you are whovians and I am too and as I was watching selfie at the part where it was showing all her followers and friends I saw @trenzalore and I totally freaked that is a doctor who mention. I thought they would eventually make a doctor who mention and they did hahaha I thought it was wicked cool. Sad the show is ending and I do agree emily van camp should have gotten a mention too. I love doctor who and revenge.

    • Rebecca says:

      There was also a Dalek toy in the episode with the kid. You can see it on the shelf when he’s lying in bed just before he starts freaking out.
      I’m sure they’ve slipped in others that I’ve missed.

  15. Alex says:

    Agree for NF, great performance. I would have put SK as well, she played a different Kate Beckett and managed to make me fall for Kate all over again in one episode. Actually, I think she could do a hundred of different Kate Beckett and I would fall for her everytime

  16. stormie says:

    Walton and Kim did an exceptional job that brought tears to my eyes. The final season just hasn’t worked for me. Just a mass of bodies of people I don’t care about. Not having people like Maggie and Ron takes about so much for me.

  17. TvPeong says:

    I’ll miss Selfie. Karen Gillan and John Cho were magic together. I was so glad he was there for her in the end. She still needs him (and he needs her).

  18. fei says:

    Karen was super fun, I agree with someone here who said she needs to be in more romcoms. Walton Goggins, no words.
    Agree about Nathan Fillion, very fun, touching, adorable and at the same time nuanced performance. I almost gave up on Castle last year, but this season despite a very vague mythology part feels somehow fresher and more fun. And I like that they give Castle more focus, it came to the point that he resembled a glorified extra.
    Looking forward to watching this episode of HTGAWM later today.

  19. Sean says:

    Yassss…Liza was great on HTGAWM this week.

  20. Nancy says:

    This show has gotten better and better each week and people are just getting the hang of it. Really unfair how ABC pulled the trigger so soon. Upset fans made an online petition already with 17,000 signatures in a week (still counting) hoping for ABC to reverse their decision or for this show to get picked up by another network. Karen Gillan and John Cho were such a joy to watch and I hope to see the rest of the filmed 13 episodes.

  21. Jana says:

    No other acting this week compared to Walton Goggins and Kim Coates on Sons of Anarchy. None. They were the Performers of the Week. An honorable mention for Walton does not suffice.

  22. LAwoman says:

    Walton Goggins and Kim Coates. Just amazing. I’m hoping so hard for a happy ending for Venus and Tig .

  23. dancmh says:

    I like Gillan. I really do. But I don’t see how anyone could top Goggin’s or Coate’s performances in SOA this week. That was the best scene I have ever watched on a television show. Ever.

    • B says:

      They were quite good in that scene, but with all the prior setup of Venus being almost like comic-relief, I couldn’t take it as seriously as it was intended. But I still thought they were fantastic!

  24. meimi132 says:

    T-T I can’t believe they cancelled Selfie already… when other less decent things continue plodding along…

  25. The fact ABC canceled Selfie, despite how stupid the title is, just shows how dumb that network is and has been. I have had no faith in ABC since they canceled Happy Endings, another good show with a great cast that got axed, which saw everyone off doing things on other networks and being successful.

    Karen Gillian did her best and tried so hard to promote that show, but ABC clings to Modern Family’s nuts and would have canceled that too if it got off to a slow start. Parks and Rec was almost canceled in its second season after being hit or miss for most of the first, but now it’s one of the best shows on TV. Canceling shows with promise before it gets a legitimate chance to become something is the height of stupidity.

    Hopefully Gillian can find a project not on ABC and excel there because she’s definitely a star.

  26. IMHO says:

    Walton Goggins & Kim Coates were phenomenal on SOA this week.
    And absolutely Best Performance of the Week IMHO.

  27. BetiSA says:

    Nate <3

  28. HAP says:

    As much as, or more than the writing of Selfie was its time slot. Cold start for the evening, silly title and no lead in. Said it before, but if Selfie and Black-ish had been put in each other’s slot, Black-ish would be the canceled series. Karen Gillan is beautiful, talented and funny. Any one with any brains should snatch her up for a new series.

  29. spindae2 says:

    Joseph Morgan deserved it!

  30. Lisa W says:

    Kim Coates on SOA doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his incredible acting talent. To have a character who does such terrible and questionable things…and to play that character with such an understated rawness, to where people want to root for him…that’s pure genius in my opinion.

  31. LABete says:

    ITA re Walton Goggins and Kim Coates. That was an amazing scene. Venus and Tig are becoming the new Romeo & Juliet of SOA.

  32. Jared says:

    Finn Wittrock from AHS Freakshow has been stealing the show week after week with his performance as Dandy. Never heard of him before this role but hes been amazing!

  33. Sheldon W. says:

    I don’t believe Walton Goggins is even capable of making a false step. Plus he is a really fun interview.

  34. I’m shocked at how much I’ve grown to love Selfie. And even more shocked at how angry I am that it was cancelled.

  35. Johanna says:

    Claire Danes didn’t even get an honorable mention?! It’s a shame, she really deserved it this week…

  36. I had no idea that Bonnie’s last name was Winterbottom and it makes me hate the character even more.

  37. JM says:

    From The Shield to SOA and Justified, Walton Goggins is WAY overdue for an Emmy!

  38. Alex says:

    Karen Gillan is fine in Selfie, but the show really stinks. So glad it got the boot!

  39. Andrew says:

    Kasha Kropinski from Hell on Wheels should be the next Performer of the Week!

  40. dman6015 says:

    ABC = putz’. They should have given the show a little bit more time, as many critics and viewers are finally coming around. Oh, well, that’s Hollywood.

  41. The pilot was a mess, I’ll admit. It felt like it was originally an hour long and it got amputated down to fit a half-hour slot. Things were much improved in the first REAL episode, and they’ve only gotten better from there. I’d definitely say give this one another chance. I’ve been enjoying it, and I’m rather sad it’s getting axed.