(John Shearer/invision/ap)

When will television networks stop trying to capitalize on Internet memes?

ABC just greenlit a show called "Selfie," and it does not sound promising

Prachi Gupta
May 10, 2014 1:00AM (UTC)

ABC has greenlit a new comedy called "Selfie," which seemingly gives life to the self-obsessed, materialistic woman that the viral Chainsmokers song of the same name is mocking.

While the song has garnered more than 98 million views on YouTube, the television show doesn't seem poised to be nearly as successful. The comedy, which will star John Cho and Karen Gillan, tells the "story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman who is more concerned with ‘likes’ than being liked," according to the description provided by ABC. "After suffering a very public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media ‘followers’ than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.”


Despite repeated outcry from television critics, networks still seem to want to mine Internet memes for sitcom ideas -- so far without much success. Of course, the most infamous example is Justin Halpern's Twitter feed, Shit My Dad Says, which turned into a book and then a one-season television show on CBS starring William Shatner in 2010. The show only lasted one season, but Halpern, who was thrust into the television world, has managed to stay there. CBS again attempted to turn a Twitter feed into a show, "Shh … Don't Tell Steve," but dropped it in 2011. The show never aired.

But the networks are determined: In 2012, they turned to twenty-somethings with Tumblrs as the wave of the future, picking up the reaction GIF #HollywoodAssistants Tumblr by Berkley grad Lauren Bachelis for a show called "20-Nothings," and 24-year-old Emma Koenig's "F*ck I’m In My Twenties," by CBS and NBC, respectively. (Please, don't use this as an excuse to start a blog about "being a broke college kid in New York" though).

In 2013, Internet memes hit the big screen, landing Grumpy Cat a movie deal for a "Garfield"-like movie.


Maybe the networks will prove us stodgy critics wrong! After all, there has to be a TV show aside from "Girls" that can capture the social media culture, right? And there is one show that has managed to cash in on an Internet meme: E!'s "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills," inspired by the Instagram account of these absurdly rich American teenagers. Its ratings have boosted the same network that produced the Kardashians. But can this trend pay off in a sitcom format? We'll find out soon, but in the meantime, let's just hope that Pharrell's hat doesn't get its own TV show, too.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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Internet Meme Selfie Social Media Television Video

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