08/13/2013 10:56 am ET

Rebel Wilson's Super Fun Night: When Self-Deprecating Heroines Tear Themselves Too Far Down


"I want to defend you, and then I find out you're the person who wrote it which is brilliant," Conan O'Brien told Australian comedienne Rebel Wilson at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday, where they were presenting Super Fun Night, her new ABC sitcom about a group of friends who try to expand their social lives. "She's absolutely, absolutely fearless."

The scene O'Brien was praising was one in which Wilson's character, a smart but awkward lawyer named Kimmie, and her friends Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira) and Marika (Lauren Ash) are being turned away from a nightclub where they've been invited by a coworker of Kimmie's on whom she has crush. "We don't need any eye broccoli clogging up the line," a bouncer played by Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key tells the awkwardly-dressed trio. But instead of getting discouraged, the threesome keeps trying, and trying, and trying to get in, until they're left alone and discouraged on a deserted sidewalk.

That scene, and much of the pilot, are in keeping with what Wilson says is her own taste in storylines: "I'm always pitching the saddest storylines, like, where I get punched in the face," she explained to the assembled critics. But storytelling decisions like that, or Wilson's Pitch Perfect character's tendency to refer to herself as "Fat Amy" to head off haters at the pass, raise an important question. Is it possible for out-of-the-standard-mold actresses like Wilson and Melissa McCarthy to be too defensive about the ways in which they differ from their sitcom (and romcom and action) counterparts?

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