If you’ve ever seen a Hugh Grant movie, “Selfie”’s premiere should look familiar. In the final scene, there’s a woman (the lively, charming Karen Gillan) chasing down a man (the laid-back, charming John Cho), yelling “I need you! Don’t give up on me.” They apologize, they flirt, and suddenly they’re laughing as rain falls around them. Sure, there’s no kiss (yet), but other than that, it’s straight out of the romantic comedy playbook.
And it has a lot of company this fall, in what might be called the season of the rom-com sitcom. The Hollywood romantic comedy—boy meets girl meets true love, accompanied by light banter and quirky friends—has been in a box office rut these past few years, occasionally finding success with independent films like Obvious Child. But twenty-five years after When Harry Met Sally, the beleaguered genre has found a new home on television. In addition to “Selfie”—a modern update of Pygmalion—ABC has “Manhattan Love Story” and NBC is counting on “A to Z” and “Marry Me.” As someone who loves watching good-looking people fall in love onscreen, I should be thrilled by this development. Instead, they’ve convinced me that the classic rom-com blueprint can’t work on TV.