Reviews: UK Drama ‘Self Centered’

Self-Centered is a British mini-web series (web mini-series?) with an arresting, if a bit outlandish, sci-fi premise. Actress Lydia (Kellie Shirley) seemed destined to be the next big thing before spiraling out on drinking and drugs. She goes to sleep drunk in a bathtub after the latest in what we presume are a string of one-night stands and wakes up in a hospital called "The Clinic." There, The Custodian (Simon Tcherniak) tells her that it’s the future, and the fate of the world depends on her landing the lead role in a new film called For All Our Tomorrows.

The premise sounds really silly, and it is, but the show manages to make it intriguing, mainly because the short length and frequent cuts back and forth allow them to keep things vague. Writer Steven Keevil does a great job of giving you just enough information to be curious, but not enough to be able to figure out what the hell is going on.

Star Kellie Shirley is in the British soap Eastenders and has appeared in some films as well, and she’s definitely the highlight here. Believable as a former movie star and she handles the transition from drugged-out mess to healthy and fit believably. She’s really the center of this story, and if we didn’t see her as real, there’s no way we’re buying some of this more wacky nonsense.

Overall, the show is reminiscent of David Lynch, though obviously without the mastery of style. But the notion of a peculiar casting crisis behind-the-scenes of a film recalls Mulholland Drive and the use of surrealism to express inner turmoil and angst recalls…basically every Lynch film and TV show. (The fake film in Inland Empire is also called On High In Blue Tomorrows!)

New episodes debut every Tuesday. Right now, we’re at episode 4 of a 6 episode first season, though there’s also plans for a second.

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