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HBO’s ‘Doll & Em’ is unnecessary and stale

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Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer play versions of themselves in HBO’s new comedy series.

Two and a half stars

Doll & Em Wednesdays, 10 p.m., HBO.

The world does not need another self-deprecating comedy in which a celebrity plays a fictionalized version of him or herself, but HBO’s British import Doll & Em gives us Emily Mortimer, co-star of HBO’s The Newsroom, as Emily Mortimer, Hollywood actress, anyway. The other title character is Emily’s best friend Dolly, played by Mortimer’s actual best friend Dolly Wells. The show’s Emily hires Dolly to be her personal assistant, leading to maximum awkwardness combined with celebrity cameos. The Hollywood satire (actors are self-absorbed, pretentious directors take their terrible movies too seriously, etc.) of the six-episode season’s first half is pretty worn out, and the uncomfortable humor makes the lead characters too unlikable. The later episodes mine some more emotionally rich material about female friendship, but the most rewarding moments still end up getting crowded out by the stale jabs at celebrity culture and narcissism.

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