Chelsea Handler’s Return to TV, well sort of, it’s Netflix.
Chelsea Handler went from E’s Chelsea Lately to Chelsea Does to the current, Chelsea. With each installment, Chelsea Handler has further stripped herself of network regulations ultimately revealing her naked self. Considering her reputation and persona have been built through her long ride on the talk show bull, it is understandable why Netflix would trust Chelsea Handler to tame her wildest beast yet.
Handler’s television chronology is a degeneration of civility and program conventions. On Netflix, she has reached her pinnacle; or in this case, her rudiment. There is no title more fitting than Chelsea. However, creative freedom does not equate to quality. Perhaps her previous supervision is what steered her chaos to conquest.
Setting the Stage
Before Chelsea Handler even delivers her first offhanded comment, the lighting, and focal lengths invoke a feeling of unease. An artificial, sharp white light bathes Chelsea and her guests while they are framed either slightly too close-up or with a slightly off angle. The look is not essential to this form of content, though it is imperative for the viewer to feel comfortable. Handler’s quips and demeanor can be cringe-worthy enough; the aesthetic should not follow suit.
The arrangement and duration of shots are also problematic. The pacing falls stagnant at points, while the shots, more than occasionally, seem random. Considering Chelsea is a talk show, there are not many shot options. However, the placement and length of shots must be executed purposely and efficiently. Otherwise, in Chelsea’s case, the show can seem like a lucky sequence of clips.
Off The Cuff
In true Chelsea Handler fashion, censorship is less a requirement and more a topic of mockery. On Netflix, not only is her content unrestricted, so is her behavior and courtesy. “Nothing is off limits” is a well-known mantra of comedy. Regardless, there is a difference between blatant insolence and irreverence. This division is a fine line Handler has drunkenly walked on since the onset of her career. Perhaps she has consumed a few too many to keep straight.
Chelsea Handler’s coarse presentation is tolerable even for her opposition. However, there is a larger problem. The jokes. The heart of the content’s receptivity lies in its likability. The subject matters can be dull, though the quality of the humor must not waver. Dependent and independent of content quality, the jokes, more often than not, fall flat and leave an awkward fallout. It can be uncomfortable enough with Chelsea’s bombastic personality; regardless, the jokes must land.
“No I don’t want to get a facelift, I don’t have enough time for that.” – Chelsea to Paltrow
The majority of her content and segments are just plain disinteresting. They either lack meaning and substance, or relatability to anyone under the upper-class. From Gwyneth Paltrow’s “goop products” to Chelsea taking a basic academic quiz, the content is not dry; it disinteresting. Few and far between, there are provocative and substantial topics. However, Handler still either obnoxiously interferes or demeans the discussion altogether. If the majority of the content alienates, irritates, and, worse, bores viewers, then they will do as Chelsea asserts: refuse to care.
“It must feel fucking kickass after you go to Washington and do something like that, doesn’t it” – in reference to Tony Hale and Gwyneth Paltrow telling their government lobbying stories. Chelsea disregarded the substantial topics, which subsequently diverted the dialogue to reductive, petty self-pride.
A Crude, Crass, and Uninhibited Chelsea
From discussing her former sidekick Chuy Bravo to conversing with the head of TED Talks, her crass approach does not relent.
“I don’t give a fuck about Chuy!” – Chelsea remarked after lying about her former sidekick’s death as a joke.
“Oh, what a funny accent” – Chelsea inserted, interrupting a thought-provoking explanation by TED Talks Chris Anderson.
Though this behavior is precisely what makes Chelsea, now she is uninhibited. She never had boundaries; now she has no limits. No regulations nor censorship. Therefore, she is afforded the rare opportunity of real freedom. It is evident that she exploits this desired capability like a mad tyrant. Ultimately, the likability of Chelsea’s behavior depends on viewer taste. Or rather, their degree of tastelessness.
“Okay, break it down quickly for people that are really stupid.” – demanded to Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks, after asking the audience, both in-house and through cameras, if they knew what TED Talks were.
Chelsea will always be Chelsea, except now she has a throne in the nirvana of modern media and a rusty loudspeaker. Chelsea demands a particular acquired taste to enjoy. Without it, the viewer must be tolerant or a masochist.
In a time of political correctness and hypersensitivity, Chelsea is a refreshing voice from a recent era. A voice reviled on the surface where new conventions rule, and echoes underground, receiving applause from society’s not-so-soft underbelly.
Either way, Chelsea is best served with an empty stomach and your cheapest boxed wine.
Our rating: 5/10
All quotes and photos are the courtesy and property of Netflix.