Chelsea Handler made a name for herself by mocking celebrities and dissecting and discussing pop culture on her E! talk show, Chelsea Lately
. In 2016, the actress/author/producer/TV host launched her talk show Chelsea
on Netflix. Handler's trademark snarkiness hasn't abated, but Chelsea
proves that Handler is more than a mean girl capable of off-color comedic bits and mildly-engaging celebrity interviews.
Chelsea Handler's using her show to not only entertain but to educate viewers and herself on a myriad of issues of subjects that actually matter. Handler may not receive the same mainstream success or popularity as her counterparts in the male-dominated realm of late night, but Handler is bringing a much-needed female perspective on current events and empowering women in the process.
Not Your Typical Talk Show Host
Handler is an acquired taste. She's certainly not as congenial as Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver or Trevor Noah, and she's also not as polished or "professional." Handler talks openly on-air about her love of drinking and drugs - both prescription and recreational. Handler's jokes aren't always funny, she's abrasive and abrupt, having not quite mastered the ability to segue smoothly from one topic to another. But Handler eschews political correctness which enables her to cut through the sanitized, corporate-sponsored BS of primetime.
Handler is no dummy, and she's able to hold her own when interviewing scientists, CEOs, activists, philanthropists, journalists, news anchors, athletes, politicians and policy makers.
She may swear like a sailor, but she has a vast vocabulary, dropping words like vociferous and parlance without the aid of a teleprompter. She's self-deprecating when it comes to her intelligence but by downplaying her own astuteness, it opens the door for guests to break down complex subject matter in a way that viewers can understand.
Substance Above Style
An impressive array of accomplished women have gathered at Handler's home for either an intimate on-camera dinner party or kicked back on the massive couch on the Chelsea set (Often being greeted by one of Handler's beloved dogs): Obama's former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Alyssa Mastromonaco; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; transgender rights activist Janet Mock; Rep. Linda Sanchez (The first woman of color to be elected to a leadership position in the history of the U.S. Congress); political commentator S.E. Cupp; Ava DuVernay (The first black woman director to have her film nominated for Best Picture) and former California Senator Barbara Boxer (Boxer commiserated with Handler in the wake of Hillary Clinton's loss but also served as beacon of hope, urging women to not give up fighting for their beliefs )
Chandler still interviews A-listers, but less often for the sole purpose of touting their latest project. Celebrities tend to be so cognizant of discussing anything that could be deemed provocative or polarizing, so it's refreshing to watch Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) ponder religion; Rosario Dawson (Iron Fist), Aisha Tyler (Archer) and Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) speak about sexual harassment and racism in our criminal justice system;comedian Sarah Silverman share her passion for Lady Parts Justice and Niecy Nash (Claws) and Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) talk about the importance of maintaining a positive self-image.
Chicks and Dicks
Handler is proving adept at being able to oscillate between thoughtful discourse on subjects like Brexit, immigration, and women's reproductive rights and more irreverent conversations about dick pics, feminine hygiene products and Charlize Theron's (Atomic Blonde) nipples (Something us girls can do and men can't.)
Handler doesn't bash men (unless their name is Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. -- you get the idea) and welcomes men's insight and opinions as openly as women's. Handler makes it clear that men need to be pro-active and part of the dialogue when it comes to protecting and advancing women's rights and making the country a better place for anyone who feels disenfranchised (Except for old white guys because even though their numbers are dwindling, they still tend to get whatever they want.)
Handler, who supported Hillary Clinton, has stepped up her game since the election. She regularly skewers Trump and his sycophantic underlings and acolytes for their every misstep (And there have been many.) The comedian is consistent with her message that women must stay positive in the face of adversity, embrace the smallest victories and not become complicit or devalue themselves - no easy feat with a President who marginalizes, harasses and objectifies females. Handler gives women a platform to speak their minds, and when impassioned women come together, things happen. In the very least, viewers walk away more informed. Handler is a strong feminist voice, and everyone should start listening.
If you're unfamiliar with Chelsea on Netflix, check out the season 2 trailer.
Are you a Chelsea Handler fan? Do you watch her talk show on Netflix? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
New episodes of Chelsea are available for streaming Fridays on Netflix.
(Image Courtesy of Netflix)