Netflix is rising to the top of consumer entertainment, pushing out heaps of both second party and original content. Though the networks are denying their inevitable downfall, the landscape of television is entirely different, and it’s all because of Netflix. They’ve given us some incredible original series so far, from House of Cards to Orange is the New Black to Master of None; there’s been a wide variety, each special in their own way.
When I heard news of Chelsea Handler’s new series on Netflix, I didn’t think much of it. Honestly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of hers. I guess her style of comedy wasn’t always for me – or at least from what I had previously experienced. So, of course, I wasn’t sure if I would give the show a shot. But then, I heard some of my favorite comedians praising the show, and not just on comedic terms. This sparked an interest in me, so I sat down and started the new series.
More than three hours later, I had finished the first three episodes in one sitting.
Shortly after, I finished the four-episode series. To say I was pleasantly surprised is a huge, huge understatement. I mean, wow. Handler and Netflix have teamed up to make a raw, honest, daring and funny documentary series. Even if you are someone who doesn’t consider yourself a Chelsea Handler fan, I implore you to at least try watching the series. It’s that good. You will learn about love, technology, human nature, spirituality, race and more.
I love what they’re doing with the format – much longer than a typical hour-long show, each episode is basically a documentary, around an hour and twenty minutes long (or so). In that time, Chelsea has dinner parties with her close friends, discussing the topic at hand, intercut with her going into the world and experiencing the topic herself, either by seeing it in public, speaking to an expert, discussing it with her family, or another interesting approach. Also, conversations between her and a psychologist are present, featuring her personal encounter with each subject. All the while, Chelsea sprinkles her sharp humor throughout. It’s never too much, either. Actually, I now find that her style of humor is amazingly refreshing. She is blunt and unforgiving. She doesn’t care about outside opinions. But, intertwined in each episode is a remarkable amount of vulnerable and exposed real-life drama; some of it is sweet, some of it is poignant, but all of it ties to deep human emotion that each and every one of us can relate to.
There are four hour-plus long episodes in the first season of Chelsea Does. The episodes are as follows:
- Chelsea Does Marriage
- Chelsea Does Silicon Valley
- Chelsea Does Racism
- Chelsea Does Drugs
The first, Chelsea Does Marriage, is a great beginning for the series. We hear from Handler’s lifelong thoughts on marriage, her experience with relationships in the past, and ultimately, we get to see her final development, in which she honestly explains that she could see herself getting married one day soon – yet it’s made clear that she and those around her can’t think of the type of man it would take to tie her down. Additionally, elderly couples, unlikely couples, Handler’s father, Handler’s ex (and almost fiance) are some more of the people sharing their stories, thoughts and approaches to marriage. It’s very touching throughout, immediately revealing Handler’s humanity and willingness to analyze her own life decisions and flaws.
Episode two, Chelsea Does Silicon Valley, is mostly a fun time, filled with laughs. It’s easily the most light-hearted of the bunch, but still finds fascinating insights into our society and the way we interact with technology, both alone and amongst each other. More interestingly, Chelsea goes through the steps of pitching an app idea over the arc of the episode, starting from a simple thought and eventually blossoming into a fully-fledged and working app.
Chelsea Does Racism is easily the most daring entry in the series. Handler goes face-to-face with the race issues of America and questions everything – from small scale interpersonal relationships, to wider spread race issues, namely ones that have been prevalent in the news as of late. An intimate look at several different races are displayed through heartfelt and powerful interviews. There is a distinguishable tone that sets this episode apart from the others. The comedy is sometimes there, but often it is appropriately left behind for the much more pressing and serious nature of the subject. Not only is Handler unafraid to admit the many wrongdoings of herself and America in general, but she also courageously gets to the irked hearts of each interviewee – no matter what race – and discovers their own flaws and pain, and offers an unabashed window into the minds of nearly every type of major ethnicity in America. My words can only do the episode so much justice, but do yourself a favor and watch: It’s truly an important piece of entertainment for any American to experience. Though it sounds dramatic, the episode is one of the more varied and honest takes on our country’s internal race issues that I’ve ever seen.
In the fourth and final episode, Chelsea Does Drugs, many of the comedic tones return in full form. Chelsea is fully aware of how she abuses drugs and makes fun of it, herself and others who fall into her crosshairs. While there are still a few heavy moments wedged into the episode, dealing with life-crushing addictions and Chelsea’s own questions about her alcohol and drug-related issues, the most revealing sequence of the series is in the closing chapters of the episode. Handler and two of her friends take flight to Peru in search of a spiritual experience with the drug Iowaska. Without giving much away, Handler experiences a true revelation and lets us all watch through the lens of the camera. It is beautiful, relatable and at its root, human.
Chelsea Handler put herself on stage in perhaps the most vulnerable piece of entertainment I’ve seen in years, and she does so magnificently.
I laughed out loud, I felt sick to my stomach, I was punched in the heart.
All in all, Chelsea Does is a fantastic new Netflix series and should be watched by anyone and everyone with an interest in laughing and having their hearts warmed by truthful entertainment.
Have you guys seen Chelsea Does yet? What did you think of it? Let’s start a discussion in the comments below!
Author: Austin Adams, @IamAustinAdams
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