Chelsea Handler's New Netflix Talk Show: Not as New as She Thinks

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·Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
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Chelsea, the new Netflix talk show that premiered on Wednesday, is being positioned by host Chelsea Handler as a different kind of talk show. But watching its debut — with its opening music from Chris Martin, with Chelsea making a few jokes standing up and then sitting behind a desk to make a few more, with Chelsea welcoming guests such as Pitbull and Drew Barrymore to a sofa to chat — it certainly didn’t feel like a different talk show.

“I’m finally getting to do the show I’ve always wanted to do, so, thank you, Netflix,” she said early on in the half-hour that felt like an hour. I guess the show she’s always wanted to do is like the hundreds you’ve seen before, but with Handler pushing her usual I’m-a-degenerate-rebel image: Ooh, she says she failed a Breathalyzer test! Ooh, she’s proud that she never went to college, but asks her studio audience (Wow, a talk show with a studio audience — how different.) to think of her as “the professor you can get high with after class, or before class, or during class, and have sex with.” Ooh, she’s so outrageous!

Handler has said she wants to move away from the jokes she used to make on E’s Chelsea Lately about banal celebrity culture, and so on Chelsea she makes banal political jokes about politicians. Donald Trump is referred to as a “bankrupt, misogynistic, racist orange a**hole.”

Handler makes a big deal of not having attended college. Her interview with U.S. Secretary of Education John King consists mostly of King testing Handler’s knowledge on such subjects as government and history in order to, as the host puts it, “help assess my level of stupidity.” Drew Barrymore came out with wine (Hey, did you know Chelsea likes to drink?) and announced, “I, too, am in the I-didn’t-go-to-school club” to great applause. Yes, this is what we’ve been waiting for: a talk show that is proud to be even dumber than Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.

Handler is apparently going to fill out Chelsea with visits to foreign locales, such as Moscow and Mexico City, to broaden the appeal of her show for Netflix’s worldwide audience. None of these trips are shown on her debut, so maybe they’ll prove to be more amusing than her studio talk show. She broke up the segments with “funny” ads for Netflix. When the show ended, one of those screens popped up suggesting what I might like to watch next if I liked Chelsea. Netflix’s suggestion? Real Rob, the Rob Schneider sitcom. Yup, that seems about right…

Chelsea will premiere new episodes Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays on Netflix.