chelsea handler review

Chelsea Review: We Can't Handler the Truth of Netflix's Drab New Talker

grade_D+The fact that Chelsea Handler’s new eponymous talk show, Chelsea, is on Netflix means you can tune in any time of day or night — and I say that as something of a threat.

“Nobody should have to watch me for longer than [30 minutes],” noted Handler, during a bleak interview with TED conference curator Chris Anderson, in one of the show’s initial trio of episodes. The host then drove home that idea with a dim “comedy” bit in which she gave her own TED talk about time — the “punchline” of which was that new installments of Chelsea premiere on the streaming service every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Perhaps some day Chelsea will inspire a fascinating intellectual discussion about the perils of noisily promising something new on the late-night scene, then delivering the TV equivalent of an ancient burlap grocery sack: a good idea in its infancy, perhaps, but now on the brink of everything imminently falling out of the bottom with a messy splat.

It’s a shame, really, seeing how the male-dominated non-daytime talk scene is in desperate need of female perspective. But in her first three episodes, a baffling aura of ennui permeated Handler’s monologues (like babies and Stevie Wonder, she joked, she’d make a terrible designated driver), her pre-taped sketches (an entire and completely laugh-free segment was devoted to Handler’s struggle to understand Spanish-language cues at a school for telenovela actors), and even her interviews (a Q&A with Captain America: Civil War‘s Chadwick Boseman opened with the host’s lengthy diatribe about her disinterest in comic-book lore).

Look, I get it: Nobody loves every aspect of hers or his job — and I’m sure that applies to talk-show hosts as much as it does butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. But letting your audience feel that disdain seems like a dubious way to drum up repeat business.

Even worse, there’s an icky tendency toward kissing up when Handler brings on one of her celeb friends (Gwyneth Paltrow! Drew Barrymore!) as a guest. As Paltrow rambled on about a recipe for organic lubricant in the sex issue of her online magazine, Goop, I was sure Handler would at least give her a mild ribbing about the widely reported $15,000 24-karat gold vibrator that the Oscar winner was selling. Instead, Paltrow got a chance to earnestly discuss the backlash she’s experienced as a forerunner in the actor-to-insufferable-life-curator field, quoting the late David Bowie’s warning: “Don’t ever be the first person to try anything.” Oy!

It’s still early days, of course, so perhaps Chelsea‘s unfortunate opening week will turn out to be an aberration. But with a heavy reliance on recycled material about her love of mood-altering substances and black men, I’m not hopeful. After all, it’s not as though Handler is admirably swinging for the fences and missing, she’s striking out while attempting a bunt.

The TVLine Bottom Line: Oddly paced and unrelentingly unfunny, Chelsea is nothing to talk about.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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50 Comments
  1. M3rc_Nate says:

    Chelsea Handler in everything she has ever done has been a D+. She is not a natural interviewer, she doesn’t have discussions she jumps in as they start to make jokes or jabs (typically really base, negative, lame jokes/jabs). Her disdain for her job, her shtick (if it even is one) of not being interested in anything (who she is talking to, what she is learning about, etc) is TOTALLY played out. This review is spot on. Her dinner with the Captain America crew could have been so much better if she took down her wall and turned off her comedy shtick and actually conversated with meaning and interest and curiosity.

    • sntindall says:

      Hit the nail on the head!

    • Kim R says:

      I second this.

    • Lucifer says:

      The interviews on Chelsea Lately were always the worst part. The round table was the best because she had other comedians to back her up or play off of. But even her days on the roundtable became stale with most of her “jokes” being her throwing insults at the others at the table. It got so bad that Khloe Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan were more entertaining when they guest-hosted the show.

      • Ben says:

        +1. It seem to be easy to outshine her… Dave Grohl stole the show when he was there guest-hosting b.e..

    • David4 says:

      So I’m not the one one who thinks she is blah and horribly overrated?! YAY!

  2. lkh says:

    Give it a chance. She has an unusual style, understatement and you have to be in the mood, understatement. I thought the third episode, I guess Friday, was much better and she more relaxed then the other two for sure. Altho, I kinda like the TED thing–funny to me.

  3. Jason says:

    Chelsea Lately was sooooooo much better. I miss the roundtable.

  4. lkh says:

    I liked the 4 specials she did for Netflix–especially the one on racism.

    • Jay says:

      I never cared much for Chelsea, Lately, but I thought her Chelsea Does specials were phenomenal. Too bad, she decided to go back to doing a lame talk show (that she herself wanted out of doing at E!).

  5. K says:

    I loved Chelsea lately, it was a very fun show but mostly because she had other comedians to bounce off which proved to be a great concept for a talk show.

    • Lauren says:

      Yeah, what made Lately so good were the other comedians she brought on. She has an eye for talent. We just saw Fortune Feimster on her stand up tour (hilarious!) And I was first introduced to her on Chelsea’s show. Chelsea herself has never been that funny to me.

    • Will says:

      The round-table with the other comedians is sorely missed and it’s what made me enjoy Chelsea Lately… I never cared for the interview portion of that show, and was pleasantly surprised when once or twice they did an entire show of round-table only! Sigh… her new show sucks, and she never misses a beat to hate on Angelina Jolie (first episode).. WE GET IT already, you’re friends with Jenn Anniston….

    • jerrired says:

      Agree this is the same reason I loved Chelsea Lately. I’m going to watch her special but I doubt I’ll watch this talk show. Chelsea had shows before Chelseea Lately on E! And they never appealed to me the way Chelsea Lately.

  6. Granted says:

    Hated her on her last show so won’t be watching this one.

  7. Yolo says:

    Both her and Amy Schmuer are so unfunny.

    • Will says:

      Good comparison! Two comedians I once enjoyed but now find tiresome with their attitudes (drama seems to follow Schumer around wherever she goes these days).

    • tvjunkie says:

      Yeah, you pretty much nailed it right there, though you forgot to add they’re both annoyingly obnoxious.

  8. Deb Hash says:

    I must be getting old, I use to find her somewhat amusing, but not any more. When she idealizes drugs and alcohol and the sheep in the audiences laugh and applaud, it makes me cringe. I’ve seen too much of the damage from substance abuse to find it so amusing, and it seems to be her only shtick.

  9. dude says:

    I only saw the Captain America episode and mostly enjoyed it but that was because I liked how the cast played off each other and not necessarily Chelsea. Her interview with Chadwick Boseman however was awful. She didn’t even let him talk.

    • Nipsy says:

      There were so many cringe-worthy moments at the dinner table, like when Chris Evans actually had to man-splain equal pay issues in Hollywood. I can’t believe it. The interview with Chadwick Boseman was a wasted opportunity, all she did was continue her rant about how she’s not into comic books. So what? Neither am I. I still want a decent interview.

  10. Me says:

    She only is something because she was in a long time relationship with the former head of E!
    She was ok but she drops names of her famous friends. I hate to tell you no one like Gywenth Paltrow so we are not impressed.

  11. Chris says:

    Without a roundtable the show came off as incredibly boring and awkward. I really hope they do some retooling in the future. However, I really liked the “Dinner with Friends” with the cast of CA: Civil War. I actually like the bit in general and wished that was just a show itself.

  12. Grace says:

    I couldn’t get through the teaser/trailer without being bored and irritated, so I didn’t even try to watch an actual show. Looks like I was right. Great review, thanks.

  13. AM68 says:

    No one watched her on E! so what make Netflix think people will spend $9.99 a month to watch her when they could be watching Happy Valley instead??

  14. Dom and Dora Dumbfuk says:

    Who in hell are these farm team wanna be,s of every possible description this streaming service of mediocrity spews out 24/7. Heads up if the condition puts you all out of work!

  15. Jimmy says:

    I was so bored by the first episode I’ve yet to go back and check out any of the other episodes. After all the hype of bringing something new the talk show format, this was just Blah.

  16. Jerri says:

    You’re being too generous with the grade there.

  17. Rolfe says:

    The comic book episode was good. She still needs o settle on this non-format format.

  18. liame says:

    She doesn’t seem real. I’m not talking honest real, I’m talking “real person”. She comes across as a Zombie on percocet with the ability to speak. Give her a role on TTD! That’s really all she deserves.

  19. Doreen Daggett says:

    Great review just like I felt about the show. I never missed Chelsea Lately but after the first episode of this new show I wasn’t interested. I loved the round table the most about the old show she should bring that back.

  20. kevin says:

    I’m glad I want the only one who hated her show. Like her E show but not this one

  21. Kristy Barnes says:

    Smart yv thanks for saying what we think. And I haven’t commented on tv since I was little and wrote a letter to the network to stop replaying the same after school special…

  22. Beaker says:

    Lighten up she’s smart and funny , a rare woman .

  23. misery chick says:

    Chelsea Handler kinda sickens me. Her kissing up and and shmoozing A-Listers is DISGUSTING because she has become exactly the type of person she used to endlessly ridicule…only she’s MUCH worse! If she doesn’t care about HER show, simply quit! I guess the ‘Chelsea Does’ or some kind of roundtable, which most who watched seem to prefer, takes too much energy or limits her partying and obvious drug use. She thinks she’s “too cool for school”, I’m glad her new, “innovative, never-been-done-this-way-before” talk show is TANKING-it couldn’t have happened to a more (un)deserving creature!

  24. HAP says:

    I have to agree with many folks who have posted before me. I was a regular watcher of her show on E! simply because she had so many talented and funny people at the table.

    She cannot do stand-up. She is more or less a one trick pony, always bragging about her lack of education.

    Her dog walking around on stage is distracting. But at the end of the day, this new show really sucks, and Netflix should ask for a refund.

  25. Leandro says:

    The grade does not have imply (1st page – A) however simply an general (This is on observe to succeed with Google
    – A) or (This area must be improved to make indexing and presenting on Google Better – C) aand
    lisdt some examples or bullpet points.

  26. Gerard Devine says:

    I completely agree with this assessment of her new show….just awful. What a disappointment! I had been looking forward to it, but am not going to watch it any further. The “interviews” with Drew Barrymore pushing her wine and Gwyneth Paltrow her beauty products, were insulting and obnoxious. Drew Barrymore’s days of sobriety are obviously behind her, and boy, does it show! At 41 years of age, the whole drinking and drugging thing is really wearing thin for Chelsea….not funny, “Girl”……really tired and obnoxious. Good luck in your future endeavors because this one does’t look like it’s heading for a positive outcome for you or Netflix. I love women in comedy, but there’s little comedy going on here……..

  27. Judge Mental says:

    I really wanted to like this show, but she’s become too negative to enjoy. She needs to talk less and listen more to people she “interviews”. The best part of the 2 episodes I watched was her dog Chunk. He’s funny.

  28. Care says:

    I can’t understand why many people don’t like this show. I also can’t understand why they say she isn’t funny. Of course she has her own sense of humor but this is exactly the kind of humor I like and I know a lot of people who also like it. It’s loaded with sarcasm and irony, and that’s great! But it’s also a kind of humor many people don’t really understand or dislike, I know, but believe me, there are guys who love it. I really really hope the show goes on!

    • jay52 says:

      I totally agree with you. I want Chelsea to be more dry, more mean, and more sarcastic!!

      Most of these people are either women hating men or meek women hating a strong woman.

      • Jeffrey Jones says:

        That’s your opinion. I would say some of Chelsea’s biggest fans are uneducated women with a blue collared backgrounds praising the “in your face attitude’ calling themselves strong but loving racist, homophobic comments from a high school educated narcissist. Strong women are out there in the media such as Samantha Bee just to mention a few who do not need to put children down, the LGBT community or minorities trying to compensate for their own insecurities.

  29. I liked her show, but like many talk shows I have liked in the past, they got political, and look down on about 50% of the population.. When you get political, you are going to turn off a large percentage of viewers, who do not agree with your stance.. This has been the downfall of many shows…

  30. NetflixFan says:

    Not a fun show at all. She is so scripted and sour. It’s really painful to watch. Netflix is throwing everything in to help her but it’s just not working. There is a simple financial principle Netflix management should remember. Never base future decisions on previous expenses. Past costs are already sunk. Stop throwing good money after bad on this show.

  31. missyrocks5 says:

    Tru dat. Thought it was just me

  32. sugarfoot says:

    Tried it, did not like it.
    She should have stuck with her old show or format.
    The round table she had was the best, and even exposed us to some funny up and coming comedians.