I am a huge Chelsea Handler fan. I’ve read all of her books at least twice: My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, and Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me. I regularly watch her talk show on the E! network, Chelsea Lately. I’ve seen her stand up show at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. She’s dirty, vulgar, and rude, which are a lot of characteristics not regularly found in a woman, and I like that. I love her man-eating ways, and how she openly brags about it. In Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea she hilariously sums up a sexual encounter: “He laid into me with the same gusto as a right-wing political pundit on the O’Reilly Factor defending President’s Bush right to vacation six days out of the week.” I also love how she refers to her lady parts as a “Pikachu” and feces as a “shadoobie.” What I like the most about her is that she just doesn’t care what anyone has to say about her. Although she isn’t exactly the best role model for young girls, she can at least teach them that it is important to never let anyone make you feel bad for being who you are. She’s crass and foul-mouthed, but she owns it. And that’s always admirable.
As a die-hard fan of Chelsea, I have been counting down the months until the January 11th premiere of her NBC sitcom Are You There, Chelsea? I had high expectations for it. The series is based on Handler’s second book, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. This book, along with her other two memoirs, chronicles her crazy life of one-night stands and drunken misadventures – and that’s what I was searching for in the sitcom. Instead, what I got was a watered-down, PG-13 version of Handler’s R-rated antics.
Laura Prepon, (That 70’s Show), stars as Chelsea Newman, a twenty-something bartender living in New Jersey. In the pilot, she moves in with the virginal Dee Dee, played by Laura Lapkus. Lapkus is mediocre in her role as the unbelievably naïve Dee Dee, who is terrified of men and spends her free time making origami and playing with stuffed animals. Olivia played by Ali Wong, Chelsea’s sidekick since elementary school, also moves in with them. Aesthetically, Wong and Prepon don’t exactly compliment each other as actors. Prepon is pushing six feet tall, whereas Wong is can’t be taller than five feet. They look ridiculous standing next to each other. Handler, on the other hand, plays Chelsea Newman’s super-Christian older sister, Sloane. Handler is by far the most superior actress amongst the cast due to her hilarious delivery of lines like, “Thank you for getting arrested, by the way. I really enjoyed using a prison toilet for the first time. And hopefully my unborn baby will enjoy her chlamydia” (Season 1 Episode 1). Handler delivers the snarky, spiteful lines that she writes perfectly.
In this show’s defense, the writing and comedy progressively gets better with each episode. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much. During the most recent episode, I laughed a few times, in particular during a scene when the character of Chelsea attempts to woo a gay gynecologist. Overall, I don’t have much faith in this show and I’d be shocked if it lasted until May. Had a paid network like HBO or Showtime picked up the show, Are You There, Chelsea? could have a little more freedom with Handler’s R-rated humor and would have stayed true to the outrageous and explicit book it is based off of.