Chelsea Handler tackles big issues in new Netflix series ‘Chelsea Does’
Chances are you wouldn’t expect comedienne Chelsea Handler — charmingly irreverent to some and annoyingly irritating to others — to headline a four-part documentary series that is tackling some of the biggest issues today. But, the late night queen is back, and that’s exactly what her new Netflix series, “Chelsea Does,” is. And, that’s what makes it so intriguing.
The show has four parts, “Marriage,” “Race,” “Silicon Valley” and “Drugs.” What makes the show admirable is that Handler knows she’s severely out of her depth, and she realizes that is all the more reason to immerse herself into these topics so that she can get a better understanding of them.
What makes Handler appealing to some is exactly what makes her difficult or even deplorable to others — a bluntness that can seem offensive, a trust in her own goodness and talent that can come off egotistical.
It is possible to waver between these positions, such as you find this joke funny or flat, or you agree with her stance on something, or it could be completely different than your own.
But, her brassiness does make her interesting and a great interviewer. Handler is willing to let other people talk so that she can be amazed or entertained by them. She is eager to listen to them and really grasp what they are saying. It’s basically a requirement of her job to take in the world — to find it interesting or ridiculous — in order to send it back as humor.
Each episode of the series spends upward of an hour going back and forth through the subject in different ways: conversational, confessional and experimental. For conversational, Handler can be seen hanging out with friends. Some are famous, and some are other comedians. They get together to discuss the topic of the particular episode. Handler even talks to experts in the relevant field. For confessional, Handler can be seen in every episode talking one on one with a clinical psychologist. Last is experimental; Handler puts herself into different environments or even takes part of an experiment so she can learn something new.
In the episodes “Marriage,” “Race” and “Silicon Valley,” Handler engages herself in things she has a difficult time understanding or has a difficult relationship with it.
Whereas in the episode “Drugs,” Handler is a little more hands on. She smokes pot with musician Willie Nelson in his tour bus and travels to Peru to experience Ayahuasca.
Also, in the episode that deals with race, Handler explores different neighborhoods in Los Angeles that she didn’t know existed. She engages with black victims of police violence and travels to the deep south to interview people creepily accustomed to their own racism while also protecting her right to make jokes about everyone and anything.
“I think it’s important to think about the things you haven’t experienced and haven’t affected you directly,” Handler said in the documentary, “Because, in some way, they have.”
Handler’s last pitch for everyone is “not to take themselves so seriously.”