Are You There, Chelsea? stars That 70s Show alum Laura Prepon as a one-dimensional version of Handler. The real Chelsea appears on the show, but she’s too busy being amazing on her talk show Chelsea Lately to rescue the sinking sitcom. If fans of Chelsea Handler weren’t already skeptical of NBC’s new sitcom based on her life and humor books, the pilot should be enough to raise doubts.
One of the things that bothered me most about Whitney when I first saw it was that the title sequence makes a point of telling the viewer that the show is taped in front of a live studio audience… yeah, you heard her! This truly aggravated me though because it was so blatantly obvious that despite having an audience, ninety-five percent of the laughter was canned. This becomes especially obvious when you fade into a scene and the laughter has already begun. With Chelsea, the laugh track is actually used quite well.
The idea of the show is that Chelsea Handler’s life before she became famous is immensely interesting. That’s pretty much it. She works in a bar. She lives in an apartment with her friends. She gets into tiffs with her ultra-religious sister, Sloane (played by the actual Handler, in a move certain to confuse at least a few people). She occasionally shoots the shit with her dad. She’s supposed to be our normal girl heroine, just somebody searching for direction in a directionless world and hoping that she can get out of the various scrapes she lands in—like ending up in jail—by sincerely entreating her deity vodka to come down and get her out of those jams. (Okay, I don’t think Chelsea actually worships vodka; this would be a better show if she did.) Along the way, she propositions a lesbian in order to get protection while in jail, hooks up with her sister’s ex, clumsily fills us in on the backstory, and wanders along, rambling about whatever she does as she does it.
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