“Chelsea Does” offers thought-provoking (and sometimes provocative) fun

Chelsea Does offers thought-provoking (and sometimes provocative) fun

Maggie Curran, Opinion Editor

Comedian Chelsea Handler has done stand-up. She’s done talk shows. She’s done books. Now, she is doing something new: a Netflix original documentary series called “Chelsea Does,” and from the look of it, there really isn’t much Handler won’t do.

With four episodes in season one, each roughly an hour in length, “Chelsea Does” doesn’t waste any time in getting to the point: it’s here to inform and entertain on any topic Handler chooses. Each episode centers on a different theme: “Chelsea Does Marriage,” “Chelsea Does Silicon Valley,” “Chelsea Does Racism” and “Chelsea Does Drugs.” Each episode is also an entirely different experience with the exception of one constant: Handler’s perfectly timed subtle and sarcastic dry humor eloquently displayed on every adventure she finds herself.

Make no mistake, though, some of the topics discussed on her show are no laughing matter. Especially in the case of “Chelsea Does Racism.” Handler goes deep into the issue, exploring the Mexican-American border, chatting with Confederate-supporters and plantation owners in the Deep South and even interviewing the family of Freddie Gray, an unarmed African-American man who was gunned down by a police officer. Sure, there are funny moments and laughable people featured throughout every episode, but this series is anything but pure comedy.

Above all, it’s clear that this show was really meant for one person: Handler. It explores topics that she is interested in, allows her to grow and discover through a variety of experiences and highlights her comedic genius in a way her past works haven’t. We as viewers are just along for the ride. It isn’t a performance; it isn’t staged or prepared material; it’s Handler’s honest reactions and feelings. Some viewers will agree and relate to a lot of what Handler says. Others will often find fault in her opinions and logic. That’s okay, because that’s the point. If you walk away from this series with any gained perspective at all, then the show has done its job.

As someone who was never a huge fan of Handler, it’s interesting to see such a remarkably human side of a celebrity who often seemed out of this world. She’s known for being brazen, unfiltered and sometimes even offensive, but it’s easy to assume that side of her is just for show. However, if “Chelsea Does” does anything, it proves that with Handler, what you see is what you get. She is unapologetically herself 100 percent of the time.

Perhaps the best summation of the series as a whole comes from Handler herself. While discussing the possibility of her eventual visit to a Native American reservation in “Chelsea Does Racism,” Handler stated that her goal is to always experience as much as possible, whether it is good or bad. “Chelsea Does” is just that: one woman experiencing whatever she can and throwing in a witty comment or glance whenever possible. For those of us without unlimited funds to do the same, “Chelsea Does” is the closest thing we’ll get to doing it ourselves.