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Chelsea Lately on E!

Episode Summary





It is a cliché that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Yet like most, this cliché is true…and so-called “comedienne” Chelsea Handler could learn wisdom from it.  The irony should be lost on no one that, while Handler whines incessantly about the “Real Housewives” and the Kardashians having TV shows and being famous, Handler herself has a TV show and is famous, solely for talking about her drunken sexual escapades. (Indeed, NBC recently premiered the sitcom Are You There, Chelsea?, based on Handler’s personal life.)

Having built her entire entertainment career on boasting about her alcoholic promiscuity, Handler is hardly entitled to be condescending about anyone else. Yet such condescension – not to say hypocrisy -- forms the core of Handler’s half-hour “talk” show on the E! cable network (formerly home to such scintillating entertainment as octogenarian smutmonger Hugh Hefner and his three identical “girlfriends” on The Girls Next Door, or the breast-and-genital enlargement surgery show Dr. 90210).  For forcing cable subscribers to pay for smutty, humorless, drunken tirades – many of which E! rates as being appropriate for children – E!’s Chelsea Lately (weeknights, 11:00 p.m. ET) is the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week.

While typically this column discusses a single episode of a given program, most programs air original content only once each week. However, Chelsea Lately is on every weeknight; as a result, an entire week’s worth of programming (January 9-13, 2012) was examined. In so doing, this reviewer discovered that the program is ideal for those who have accidentally ingested a toxic substance, as Chelsea Lately makes for a powerful emetic.

In format, the show opens with a brief monologue by Handler, in which she boasts about her experiences with drinking, promiscuous sex, drug use, or all three. Then follows a panel-style discussion with a collection of has-been or never-were stand-up comics, as they and Handler comment on various salacious items in the news. In a final coda, Handler insults her “personal assistant” Chuy, one of the panelists, her brother, or any other target who comes to mind.

Naturally, crass-bordering-on-disgusting banter is the order of the day, during which sundry insipid, lewd, and bigoted graphic wisecracks are made by the panel. The following examples are typical of the show's content:


  • Chelsea: “Before American Idol, Ryan Seacrest polishes Julianna Huff’s areola.”


  • Chelsea: “If you’re gonna use racial slurs, at least be a little creative. Instead of ‘chinky eyes,’ say ‘sideways vagina.’”


  • Chelsea refers to an African-American man whose cat scratches his wife, but not him:

Chelsea: “I guarantee that is not the first time a black man has tamed an aggressive pussy.”


  • Chelsea discusses Botox:

Chelsea: “Don’t get that in your lips. Neither set of lips. I you have skinny lips up here, you have skinny lips down there…Did Lindsay Lohan show her pikachu in Playboy?”


  • Chelsea quotes a news story about a drunk woman rubbing her rear against an expensive painting:

Jeff Wild: “That’s why the Mona Lisa looks so depressed. She wants a drunk girl to sit on her face…If you’re gonna rub your ass on a painting, it should at least be a finger painting so you’ll get some penetration.”


  • Heather McDonald discusses sniffing Liquid Paper in the 1980s, and concludes her laudatory statement with the words, “Kids, go to Office Depot!”


  • During a discussion of Chelsea’s recreational drug use, she notes that she takes sleeping pills.

Lavell Crawford: “I don’t know why you need sleeping pills. There’s no oxygen in that little head of yours.”

Chelsea (grabs and squeezes her breasts): “I got all my oxygen right here.”


  • Chelsea discusses anal bleaching, and a news item about an Iranian man who had his penis tattooed, resulting in a permanent erection.


  • Chelsea discusses the Nevada Bunny Ranch bordello’s political endorsement of Ron Paul, and a story about a man who exposed himself in front of a theater of children attending the movie Chipwrecked. The discussion concludes with a comedy sketch about a pimp.


  • The panel "humorously" discusses abortion:

Sarah Colonna: “In California, it’s illegal to get a tan if you’re under 18 without parental consent; but you can get an abortion. So you have to go to  your abortion day all pasty white? Every girl wants to look her best on her abortion day.

Matt Braumger: “When is Abortion Day? I always forget to get presents for all my            friends.”

Sarah: “It’s usually on a Sunday, because it’s after the weekend.”


  • Chelsea welcomes guest Bill Maher, and joins him in slandering various Republican presidential candidates.

Maher: “Religion makes people crazy…[religious people] just can’t think straight.”

Chelsea: “I hate Newt Gingrich, and everyone watching this show must also hate him…The point is to influence all my young girl [fans] who don’t know any better. You must hate Newt Gingrich, you understand?”


Not to be overlooked are Handler’s monologues:


  • “For a girl, the first week of college is tough. You have to find your classes, make new friends, figure out which girl you’re gonna experiment bumping pink erasers with. But speaking as an ex-con, I can tell you the hardest first week is the one you spend in jail. Just like college, you’ve gotta figure out quick which girl is going to go easiest on your pikachu. [shows a clip of a man explaining to his grandmother via phone that he’s been jailed for pandering.] “There are a few words you don’t want to have to repeat in a phone call to your grandmother. ‘Pimp’ is one. ‘AIDS’ is another. But even grandma knows it’s hard out there for a pimp, and now that he’s in jail I’m sure she’ll start knitting him a nice, big butt-plug.” (January 11, 2012)
  • “There’s a first time for everything. The first time you try peach schnapps, the first time you touch a woman’s breasts, the first time you have sex, and the first time you try crystal meth. Luckily for me, I got all those out of the way during one crazy day in fifth grade.” (January 13, 2012)


Finally, in a supreme demonstration of self-interest, on her January 13th episode Handler  interviewed Laura Prepon, star of NBC’s Are You There, Chelsea?, in a clear bid to promote the show in which Handler also stars, and from which she is making even more money. (Also not coincidentally, the E! network is owned by Comcast, which last year bought NBC.) In the course of the interview, repeated reference is made to the promiscuity of the sitcom’s Handler-based lead character, particularly the fact that she has sex with a different man in every episode. Chelsea closed the interview by boasting about what a “drunken slut” she is in real life.

Any clear-minded observer would conclude that such content is totally inappropriate for young viewers; yet the E! network consistently rated Chelsea Lately TV-PG DLS throughout the week. Not TV-14, appropriate for 14 year olds (which would be bad enough), but PG, which the TV Ratings Board describes as a program “parents may want to watch it with their younger children.” The additional letters in the rating  indicate that the show may also contain “some suggestive dialogue (D), infrequent coarse language (L), or sexual situations (S).” Obviously, Chelsea Lately contains far more than merely “suggestive dialogue;” yet still E! considers the show appropriate for children under 14. Indeed, Handler herself addresses many remarks to her “girls,” young women and teens whom she is apparently encouraging to emulate her drunken, drug-fuelled, sex-crazed antics.

Even more distasteful, if possible, is the fact that every cable subscriber in America – Democrat or Republican, parent or grandparent, religionist or teetotaler – is FORCED by cable giant (and E! and NBC owner) Comcast to subsidize Chelsea Lately, no matter how harmful or offensive they find the program’s content. Apparently, Comcast believes extortion is acceptable when it comes to promoting their foul-mouthed comic.

Only when subscribers DEMAND that Congress pass laws allowing them the freedom to support only the programs they actually want to watch will parents be safe from Comcast glamorizing Chelsea Handler’s irresponsible lifestyle and behavior to millions of children.

For deluging viewers with noisome content, E!’s Chelsea Lately is the Worst Cable TV Show of the Week.

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