BLOGS

The Telefile
<I>Are You There, Chelsea?</i>: A Surprisingly Successful Buddy Comedy for the Weaker Sex

I'm not really sure who over at NBC thought it would be a wise decision to kick off Are You There, Chelsea? with Chelsea (Laura Prepon) getting arrested for a DUI. Apparently, the story is taken from Chelsea Handler's actual book, but trying to get audiences on board with a character who drinks and drives seems like an impossibly worse idea than convincing people to accept the idea of a mancession or tolerate Whitney Cummings. Even worse, those few minutes also managed to make me appreciate Ryan Murphy for giving Dot Jones the chance to play a character on Glee who's not a "lesbian jailbird." Yeesh.

But once the initial awkwardness of the first few minutes of the pilot subsided, I actually really enjoyed Chelsea. I'm not particularly a fan of Handler, so I can't speak too much about how accurate the show is to Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, but as a standalone comedy, it's got its charms. Sure, it's outrageous, and slips in a few too many shock-value gross-out lines than necessary, but it isn't absolutely obsessed or in-your-face about how edgy it is -- instead, it seems intent on being a series about an unapologetic, aggressive young woman who doesn't need huge vulnerabilities to be likable and who is friends with other women who don't feel required to talk about men all day. It's basically every counter to the common criticism about women in romantic comedies crammed into a few characters... and it actually works, on a certain level.

I think if it wasn't for the amount of experience that show creators Julie Ann Larson and Dottie Zicklin have under their belt (they've both worked on successful sitcoms before, including The Drew Carey Show, Dharma & Greg, Caroline in the City and Cybil), this show could have dangerously become very hokey, very quickly. But instead, there is a level of heart and commitment on the part of the talent involved. Prepon may come off a bit drier than need be (and to all of the five people in the world who actually also watched Slackers, she basically reprises her role from that movie), but she seems to have fun with her character, as does Handler herself, who plays her fictionalized sister to Prepon's Chelsea. The supporting cast -- which includes Lenny Clarke, Jake McDorman, Mark Povinelli (who doesn't get stuck being the punchline of gross little person jokes -- yay!) and newcomer Lauren Lapkus -- make a fine little universe to the show's world.

I genuinely look forward to watching Chelsea flesh itself out as time progresses, because as it stands now (and in the second episode, to a slightly less degree), the show faces the challenge of actually being about something. Then again, with so few series on right now starring women who don't regularly get degraded by men, maybe there's a place for it to just hang out after all.

Did the International Vodka Council nix the original name of this show? Vlogger Sean Crespo investigates:

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

What are people saying about your favorite shows and stars right now? Find out with Talk Without Pity, the social media site for real TV fans. See Tweets and Facebook comments in real time and add your own -- all without leaving TWoP. Join the conversation now!

Comments

SHARE THE SNARK

X

Get the most of your experience.
Share the Snark!

See content relevant to you based on what your friends are reading and watching.

Share your activity with your friends to Facebook's News Feed, Timeline and Ticker.

Stay in Control: Delete any item from your activity that you choose not to share.

MOST RECENT POSTS

BLOG ARCHIVES

The Telefile

March 2014

25 ENTRIES

February 2014

24 ENTRIES

January 2014

43 ENTRIES

December 2013

15 ENTRIES

November 2013

28 ENTRIES

October 2013

40 ENTRIES

September 2013

37 ENTRIES

August 2013

16 ENTRIES

July 2013

15 ENTRIES

June 2013

26 ENTRIES

May 2013

38 ENTRIES

April 2013

43 ENTRIES

March 2013

35 ENTRIES

February 2013

58 ENTRIES

January 2013

62 ENTRIES

December 2012

48 ENTRIES

November 2012

60 ENTRIES

October 2012

71 ENTRIES

September 2012

67 ENTRIES

August 2012

66 ENTRIES

July 2012

51 ENTRIES

June 2012

60 ENTRIES

May 2012

70 ENTRIES

April 2012

73 ENTRIES

March 2012

72 ENTRIES

February 2012

64 ENTRIES

January 2012

80 ENTRIES

The Latest Activity On TwOP