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Handler's new Netflix show shares her curious pursuits

click to enlarge A newer, smarter Chelsea Handler?
  • A newer, smarter Chelsea Handler?

When the loud and brash Chelsea Handler left her longtime talk show Chelsea Lately on E! in 2014, she promised she'd be back with something better. She said she was taking her talents to Netflix, but details were murky. Now, six months into her new talk show Chelsea, which features new episodes each week, we have a better idea of what that means.

Unlike her old show, where she was frequently forced to talk about things she didn't care about, such as anything Kardashian- or Justin Bieber-related, Chelsea allows its host to explore things she's interested in learning more about (besides herself) like foreign cultures, politics and sports. She's visited far-off places like Mexico and Russia, and even the crazy land of Florida. She interviews old men and children, her own staff members and a slew of famous people. Her dog Chunk is allowed to roam free on stage, while she toggles between self-deprecating pre-taped bits, thoughts of the day and interviews.

As it sits right now, Chelsea has a terrible 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that was based on the initial episodes of her show. Reviewers had hoped the new show would be more out-of-the-box, like her Netflix original Chelsea Does miniseries, but instead were met with a host who struggled through her first weeks. Now, with about 20 episodes left of this first season, Handler has found her groove, and the show has been renewed for another 90-episode season.

This is a woman who has written memoirs about her drunken one-night stands, has no qualms about baring her breasts and is wildly proud of the fact that she has no children. To say the least, her outspoken demeanor upsets many. But through the new show, even if you don't agree with her, you're learning something.

When she didn't understand Brexit, she brought in an economist to explain its complexities. When actress and pal Shannen Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had her on to talk about the scary realities of the disease. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was even booked, but ended up canceling. Handler wants you to see the world around you. Yes, sometimes that means she invites her friends on to hang out and her questions aren't as interesting as they once were, but this is a new, smarter Handler in every possible way.

Watch new episodes of Chelsea every Wednesday through Friday on Netflix.

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