I do admire her –but it’s a complicated relationship.
Here are things I love:
1) She’s a total super bitch. I think I’m a nice person–at times even a sweet person some might say–but I have my edgy side too. Occasionally I feel the nicey-nice thing we do in feminine society is a little stifling. Chelsea is a total palate antidote. She takes snark to a higher level.
2) She’s got that rare gift of just sitting there not saying anything yet and you already want to crack up and laugh. That’s talent.
3)Also she says these things that we just don’t get to hear from women . She’ll say: “especially for someone like me who’s not even going to have a kid,” We understand from the context that this is ‘by choice’. Yay for a woman who is up front about her choice not to have kids. We don’t see that often enough and this is, after all, 2013.
4) She has a favorite line: That’s annoying.
She’ll use it in response to anything: “I’ve fallen in love” a guest will say. The audience cheers. Chelsea’s response: “That’s annoying.”
“To others it may seem like they’re taking advantage of me, but I don’t mind.” — “That’s annoying.”
“Lucinda, who suffers from children’s leukemia was able to get a bone marrow transplant this year–” “That’s annoying.”
I don’t know why, but yes, I crack up almost any time she says this. It’s got a classic, Good for you, but what about me? underlying tone. She’s not unhappy for them, she’s just feeling her own lack. These super-stars seem to have so much–looks, fortune, popularity–that when they wrinkle their cute noses and comment on their great good luck, you just want to squeeze them to death a little. Chelsea does not create this kind of envy. She never makes life look easy.
5) She’ll say the darndest things: to Elizabeth Moss for instance, “Are you having sex this year?”
6) The sexual chemistry she has with Blake Shelton is ridiculous. He, meanwhile, is a perfect foil for her. After she’s been giving him sh** all night she says:
“Not that I’d sleep with you anyway,” and then there’s a long pause. She can’t help but imagine how it would go down if she DID, “–because you have a girlfriend.” she finally finishes. “And I’m not like that.”
He gives her an irritated look. “Yes you are.”
He calls her out on it–and she can’t say anything while the audience is dying– because yes she is. I’m guessing if she wants something she just goes right for it.
Her show is quite edgy. Her show is also raw. It seems under-staffed for their level of ambition, so sometimes it flops about and looks messy. There’s a perpetual behind the scenes kind of feel to it.
I end up feeling uneasy while I’m watching it. Here’s why:
1) Handler looks old for 36. Either she’s lying about her age, or she’s suffered tremendously, or conversely, she’s been a drunken insomniac for the last decade. At any rate, it shows on her face, and makes me sad.
2) The stiletto face off: man, you watch that show and some of the best looking shoes in the world are there. More than half the time I’m not even looking at the guest’s faces because I’m checking out their shoes–and Chelsea’s. Is this a coincidence–that the camera is aimed lower? Or is it some subverted appeal to a woman audience? Because if it’s the later, they got me. Ugh.
3)When the show is a little more raw, or steers towards really cruel/mysogynistic mis-fires, Chelsea gives this deadpan take to the Camera. Like she’s saying she’s not as in charge of her show as she would like, and there are these compromises that lacerate her feminist soul. At the bottom of that glance is a kind of vulnerability. What must she have had to withstand to become a successful comedian? AND to have a late night show? Hollywood is already a shark tank, the female comedian thing is just like adding bloody chum to water. Watching her swim in that frothy mess, I feel for her–though I’m probably reading far too much into these glances.
4) Chelsea scares me a little. I like her – I admire all kinds of things about her – her taste in clothing, her shoes, the guests she has on the show, the comedians she has on the show – that she’s like the anti-Ellen, (but I like Ellen too). That she’s got the best late night show on the air–I really like all these things.
At the same time, I’m completely convinced she’d hate me if she met me in real life. She’s tough. She’s not girly. There’s a part of me that’s is just a big old squishy slice of girly-pie, and I fear for that part of me when I’m near someone like Handler.
For instance, Olivia Wilde is on the show, and they discuss the “what is it with women with low voices who suddenly talk high and squeaky?” It’s all about pleasing waiters or men. That’s what they decide. The high voices thing–that’s me, totally. Yup. You should hear me in traffic court talking to a judge. My voice is sub-sonic–only squirrels, birds and maybe dolphins can interpret my words.
In the end though, the best part is taking the journey with Handler is watching how she navigates life.
When Handler has Reese Witherspoon on the show, you sense an instinctive tension between the two. Ostensibly friends, you suspect that they’re more likely connected through other people more than they are mutually drawn to each other. At any rate, Reese is on the show, and she’s already looking prepared not to take any sh** from Chelsea and will not be ashamed of her super-intense hostess ways at her yearly Christmas party.
Meanwhile, Handler is leading them through the story of Reese’s Christmas party where Handler, who is jewish, has another jewish woman on her lap, and they are navigating the Christmas caroling part of the evening like two high school boys in Tijuana. There is a “tee-hee this scary, but fun! Let’s hope we don’t get busted.” kind of tone to the story Chelsea tells with Reese. And they do get busted Reese. They don’t know the tunes to the Christmas carols, they don’t know the words…they are relentless jewishness in the face of American culture norms and Reese isn’t having any of it.
To sum it up, Chelsea is completely lost in a world of cute. Stilettos that could pierce a bare man’s chest are one thing–but the cute world of kids, cute animals, and Reese Witherspoon is the equivalent of a perilous jungle safari for Handler. She is relentlessly undomesticated, and ultimately, that’s what I admire most about her.