Wednesday, January 18, 2012

REVIEW: Are you there, Chelsea?

NBC Wednesday 8:30/7:30 Central

Are you funny, Chelsea?  Are you there, Humor?  Are you there, Audience?  Are you cancelled, Chelsea?

These are just some of the headlines that will surely accompany articles about NBC's new show based on Chelsea Handler's book, "Are you there, Vodka?  It's me, Chelsea."  The problem with this show is that it takes Chelsea Handler's book, and thus her views and takes on life and tries to make it into a successful observational sitcom.

The problem is that it doesn't work.

1.  Does it entertain me?
The actors involved appear to be trying, they are really hoping for laughs.  The problem is that the material is just so shallow and plays for cheap laughs.  There doesn't appear to be any sort of real creativity involved, and everything seems forced.  It is a show rite with sex jokes directed at the lowest common denominator, hoping to rope in the female audience.

However, it treats that female audience like idiots, and like people who are not capable of understanding sophistication.  It makes it seem like women want to work in bars and not go to college and live their lives as if they are 22 years old.  And this is all women.  They are shallow and hopeless in their life, and want nothing more than casual sex and more vodka.

This is all quite unfortunate, because NBC has given us so many great comedies ("Community" and "Parks and Recreation" are 2 of the three funniest shows on television right now), and then they follow that up with this trite.

The show tries to be sentimental, but it never quite nails that mix of humor and love the way that something like "How I met your Mother" does.  It also doesn't have a lot of promising characters, people who exist for more than just a cheap laugh.

2.  Is it realistic?
In the way that I can see this all actually happening, yes.  I can.  People work in bars all the time, and they move closer to their workplaces, too, so they can live their lives of debauchery and drunkenness, in essence, continuing their college experience.

I find it unrealistic that they would all be so unfunny, though.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
Yes.  One of the running jokes is about Chelsea having sex with her bartender boss.  It's crass and never gets funny.  Which is the bigger sin in the television world?

Moreover, DUIs are made light of, dating is seen as a means to sex, and there's a colorblind midget.  Which seems like it should be funny, but not even Tyrion Lannister could pull that off.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Chelsea does have a pregnant sister that she visits in the hospital while having her baby.  There is no marriage in the show, and there is no sense that people find children and family important to society.

So I'm going to answer this question with a "no."
"Are you there, Chelsea?" makes no sense as a title, and it makes even less sense as a show.  It's not funny, it's not entertaining, and it's not worth your time.

Plus, it's paired with "Whitney" on Wednesday nights, which might make this the worst night on television.

Grade: D

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