pop culture, Review, television


Season 1, Episode 1

Grade: A

When you’re a comedy kid growing up, you study comedians. When you’re an unfunny comedy kid, you really study comedians. When I was a kid, I watched clips of Dane Cook obsessively—relax, this was when we were all on that Cook train, you liars—and then I moved on to people like Mike Birbiglia, Demetri Martin, Jim Gaffigan, Loni Love, Amy Schumer, Gabriel Iglesias, Tina Fey and Bo Burnham. But a huge influence on my comedy and my writing and my funniness—besides Lorelai Gilmore—was Chelsea Handler.

After Chelsea Lately ended, Chelsea Handler went soul-searching. She did a bunch of standups—Uganda Be Kidding Me—and books—Uganda Be Kidding Me—and then the hilarious and insightful docuseries Chelsea Does.

And more than anything else, her new Netflix “talk show”, Chelsea, feels like a natural extension of Chelsea Does, which in turns is a natural extension of Chelsea Handler in a way that Chelsea Lately never was. During Lately, you could always feel the tension, the vague bitterness that Chelsea had towards E! and the sense of a caged tiger pacing behind bars.

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Source: Netflix

Chelsea made no bones about the fact that she kinda fucking hated E! and felt like an idiot doing Lately. And something she made very clear on the first episode of Chelsea, centered around education, is that she hates feeling like an idiot.

In a year of trying to “shake up” the talk show game, Chelsea manages to succeed where others have failed. And by “others” I know that you know that I’m talking about Kocktails with Khloe. Now, don’t get me wrong—I would take a bullet for Khloe Kardashian in a way that I would never for Chelsea Handler—but Kocktails felt like a total money-funded passion project, aimed at giving a new network star quality and a ratings boost.

In a similar way, Chelsea feels a little indulgent, and is the first step Netflix is taking at live-streaming rather than binge-worthy season drops. But Chelsea is smart and funny and not talking itself too seriously, whereas Kocktails always felt like it was a little too aware of the cameras. In the first episode, Chelsea does—but doesn’t—do a monologue, and sits behind a—very fancy, black—desk, turning it into a “meta, breaking the fourth wall” version of every late night talk show. And it feels almost on purpose—like Chelsea knows that she’s going to get compared to everyone else, so why not beat them to the punch?

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Source: Netflix

Some of the show was a little weird—the “Netflix University” faux-commercial was boring and didn’t feel cohesive—but Chelsea had some fucking impressive guests. Her first guest was the U.S. Secretary of Education, John King. At first, when he was testing her on basic education, it felt a little like “This is about you but it’s really about me,” but after that, the interview is actually interesting. They talk about the need for education, personal mentors, and other cool stuff. After that, Chelsea brought out Pitbull, who spent twenty minutes trying to chase down Chelsea’s dog Chunk, who was loitering in the background like a beautiful teddy bear. Pitbull is starting a charter school in Miami—Slam Academy—and continued on the theme of “teacher mentors.”

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Source: Netflix

I think this could really be Chelsea’s strong suit. Since it’s a three-times-a-week digital stream, rather than doing “trending topics” like Lately, Chelsea could do much better by connecting pop culture to a larger episodic theme, similar to each documentary of Chelsea Does. Like, who the fuck would’ve known that Pitbull would’ve started a charter school? And also how he got his nickname “Mr. Worldwide?” It’s cool.

Side bar: they did that thing I hate, which is having the first guest sit in on the second guest’s interview. You had the U.S. Secretary of Education watching Pitbull try to be BFFs with a dog. It always seems so awkward, like when Bill O’Reilly had to stay while Jimmy Fallon interviewed Lorde, and I was like, “Who tf is Bill O’Reilly?” and my mom was like, “Who tfudge is Lorde?”

After Pitbull went back to his kennel—someone stop me, please—Chelsea brought out Drew Barrymore. She began by talking about how she, like Chelsea, didn’t really receive an education, but how that drives her. She read the dictionary as a kid, which is the ultimate nerd-out. The conversation veers towards Drew’s divorce, which was surprisingly honest and raw and real—a testament to the intimacy of the stream—and then how she wants to be a cheerleader for women by discussing divorce, and raise her daughters to be awesome women. The interview felt fun and fresh, unlike when talk shows bring on guests who are forced to hawk their latest project.

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Source: Netflix

In one episode, Chelsea made me do what Kocktails couldn’t accomplish in twelve—make me want to keep watching. I want to see what the next topic is, and who she brings on. I want to see what this turns into.

Keep on, keeping on Chelsea.

pop culture, Review, television


Season 8, Episode 5

Grade: A/A+

(Written while on my bed. Sexy. I’m in the middle of finals—well, I’ve just finished/failed one out of two finals—and I rewarded myself with an episode of The Real Housewives of New York. I don’t think I’ve done a Real Housewives recap, so I think it’s appropriate to start with this one. This has been a long aside. Oh! I’m wearing skinny jeans! That’s not relevant, but I just want people to know I wear things other than joggers. Moving on.)

Because Beverly Hills has been such a disappointment all season long—thank god it’s over—everyone and their mother is jizzing themselves with excitement over New York. It’s fresh, it’s dynamic, it has authentic drama, and so far no one has mentioned Munchausen. Seriously, Andy Cohen is circle-jerking with a crowd of Upper East Side gays in pure happiness that RHOBH is over.

Side bar: For those of you who don’t know, the entirety of RHOBH was taken up by someone—Lisa Rinna—claiming that Yolanda Hadid (nee Yolanda Hadid Foster) actually had Munchausen Syndrome instead of Lyme Disease. This is fucked-up, especially coming from Lisa Rinna, who—I was about to say “Not to be rude” but I can’t say what I’m about to without being rude, so fuck it—has lips that can only be described as two car bumpers and got her asshole waxed on television. The second half of the season was taken up by who actually started the Munchausen conversation. Except for a brief sabbatical where Lisa Rinna and Lisa Vanderpump went to Ohio to purchase a mini pony, which Vanderpump ended up not buying, this was the entire season. God, I envy that mini-horse. It managed to get out before it was too late.

Side bar side bar: Can someone confirm/deny that Lisa Rinna and Detox from RuPaul’s Drag Race have the same mouth? Thanks.

So we’re at the fifth episode of RHONY and we’ve already had a huge “To be continued” fight, Dorinda slurring her words more than a sailor on leave in World War I, and Bethenny saying someone else has an eating disorder. AND WE’RE ON EPISODE FIVE.

After last week’s episode, the botched barbeque and Bethenny shoving a bagel into her face while destroying Jules’ house, this episode has fresh drama that doesn’t feel too cringey. Here are the highlights.

1). Bryn and (I’m assuming) her personal stylist have approved her outfits for a trip. I’m surprised Bethenny does carryon, because I assumed that only my dad did that, but I’m glad to see that another tight-pursed New Yorker does the same.

2). Jules and Bethenny: Okay, so I hated Jules the first episode. And the second episode. And then I forgot she existed for the third episode and half of the fourth episode. But now she and Bethenny sat down for a lunch and, after twenty minutes of dead air as Jules formulates her thoughts, she finally tells Bethenny that she was shitty at her brunch and ran out like a total Mean Girl™. One thing that I like about Bethenny, even when I want to push her onto an iceberg and set her out to sea, is that she really digs honesty. She was totally fine with Jules telling her that Bethenny hurt her feelings, and almost encouraged it. After a season of RHOBH skirting around who said what, Bethenny’s honesty is refreshing. Jules reciprocates and confides in Bethenny that she struggled with an eating disorder.

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Source: Bravo/ Just realizing this is the same weird shirt with elbow cutouts Dorinda wore earlier this season. Can’t we let this thing die?

Yaaaas! Not “Yaaaas” that Jules had an eating disorder, but “Yaaaas” that she’s using her platform to say something. That’s a fucking hard thing to say, but I think it’s so good in the long run. Bethenny seems actually affected by the confession, which is surprising because I thought she was going to call Carole and tell her that she owes her $10, and thanks Jules for the honesty.

3). I don’t have an internship for the summer; should I ask Sonja if I can clean up her dog poop in that UES townhouse? Maybe that’s why Luann moved in with her. God bless that poor intern. And where is Pickles???

4). Sonja is hot. I kinda just realized this. But her outfit at Ramona’s birthday lunch showed off how beautiful she is. But I absolutely cannot imagine how Sonja is as a mother.

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Source: Bravo

5). Ramona tells Sonja that she has a drinking problem and that’s why Ramona doesn’t hang out with her, because people judge you by the company you keep. Um, is this fucking Downton Abbey? No one gives a shit who you hang with; also, Ramona, you’re a human tornado with eyes that enter the room ten seconds before you do, so I doubt Sonja, who was married to John Adams Morgan, an old money banker millionaire, is really dragging down your image. Let’s not forget Ramona Pinot, you bug-eyed lamia.

Sonja isn’t buying Ramona’s crock of shit, possibly because she’s so used to having it on her floor. Whereas last season Sonja actually seemed like she had a problem, this season she seems better. Ramona is just trying to seem like the total ingénue. This season’s Eileen Davidson. Ouch, that was harsh. I apologize. My favorite moment was Ramona saying, “You’re in denial; it’s so sad,” which is absolutely the best way to make it seem like whoever you’re accusing of alcoholism is an alcoholic.

6). Carole might be the only 56(?)-year-old to actually pull off a twenty-year-old’s style. Like, we dress the same. And I dig it on her. Also I love her lip injections. And she slayed in that moto jacket over her red dress.

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Source: Bravo

7). When there’s a crossover between franchises, it’s more uncomfortable than seeing your parents tipsy at a holiday party. And funnily enough, that one snippet of Bethenny throwing the ladies of Beverly Hills a dinner party was more interesting than the entire RHOBH season. And that was, like, episode two.

8). Ramona now owns red. She has previously laid claim to blue, so it’s unclear if she’s giving up blue or just adding red to her arsenal. Is someone going to tell the cardinals in Vatican City that they’re going to have to change? Maybe they could do a deep emerald. Ramona Red.

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Source: Bravo

9). Luann, former Countess and current MMA fighter, has fallen far from her gilded perch. Her voice is lower than that military facility where District 13 lives in Mockingjay, and she’s now the “Don’t be Uncool” girl. At Ramona’s birthday lunch, she gives Bethenny a belated present—even though she already gave Bethenny a hula hoop at her birthday barbeque bonanza (who can top a hula hoop?)—in the form of a Carlos Falchi leather bag, embossed with Bethenny’s initials. That, in itself, is sweet. Until you get to Ramona.

Luann gave Ramona a necklace from her own line, which she had given her two months earlier and had to repair. LUANN REGIFTED A FORMER GIFT AND GAVE IT TO RAMONA. I’m living, and Ramona’s eyes pop out so far when she sees that Falchi bag that you can see the back of the inside of her skull.

That’s so not classy, to give someone an amazing gift at someone else’s birthday party, when you give the birthday girl a janky Claire’s knockoff necklace. How far Luann has fallen, and how much of a sacrifice it is to be “Cool.”

10). It might’ve just been the editing, but there were at least ten UES biddies who clamored around Bethenny and screeching, “You changed your hair!” like she was Moses giving the Israelites manna. You could practically see them smelling the youth off her, like the Sanderson Sisters.

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Source: Bravo/ The absolute fear of a woman surrounded.

11). Sonja implied that she might have a pube stuck in her eyelashes? And why does that make me like her more??


In this episode, RHONY has managed to do what RHOBH couldn’t—shake off a storyline. Sure, the John arc will come back, but RHONY was able to bring in fresh, organic drama to spice up the season. RHOBH, for all its trying, just keep resuscitating the cold dead corpse of Munchausen for twenty episodes. Which means we had to listen to Yolanda trying to pronounce “Munchausen” for twenty episodes. Yolanda, you speak, like, three languages—surely you can Google search how to pronounce “Munchausen.”

This was such a good episode that I had to write about it. I can only hope that it just keeps getting better. And that Sonja makes more uncomfortable small talk about blowjobs.