Now that Chelsea Handler is leaving her show Chelsea Lately at the end of the year, people are speculating about what her next move will be. The latest rumor puts her at CBS and angling to take over Craig Ferguson’s 12:30 spot. The network denies they’re in talks with her about replacing Craig, which is a relief since Craigy Ferg is amazing and I hope he never leaves. She’s apparently meeting with the network to talk about a syndicated show. Ever since Stephen Colbert was announced to replace David Letterman, the question of when a female late night host will make it to network TV has been brought up again.
I definitely think we’re long overdue for a female voice in the network late night game, but I don’t think Chelsea Handler is the way to go. I have a really complicated relationship with Chelsea. On the one hand, her show’s given a platform to a lot of rising comedians — including quite a few women. She’s also not afraid to call out sexism in the way the media talks about her show. And I’m all for being raunchy and cynical and even controversial if it’s done right. Unfortunately I don’t think Chelsea always does it right. Often it goes past snark and just appears lazy and mean-spirited, or controversial for the sake of being controversial. Whether you agree she goes over the line or not, that’s not the kind of thing that will work on network TV, if you’re male or female. It also doesn’t help that she makes little to no effort to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world, but that’s another story.
Here are just ten examples of the kind of controversial comedy that should rule Chelsea off network TV forever.
1. When she used 12 Years a Slave to promote her book about Africa.
Chelsea Handler took over HuffPost’s Twitter account for the Oscars, and when both Lupita Nyong’o and 12 Years a Slave won, she used it as an opportunity to promote her new book about her trip to Africa.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) March 3, 2014
To make matters worse, she defended herself by using the classic “I sleep with black guys so I’m allowed to say racist things” excuse.
2. When she made fun of Honey Boo Boo’s weight.
Making fun of Honey Boo Boo is always a slippery slope, because she’s a child, and also because the jokes about her are often about her appearance. When Chelsea had Fortune Feimster, an overweight adult woman, come out in a tutu and said that’s what Honey Boo Boo will look like “in two years,” it kind of crossed the line. Also how unoriginal.
3. When she made fun of Kirstie Alley’s weight.
Speaking of overused weight jokes, Chelsea also took aim at Kirstie Alley and her stint on Dancing With the Stars:
“I mean obviously I had to watch it when Kirstie Alley was on because I wanted to see what was going to happen to the floor.”
When the best thing you can come up with to insult someone is that they’re fat, you’re not only mean, you’re also kind of lazy.
4. When she made fun of Mariah Carey’s weight.
Again with the weight. It seems to be a favorite topic of Chelsea’s.
“She’s worse than Elizabeth Taylor. She’s just so ridiculous with her body. You see her one day and she’s like 50 pounds heavier or lighter, I mean what is she doing?”
There are so many things to make fun of Mariah for. Yet her fluctuating weight is the thing you choose? How is that something to hate someone for?
5. When she made fun of Ashley Olsen’s weight.
Once again with the weight, this time on the thin end of the spectrum. Here’s what she said about Ashley dating Lance Armstrong:
“It must be pretty serious, because he gave her one of his Livestrong bracelets, which she’s using as a belt.”
6. When she said Tori Spelling looks like a man.
Comedians who have to constantly go after people’s appearances just aren’t very funny to me. Even after Tori Spelling showed a sense of humor about Chelsea’s ribbing of her, Chelsea went after her in the same way:
“I want to thank her for being able to take a joke. I’m going to try my hardest not to tell her she looks like a man anymore. It’s not nice. Even if it’s true, it’s not nice.”
7. When she called Angelina Jolie the C-word.
We all know Chelsea Handler hates Angelina Jolie because she’s BFF with Jennifer Aniston and wants to defend her, which I actually respect. I’m also not especially fond of Angelina’s personality, although I think she definitely does a lot of admirable things. But calling her the C-word is a bit unnecessary:
“She can rescue as many babies from as many countries as she wants to. I don’t f**king believe you … she gives interviews, ‘I don’t have a lot of female friends.’ Cause you’re a f**king c**t … you’re a f**king b***h.”
Could we just stop using that word in general, please?
8. When she insulted little people.
Chelsea loooooves little people, as evidenced by her “little nugget” sidekick Chuy. Her attitude about them is often condescending, but few things compared to her reasoning for not wanting to sleep with a little person:
“No, that would be child abuse. I’d never do that.”
News flash: Little people are not children, and referring to them as such is incredibly insulting and also not funny.
9. When she made fun of Chaz Bono.
Chelsea and her show thought it was hilarious that Chaz Bono is transgender, and they had a laugh about it when he was announced as a DWTS cast member:
“The Dancing with the Stars cast has been announced and, this is season 13, it includes Chaz Bono, otherwise known as Chastity Bono [laughs] before she got her penis [laughs]….”
Chelsea Handler might actually be a 10-year-old boy disguised as an adult woman.
10. When her show made fun of Amanda Bynes.
Because for a while it wasn’t totally clear what was behind Amanda Bynes’ troubled behavior, the media spent a long time making fun of her. But once Amanda was placed under a 5150 hold and it became clear this was a serious matter of mental health, the jokes should have stopped. But they didn’t for Chelsea Lately. Here’s what panelist Heather McDonald said during the discussion:
“You’re staying for 14 days, we don’t know if anyone’s gonna visit you, TMZ’s gonna be outside — you’re a freak.”
To be fair, this wasn’t Chelsea’s personal comment, but condoning the use of words like “freak” on your show to describe someone who’s genuinely troubled won’t cut it on network TV — and shouldn’t cut it anywhere, to be honest.