Saturday 22 October 2016

New on netflix: Netflix gets its chat on as Chelsea says hello

Chelsea Available now, 3 episodes so far

Donal Lynch

Published 16/05/2016 | 02:30

Wine, women and song... Drew Barrymore and Coldplay were first guests on Chelsea Handler's new chat show on Netflix.
Wine, women and song... Drew Barrymore and Coldplay were first guests on Chelsea Handler's new chat show on Netflix.

Is Chelsea Handler the most annoyingly raspy lady ever to appear on television? Or the heir apparent to Joan Rivers who is revolutionising the concept of confrontational comedic interviews? This new series of her Netflix chat show will no doubt confirm both views to those who hold them.

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It debuted this week, and the first guest we saw was Chris Martin. The Coldplay singer performed Everglow as a tribute to Handler, who he said would be taking the show's stage for the last time. When Chelsea appeared a few minutes later, she cleared things up for anyone who may have been confused. "This is actually the first show. It's not the last show. So, it's supposed to be like a hello song." (Adele anyone?). It's hello, Netflix will be hoping, to big interest in their first chat show. In the trailer, the comedian said that she was "treating this show like the college education I never got," "Netflix is giving me a full ride." And she wasn't kidding. Her first guest was US Secretary of Education John B. King. They discussed influential teachers they'd known. Thankfully he was followed up by Drew Barrymore, who brought wine and ageless charm. Strangely, given her usual armour of cattiness, Chelsea actually seemed a tad unsure of herself in these interviews. And it could be that a pinch of insecurity is just what this show needs to dapple the incandescence of the host's self-belief.

Lady Dynamite Available from May 20

In the first scene of the first episode of Maria Bamford's new Netflix show, Lady Dynamite, she's roused from a daydream (a bizarre shampoo ad; it's a wacky and well timed start) to discover that she's been given her own show. "I have a show?" she asks. A production assistant confirms. Then Bamford addresses the camera: "I'm a 45-year-old woman who's clearly sun-damaged. My skin is getting softer but my bones are jutting out, so I'm half soft, half sharp! And I have a show! What a great late-in-life opportunity!" We couldn't agree more. Bamford plays herself, a comedian who is looking to ease down the pace of her life after recovering from a nervous breakdown, to no avail. The series features a song, which flashbacks to a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. There we see Bamford make her group therapist cry during an antic game of something called 'Truth Badminton.' There are echoes of some of Amy Schumer's sketches as we see her agent set her up with some strange jobs: advertising an apparently sexy new Japanese food called Pussy Noodle. Outside the workplace, we see her considering a date someone has set up for her. "He's bisexual," she's told. "But he also has a crippling meth addiction." Bamford doesn't hesitate. "Sounds good!" Trust us this looks better on the screen than it does on the page.

Requiem for the American Dream Available now

We'll never forget that item on The Russell Brand Show years ago, called Cheer Up Chomsky. Ol Noam never did really cheer up and there apparently isn't much to cheer him up now either. This is his stinging indictment of the American dream - a concept that, at root, says Chomsky, equals class mobility. But unlike generations who lived through the Great Depression, he insists, Americans today have no hope that their class status will improve. In this long-form interview (more interesting in an American context because you would never see this on TV there; Chomsky would be drowned out by one or more squawking heads), the intellectual and author outlines 10 principles for how "the masters" who occupy the top 1pc of the economic hierarchy maintain control over the rest of us.

Here, as in his political writings, he forms a persuasive argument for class revolution by connecting disparate-seeming institutions and laws.

The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, for example, essentially allowed corporations to control political advertising. Chomsky argues that the economic majority has been continuously led to vote against its interests, and today is left confused as to why its financial future looks so dire. Visually it's pretty boring, but in an election year his thoughts have never seemed more pertinent.

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