NBC established its new "funny women" block of comedy for Wednesday nights by transplanting "Whitney" from Thursdays to serve as the lead-in to Chelsea Handler's new semi-biographical sitcom "Are You There, Chelsea?" (Wed., 9 p.m. EST on Bravo). While it hasn't been too well-received by critics, including HuffPost TV's own Maureen Ryan, audiences got their first chance to see Laura Prepon as Chelsea Newman and Handler as her pious older sister.
The premiere quickly established what kind of person Chelsea is, with audiences meeting her drinking and quickly getting a DUI. There was some fun to be had with Dot-Marie Jones ("Glee") as a cellmate that Chelsea, in a moment of panic, perhaps bonded too closely with. That joke came around full circle again at the end.
The bulk of the episode took place in either Chelsea's new apartment with her best friend Olivia (Ali Wong) and their dippy new roommate Dee Dee (Lauren Lapkus), or the bar she and Olivia work at. After his work on "Rescue Me," Lenny Clarke, playing Chelsea's father, seems a bit out of sorts in the traditional sitcom format.
Laura Prepon ambitiously compared "Chelsea" to "Cheers," one of the most successful traditional sitcoms of all time. Time will tell if it can match the creative chemistry, longevity, acclaim and success of the place where everybody knows your name. If critics are right, it seems a long shot at best.
"Are You There, Chelsea?" continues every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. EST On NBC.
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