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"Are You There, Chelsea's crass jokes

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Are You There Chelsea Laura Prepon
Jordin Althaus/NBC

For Chelsea Handler fans, Are You There, Chelsea? may be harder to swallow than that first shot of vodka.

You can check out Ken Tucker’s full review of the premiere — he wasn’t impressed either. Much like the show’s lead-in, Whitney, Chelsea tries real hard to shock us with crass jokes. I’m no prude, but the show seemed determined to establish just how edgy it could be. In the process, the humor wound up feeling forced.

A recurring joke from the premiere featured bartender Chelsea (Laura Prepon) explaining why she could never fool around with her cute co-worker Rick, (Jake McDorman): When it came to fooling around, they both liked to be on top. It warranted a smile the first time, but the writers just kept repeating the joke, perhaps under the mistaken impression that it would only get funnier. It didn’t.

Other did-they-really-just-go-there punchlines involved a little-person bartender (Handler fans know her not-always-PC fascination), as well as an extended joke about hooking up with redheads. “I was kind of curious to be with my first redhead. But while I had made peace with the drapes, I forgot about the carpet. It was like a clown in a leglock.” Groan.

The humor also grated when we were introduced to one of Chelsea’s new roommates, Dee Dee (Lauren Lapkus), who appeared to have been given every single romantic comedy best friend cliché in the book. She was a virgin, acted like a dorky 12-year-old, and (of course) loved cats. I enjoy Prepon, but even she couldn’t save lines to Dee Dee like, “If (these brownies) have hash in them, I want to marry you and adopt a biracial baby,” and “This place is giving me lady wood.”

Bad Girls Go Crass is certainly a trend this season. Between Whitney, Chelsea and those 2 Broke Girls (who made their own raunchy headlines yesterday at their TCA press conference) it seems that in a post-Sex and the City world, TV writers think pretty ladies + gross out gags and phrases are a new winning formula. I certainly can appreciate a good dirty joke. But just being vulgar isn’t enough to carry a sitcom. Or, at least, not a sitcom I’ll be laughing at for long.

PopWatchers: Are you a fan of the “shocking” humor? Will you continue to check out Chelsea, or was one round enough?

Read more:

Emmy Rossum goes all Brian Fellow on ‘Chelsea, Lately’

Chelsea Handler can’t boost ‘Whitney’ ratings

‘Chelsea Lately’ renewed through 2014

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