In the wake of this year’s presidential election, one thing seems clear to women in the Unites States: now, more than ever, men feel threatened to lose their false sense of authority in our society. Some would argue that the world we live in remains very much a man’s world—especially given the election results, but I beg to differ. If there’s anything that 2016 has shown me, it’s that women are making large strides towards equality, from the political and social activism spheres to journalism and the media. One of these women is comedian Chelsea Handler. Handler is no stranger to television, having been on several talk shows throughout the years; her most notable show, Chelsea Lately, ran on E! Network for seven years (2007 through 2014). However, gossip and tabloid talk seems like a thing happily left in the past for Handler, who signed on with Netflix earlier this year as an executive producer of the company’s first talk show, which is simply titled Chelsea.
A disclaimer to readers: Handler’s personality is not for the faint of heart. She is unapologetic and blatantly honest about every aspect of her life, from sex and politics to everything in between. Handler has been extremely vocal about her pro-choice stance on abortion and is not shy about sharing her decision to terminate two pregnancies when she was 16. Now at 41, Handler represents what many love and others hate: a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man—or children—to define her worth. She encourages viewers to remain single, live life to the fullest, speak their minds, see women as more than a uterus and a pair of breasts and to value their own selves above anything else.
Chelsea serves as the perfect platform for the comedian. The 77-episode talk show encompasses a myriad of topics, from politics and Planned Parenthood to cancer awareness and the wage gap. Often, the show focuses on highlighting the lives and actions of powerful and relevant female figures, such as Senator Barbara Boxer, activist Gloria Steinem, author Chelsea Clinton, actress Patricia Arquette, and the iconic Carol Burnett. Her interviews are refreshing and go beyond the outdated Q and A model that so many talk show hosts and TV networks favor. Handler uses her voice to highlight the importance of issues like race relations in the United States, gender inequality, motherhood, body shaming, religion, gun control, HIV, LGBTQ rights, and—you guessed it—the 2016 election cycle. A vocal Clinton supporter, Handler joined forces with Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization focused on registering and encouraging young adults to vote and become involved with the political process.
As a feminist, it seems there are too few outlets for young women in television. Chelsea, along with other programming such as Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, are seeking to burst through the imposed boundaries of a male-dominated space, in which TV personalities and actresses are still being identified with the “F” word—“female.” With her quick wit, colorful language, and no-apologies attitude, Handler is a breath of fresh air from the soft spoken, cookie-cutter model so many women feel obliged to emulate in order to fit into the world of television and the media. Handler, on the other hand, cannot and does not even attempt to fit in. A woman like Chelsea is meant to stand out and give the world the finger, dressed in a t-shirt, pencil skirt and heels.