Going from sitting behind a table on a sound stage to traveling to various unfamiliar places sounds intimidating, but that was the situation faced by comedian Chelsea Handler when shooting her Netflix documentary series Chelsea Does. The four-episode show, which debuted at Sundance before premiering January 22 on Netflix, follows Handler traveling and tackling serious issues like racism, relationships, and drugs but with a comedic spin. “For me,” Handler told Dominic Patten at Deadline’s The Contenders, “I wanted to do something more serious than what I had been doing. I wanted to get information with a sense of humor. It was a little more narcissistic than a documentary.”
Handler said it was a welcome creative push, however. “I was definitely outside my comfort zone. I wanted to be. Thats where you find new things.” One of the biggest out-of-comfort-zone moments was, she says, having contact her exes, an experience Handler described as “not fun.” “None of them are speaking to me.” She quipped. “I had to go back to the furthest one, from when I was twenty.” In the end, she says the experience “ended up being a beautiful moment in my life and in the documentary.” EP Morgan Neville added “some of the things we shot that were most uncomfortable yielded some of the best material, so in a way that was telling us something.”
Handler went on to describe Netflix as “the best working experience I have ever… It’s a very collaborative environment and the people are smarter than you, which is always a treat to talk to people whose opinion you trust and respect… I’m exactly where I want to be.” To this, EP Eddie Schmidt added “Netflix is a great champion of visions in the sense that the shows don’t have to be so formatted. You can take chances.”
Chelsea Does is streaming now on Netflix. Handler’s upcoming comedy talk show Chelsea will debut on the streaming service May 11.