Online Arts Editor
The season two “Dinner Party” special on Chelsea offers an inside look at America’s education system through a comedic, yet heartfelt lens.
Chelsea Handler’s “Dinner Party” special on her show Chelsea pleases viewers with its lighthearted banter, the inclusion of professional educators, and an ultimately warm message. However, Handler fails to make any attempt at amusing viewers without either being disrespectful or playing dumb.
Chelsea’s “Dinner Party” special features Chelsea Handler, alongside various celebrity guests including Rashida Jones and Jim Parsons, as they discuss their own experiences with and opinions about the modern American education system over dinner at Handler’s mansion.
The special also includes discussions with several educators ranging from the the former United States Secretary of Education John King Jr. to the director of an after-school performing arts program for children in Compton, California.
The most thoroughly entertaining aspect of the “Dinner Party” special was the inside look it gave viewers to the educational experiences and values of Handler’s celebrity guests, particularly those of Rashida Jones. As a Harvard graduate, Jones voices her humble opinions about the importance of secondary education while offering viewers another intriguing side of her.
Another positive aspect of the “Dinner Party” set up was that viewers were able to experience the banter between Handler and her celebrity guests as though they were immersed in a discussion between close friends. The chemistry between the stars on Handler’s special created an intimate and comfortable atmosphere where each guest was willing to uninhibitedly voice their opinions.
In addition to Handler’s discussion with celebrity guests, the inclusion of educators and students gave her an opportunity to show the importance of such educational programs. For example, the up-close look at a Compton-based after-school program and its happy students showed viewers how valuable all forms of education can be to some children, serving as an eye-opening and heartwarming experience for audiences.
Despite these positives, Handler’s comedic style falls short in that it simply relies on lazy, insulting mockery toward certain guests such as John King Jr. While her brashness is appreciated by some, it becomes inappropriate in certain settings, her meeting with King Jr. being one of them.
In addition, Handler exaggerates her ignorance regarding the current state of the United States’ education system, boring viewers with her poor attempt at comedy. She even fails at making mockery of an easy target, current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, by lazily mispronouncing her last name.
Chelsea’s “Dinner Party” special ultimately intrigued viewers with its unique content and dynamic approach to discussing it. Despite its shortcomings, Handler seems to be working her way toward success in a less comedic, yet more internally rewarding fashion.
The “Dinner Party” special from Chelsea is available to stream on Netflix.