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Chelsea Does is a completely standout escape from what she is known to do. When compared to Uganda Be Kidding Me (2014), also produced by Netflix, Chelsea Does is a major breakthrough in a career of someone who now states to be more mature and aware of her position in the world than before, someone who is now "thinking globally and acting globally".
She takes some issues to discuss them using informality and also self analysis with a great "in between" development. That's why every episode begins in a dinner table with friends and goes thru a more introspective feeling with her personal therapist.
In fact, Chelsea herself does not have much to say. She takes those issues for self-knowledge also clarifying the audience about them by different point of views. Who actually have things to say are the people she invites to debate those themes using the democratic principle, which is: they are free to promote their own ideas or counteract her openly. That principle avoids her from personal judgments most of the times, giving people opportunity to state their opinions the same way she is able to do, confronting them healthily and respectfully even when sometimes seems impossible.
When developing the marriage theme - the first episode - she makes clear to have never cared for it and find difficulty understanding why is it so important in our modern society. At the same time she cannot hide her frustration to be single at her 40's because we have this strong cultural pressure around making us conditioned to accept marriage and fidelity as a goal and a true commitment even when sometimes it's not. It doesn't mean that every marriage is faded to fail and she does not analyze it that way. She knows that there are difficulties in the process and that they can do work, as it did with her parents. What she wants to know is why people are so obsessed by it.
The same tone is approached about technology, wondering all the time how is the relationship between a generation born with few resources and those ones who are born within electronic gadgets.
But undoubtedly the highlights are the last two episodes, which manages the difficult task of balancing both themes between seriousness and humor without turning them into tools for clichéd jokes, as it usually happens.
Chelsea confronts some disgusting individuals about racist matters respectfully. What she does do with those people is let them state their thoughts because their position neglecting any human rights existence becomes a huge rope around their own necks.
She realizes that the more they say the worse it gets and more embarrassing is for no one but themselves. The man who supports the barrier between United States and Mexico, comparing Mexicans to burglars and thieves (especially after claiming to have Mexican people in his family), or listening another one comparing black people to tractors, or a woman stating that there were good consequences with slavery, it's atrocious. At these moments Chelsea uses her sarcasm like knives cutting their throats and they don't even notice that. That's subtle, and that's what she does best.
When talking about drugs, that may sound apologetic, but on the contrary, she proves to be a person who is fully aware of what they are and how her body reacts to them. Her intention is to enlighten its use in the matter of recreational or experimental purposes. That's what she does when undergoing a spiritual session with ayahuaska, or when mixing some other drugs under professional supervision. She wants her reactions to be recorded so we can witness that the indiscriminate and uninformed use of drugs is extremely dangerous.
The episodes have an interesting progression. At first seems that she is just a self centered celebrity who likes to talk about her achievements to preserve the identity of a wealthy influential successful woman who suddenly decided to take herself seriously.
The series starts with themes that seems unimportant but suddenly it proves to be completely the opposite when socio-cultural complexities comes to surface. It becomes obvious how her consciousness about things and herself also changes and improves during the process, like when she is with a group of social representatives in the third episode, and one states that her jokes can be racist even when she believes it's not. Their point makes her finally understand how unaware she was about it and that those jokes actually can still hurt people, races and cultures when analyzed through a wider scope. That is truly the turning point of the series, because from that on Chelsea goes away from her celebrity persona and approaches herself closer to an ordinary human being that lives in a culture so absorbed by racism and prejudice that cannot even notice when it happens. And that's when her perception about things change. That's when our first impression of the show becomes an incredible part of her whole maturity process.
And with the last episode she ends this important modifying path with perfection, finally expressing her fragility, undressing herself emotionally in a way she has never done before and never allowed herself to. For several moments we laugh a lot, but we also feel extremely moved. Chelsea knew how to choose the right people to talk about important issues by the easiest and most affordable way as possible. Either with humor or without it, above all with balance and focus.
It's not a documentary per excellence because it's clear that it is divided between situations created to help an entertainment development at the same it uses real situations to clearly justify the proposed themes. Regardless, it's an important show, especially in a time when instead of moving forward, we are going backwards on ideas and collective thoughts. Chelsea actually becomes a projection of ourselves, of those ones who need to analyze their relationship with the world.
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