The Kindest Cut: Natalie Morales is Out of the Chelsea Handler Show

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Under the cover of a weekend famous for blowing stuff up, NBC did exactly that with one of its least-promising new sitcoms: Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, the TV adaptation of Chelsea Handler’s mystifyingly popular book in which the comedienne reveals her boyfriend once got a blowjob from a dog. Once scheduled for midseason, the show now appears as shaky as Handler on Rick Ross’s go-cart. The reason? The holiday axing of three core cast members: jerky comedian Jo Koy, former ER nurse Angel Laketa Moore, and — gasp! — the wonderful Natalie Morales. (Series star Laura Prepon remains.)

Now, losing a job is never a good thing — particularly in Hollywood, where steady employment is as rare and precious as logic in a Michael Bay movie. But we think we speak for Natalie Morales fans everywhere when we say: Thank god. Morales, you see, is delightful: She made a spunky and memorable debut on the gone-too-soon ABC Family superhero spoof The Middleman, classed up White Collar for a season and then charmed on Parks and Recreation in the demanding role of Lucy, the only living girl in Pawnee able to stomach the arrogance (and aroma) of Tom Haverford. In real life — or at least what passes for it on the Internet — Morales is no less bewitching, whether she’s nerding-out for a guest spot on Doctor Who or rebuffing a legion of angry, confused Today show fans.

And so we say: Run, Natalie! Run as far away from Chelsea Handler as possible! The 26-year-old Morales — who, we must stress, currently has a picture of Reginald VelJohnson playing air-bass as her background image on Twitter — would have been wasted in the no-doubt thankless role of “Ivory,” one of Handler’s mildly ethnic, annoyingly enabling girlfriends. You see, Morales, in baseball parlance, is “toolsy:” She’s smart, funny, and a knockout. She’s deserving of parts a thousand times more interesting than “sassy friend.” (Or, oh god, “Kia” — no doubt a sassy hatchback — on recent disasterpiece The Cape.) And so while her bank account may take a short-term hit, we can’t help but think Morales dodged a midget-fetishizing bullet here. Better opportunities will come. After all, the very talented Lisa Kudrow was also an eleventh hour cut from an NBC sitcom, only to rebound a year later with Friends.

Of course, that sitcom was Frasier. But we’re fairly certain our point remains.

Filed Under: ABC, Parks and Recreation, Sitcoms, TV

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Andy Greenwald is a staff writer for Grantland.

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