TV Series Review
"You can't fire me! I quit!"
"You think you can replace me with some other guy? Go ahead! It won't be the same."
"You may think I'm losing. But I'm not! I'm—well, you get the idea."
So began FX's sitcom Anger Management in 2012 with Charlie Sheen pretending to be anger therapist Charlie Goodson even as he so obviously channels the real Charlie Sheen—and all while pounding on a blow-up punching bag.
Charlie (the fictional dude on the show, not the one-time tiger-blooded tabloid king) is a former pro baseball player who now counsels an assortment of oddball characters on the art of keeping cool. But if keeping cool is an art, Charlie has a little too much Jackson Pollack in him—prone to splatter and splash at the most inopportune moments. That's because his own anger management issues aren't fully under control, so he's seeing his own therapist: his best friend and sometime girlfriend, Dr. Kate Wales.
Much of the first season was predicated on Kate and Charlie's relationship. Then their caustic (and very professionally inappropriate) tryst was terminated in Season Two—apparently to give Charlie the chance to sleep around more, much like his character (yet another Charlie) did on Two and a Half Men.
And Sheen's new show feels, frankly, a lot like his old one. Scores of sexual references—from predilections and gender preferences to the act itself—bounce through the dialogue, along with flurries of crass language. We see characters in bed together and groping each other. Women sometimes wear skimpy getups.
And then, of course, there's the semi-sleazy meta-story behind it all. Writes Time's James Poniewozik:
"When Anger Management tries to have it both ways with its character … it's impossible to ignore how Sheen and FX are also trying to have it both ways here. FX is not just hiring an actor with a history of drug and violence-against-women issues, but using a wink-wink marketing campaign to leverage that history into ratings. Sheen is not just getting paid to rehabilitate his image on TV, he gets to play-act, through his character, at growing, learning and mastering his impulses, whether or not he does anything about them in real life. … Sheen has a right to work and FX has a right to hire him, but that's what this is—business. But if Anger Management scores good ratings, just wait for the 'America to Charlie: All Is Forgiven!' headlines."
Anger Management did indeed divert the attention of anywhere from 3 to 5 million pairs of eyeballs per episode when it launched. And in the flush of that success, FX committed to produce 100 episodes of the salty show. But ratings sank like a concrete warlock in Season Two, so FX latched onto the idea of pushing a few episodes over to its sister channel Fox during summer rerun season—hoping to goose ratings and keep the sitcom from sliding into irrelevance.
But this is a show well suited to the irrelevance woodpile, what with its wooden writing and knotty content issues. Time to get out the ax … and then schedule some anger management therapy sessions for the channel execs responsible.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Charlie Sheen as Charlie Goodson; Selma Blair as Kate Wales; Daniela Bobadilla as Sam; Shawnee Smith as Jennifer Goodson; Noureen DeWulf as Lacey; Michael Arden as Patrick; Barry Corbin as Ed; Derek Richardson as Nolan
Paul Asay Paul Asay