Summer 2012 Review: Anger Management

4 Jul

Sometimes the question is why, and then sometimes after thinking for a moment, the real question turned out to be why not.

With Work It, the question really was why – it was so obviously a bad idea, that it was amazing that the show made it through all the barriers to actually area.

With Anger Management, the question really was why not – it was simply so obvious.

Charlie Sheen-mania has faded quite a bit since Winning and Tiger Blood were guaranteed daily punch lines on late night television, but he’s still a controversial and yet well-liked by many actor who was fired after he headlined one of the most popular comedies of the last decade. In the position he’s in, with limited opportunities, he’s available for a relatively cheap cable sitcom, guaranteed to draw the amount of eyeballs it needs to be a success, which are much lower than the amount that would be needed for a network, merely out of people being curious enough to watch.  And if it fails, well, it wasn’t all that expensive of a gamble.

For all this programming logic, it’s, also unsurprisingly, a terrible program which really couldn’t be less interesting or edgy.  For all the brouhaha of Charlie and his women and his coke and his vague anti-semitism, there isn’t anything remotely edgy or controversial about his work, which couldn’t be more conventional down to the multiple camera set up and the laugh track.  Even the bad commercials for the show, which show Sheen doing crazy things, getting in the way of trains and the like, are 20 times more edgy than the actually show which is about as damn run of the mill a generic sitcom as one could put together.  Charlie Sheen plays an anger management therapist who himself as a dormant anger management problem, which seems to be rearing its ugly head again, requiring counseling (and may have been a former baseball player of some sort, though I was kind of iffy on that part).

What’s even worse, or at least stranger, is that the show seems to have no focus and wants to be five sitcoms at once.  Most simple sitcoms have a couple of dynamics, and core cast groups – friends and co-workers, or family and friends, but Anger Management doesn’t seem to know who the show is about.  We’ve got Charlie’s ex-wife and his daughter as one group.  We’ve got his current best friend, lover, and therapist Kate.  We’ve got his next door neighbor and friend.  We’ve got a random bartender played by Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire) who gives advice to Charlie…I don’t even remember what his name was in the show (can I assume it’s Charlie?  Probably).  We’ve got his therapy group consisting of an old anti-gay veteran, a gay dude, a creepy post-teen and an attractive young woman who just joins the group.  Rather than have any semblance of structure, the show bounces around to all of these groups without having any coherent plot other than Sheen realizing he needs to get therapy again.  That’s already more plot than solid jokes though.  My dad, who has a more retrograde sense of humor than myself, laughed maybe twice, so you can count that as something.

It’s not as flat out irritating as Whitney or 2 Broke Girls, but it’s not far removed.  It’s generally insulting to the viewer, but a slight step up than innaity of those shows, possibly because I expect more from shows that try for a younger audience, where this doesn’t even really try.

It’s hard going into a show knowing it’s going to be terrible, because it’s hard to unfairly bias yourself it against it.  It’s just unfortunate when it keeps being true and it just builds to your bias for future shows.

It’s sad that FX, which has generally made edgy, forward thinking comedy, and even its misses have at least had a shot, is jumping onto something that couldn’t be farther away from every other FX comedy.  Of course, if them putting on this comedy helps them spend money and grow other better comedies with the profit, then I’ll bow to their wisdom, but it’s just as sad that this is what people are more interested in watching.

Will I watch it again?  No, it felt like the show was 40 minutes when it was only 21.  Maybe I’ll catch the last 30 seconds before a future Wilfred or Louie.

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