Review: Anger Management (FX) 1×1-1×2

Less a train wreck, more a cup of slightly sour Horlicks

Anger Management

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30pm, FX
In the UK: Not yet acquired.

So how do you want to be remembered when you die? Do you want to go out with a bang or do you want to fade away?

Charlie Sheen seemed dead certain to be going for option a. After a catastrophic public meltdown that saw him chucked off Two And A Half Men, one of the US’s top-rated comedy shows, he seemed to be going pellmell towards even further collapse. And then…

…he signed up for Anger Management, an FX sitcom. Well, surely that was going to be like petrol to a forest fire – an even greater disaster in the making.

Except not. Anger Management is a fairly traditional sitcom in which Charlie Sheen plays Charlie, a former baseball player turned anger management therapist who has some – but not much – difficulty dealing with his patients, another therapist (Selma Blair) who is also his best friend with benefits, his ex-wife and his daughter, as well as dating in general.

And while there are a couple of meta-moments about his firing from Two And A Half Men at the beginning of the first episode and while in many ways this is the same womanising Charlie of that sitcom, this is not the Charlie Sheen you might have been expecting. This is a Charlie Sheen who can talk coherently, intelligently, sensitively about issues and resolve them like an intelligent adult.

Boy is it dull, even if FX is trailing it as something of train wreck. It seems Charlie Sheen went with option b.

Award-winning actor Charlie Sheen makes his return to series television in the new sitcom, Anger Management, which premieres June 28th, with back-to-back new episodes at 9 and 9:30PM ET/PT on FX. The series will then move to its regularly schedule timeslot of 9:30PM ET/PT.

In Anger Management, Sheen stars as “Charlie,” a non-traditional therapist specializing in anger management. He has a successful private practice, holding sessions with his group of primary patient regulars each week, as well as performing pro bono counseling for an inmate group at a state prison.

Prior to his career as a therapist, Charlie was a stalled minor league baseball prospect whose road to the majors was sidetracked by his own struggle with anger issues. After a stint in therapy with the team’s female psychologist – who has since become his life-long best friend – he made it to the majors and had one terrific season before his anger issues put him on the shelf for good. In the final game of his career, he tried to snap a bat over his leg, which resulted in a career-ending injury. That injury led him back to school and his current profession.

Charlie thrives on the chaos in his life while still battling his own anger issues. His life is complicated by his relationships with his own therapist/best friend (Selma Blair), an ex-wife (Shawnee Smith) whose positive outlook, but poor choice in men, frustrates Charlie, and their 13-year-old daughter who has OCD (Daniela Bobadilla).

Blair, Smith, Bobadilla, Michael Arden, and Noureen DeWulf all co-star.

Bruce Helford serves as Executive Producer/Showrunner. Joe Roth, Mark Burg, Dave Caplan and Vince Totino are Executive Producers. Anger Management is produced by Lionsgate Television and distributed by Debmar-Mercury.

Is it any good?
Well, it tries really hard to be the next Two And A Half Men, but fundamentally this is one bland, unfunny show.

Episode one is at least a little funnier than the entirely worthless second episode, but the problem, apart from there being roughly two or three original or funny lines per episode, is the set-up for the show is desperately derivative.

Charlie is a watered down version of the previous Charlie, an attempt to show that this is a different show from its predecessor and the Charlie Sheen is now sane, while still trying to capitalise on exactly the same themes: dealing with women, whether they be ex-wives, babes, stalkers or munters, without having to treat them like human beings.

There are several women here, none of whom get much real development. Selma Blair looks bored out of her mind, since she mostly gets told to stand in the corner with her breasts out. Blair actually gets the most to do, since Charlie’s family is dull and conventional, Brett Butler (yes, she from the rather better and more adventurous Grace Under Fire) is only a bartender, and Charlie’s female patient is a Paris Hilton stereotype.

Men who aren’t Charlie don’t fare much better, with a gay stereotype, a nerd stereotype and a macho old guy stereotype being the rest of Charlie’s standard patient roster, with just a few prison racial stereotypes to flesh out his pro bono group.

Possibly the only fun character was Brian Austin Green’s stat-quoting club promoter, who appeared in the first episode just to fool you into thinking the show might be more interesting and intelligent than it actually is.

It’s a shame really, since FX is the home of edginess and Charlie Sheen can be very funny with the right material. Martin Sheen is turning up in episode 10, which would have been something to look forward to.

But this is the kind of show that should be on TV Land, not FX. It certainly dismisses the memory of Two And A Half Men and Sheen’s meltdown pretty quickly – but only in the same, uninspiring way that a mug of Horlicks helps you go to sleep at bedtime.



  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.