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The Daily Beast: "Comedy Clash: Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management & Louis C.K.’s Louie"

Tabloid fodder Charlie Sheen returns to TV with FX’s lazy Anger Management, which feels out of place on the cable network, particularly when it sits beside FX’s more experimental and daring fare. I compare Sheen’s new show with Louis C.K.’s Louie, which returns for a third season on Thursday.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Comedy Clash: Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management & Louis C.K.’s Louie," in which I compare and contrast the new Sheen comedy vehicle, Anger Management, with the similarly themed Louie. Both shows revolve around middle-aged men, both air Thursday on FX, and yet that's when the similarities stop altogether...

Charlie Sheen returns to television with FX’s Anger Management, beginning Thursday.

If that statement fills you with dread, we’re simpatico in our TV-comedy leanings. Putting aside the fact that Sheen is a thug with a penchant for substance abuse and violence against women, Anger Management—developed by Bruce Helford (The Drew Carey Show) and based on the 2003 Jack Nicholson film—is toxically mediocre.

Sheen plays a variation on himself: a womanizer named Charlie who derailed his career with a public flameout. (We need not rehash the specifics of his departure from Two and a Half Men and the loopy publicity engine he stoked during his live concert tour and frequent TMZ interviews.) In Anger Management, the fictional Charlie Goodson ended his baseball career by trying to break a bat over his knee. Now he helps people with their own rage problems!

Anger Management, which FX acquired from Debmar-Mercury (the production company that bestowed Tyler Perry's House of Payne upon the world), feels entirely out of place on the network. In general, FX has had a holy mission of developing edgy, provocative, and original fare. On the comedy side, the cable network funneled its offbeat vision into the delightfully oddball It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the raunchy animated comedy Archer, surrealist Wilfred, and Louis C.K.’s exceptional Louie, which returns for its third season on the same night that Anger Management begins its run.

Louie and Anger Management couldn’t be more different from each other, despite the fact that both shows revolve around a middle-aged white guy dealing with middle-aged white-guy problems. (It’s worth noting, however, that Louie C.K.’s paternal grandmother was Mexican, and he lived in Mexico City until he was seven.) While comedy firefly Louie emits a decidedly incandescent indie feel, Anger Management feels like it rolled out of the same factory that continues to mass-produce Two and a Half Men.

The juxtaposition of Louie and Anger Management, airing on the same night on FX, is head-scratching. These two shows cannot compare to one another on any level. For a network that has been so brave and experimental with its comedy development, Anger Management feels like a creative misstep. Below are five examples of the inherent differences between Louie and Anger Management.

SUBJECT

Both shows feature a fictionalized version of their lead actor. While Anger Management stars Sheen as a Sheen-esque blowhard, Louie stars Louie C.K. as a divorced single dad who works as a stand-up comic. Both revolve largely around the familial, romantic, and professional concerns of the two men, but the similarities end there. Anger Management finds Charlie working as a therapist with a specialization in, well, anger management. The show follows him to various group-therapy sessions—one in his home composed entirely of Caucasians and another in a prison that is more ethnically diverse—and as he deals with his materialistic ex-wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith); his sexually adventurous therapist best friend, Kate (Selma Blair); and his daughter, Emma (Daniela Bobadilla).

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

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