The Particular Patheticness Of FX’s Deal With Charlie Sheen

I think Maureen Ryan is exactly right on why it’s so disappointing that FX has decided to pick up Charlie Sheen’s new show, an adaptation of the movie franchise Anger Management, even in a world where we expect Hollywood to be ruthlessly pragmatic:

Let me be clear: I agree with critic James Poniewozik, who wrote that it’s not necessarily Hollywood’s job to punish Charlie Sheen for his actions and his past. But I do find it disheartening to be reminded of the double standard that still exists when it comes to rule-breaking public figures who get in trouble with the law: If they’re men, they’re usually seen as dangerous, edgy bad boys; if they’re women, they’re usually derided as awful human beings who deserve all the calumny thrown at them.

Charlie Sheen’s history of violence against women has been consistently ignored or waved away like it’s no big deal, and he has been continually rewarded for attitudes and actions that depress the hell out of many people out here in the real world. A significant percentage of the public does not find his actions humorous but loathsome and creepy.

I’d add that part of what makes this worse is the show itself, a hackneyed premise that will find a way to turn Sheen’s monstrous, and endemic, behavior into part of the joke. FX has been particularly good at fielding tough, lacerating shows about masculinity, from Louie‘s examinations of Louis C.K.’s own patheticness and vulnerabilities; to Tommy Gavin’s alcoholism, post-traumatic stress, and difficult relationships with women on Rescue Me; Raylan Givens’ time-lapsed cowboy act in Justified; Vic Mackey’s brutality in The Shield; the nutty sports fans of The League who use fantasy football to work out their unresolved issues; and the bar gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia who are nothing but unresolved issues. In this context, salivating after Sheen seems particularly hackish, pathetic, middle-brow. FX may revel in male dysfunction, but it recognizes it for what it is.