McAvoy: With 'Anger Management,' Charlie Sheen Is Back On Top To Stay
You will probably remember a time, last year, when the actor Charlie Sheen was going through some hard times. Like many of us have done at various moments in our lives, he was in a protracted disagreement with his boss -- in this case, the creator of the sitcom, Two And A Half Men, that Sheen was starring in then. None of us should have been particularly shocked that things came to a head, as it were, between Sheen and his showrunner, Chuck Lorre: we're talking about two very powerful men, titans of media, who are both used to getting their own way, so when they clashed, the resultant set-to reminded those of us old enough to have taken Physics in school (I think it's been replaced with "Gender Studies" now) of when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. Neither of these two alpha males was going to back down -- and, really, would we have wanted them to? After all, we have certain ideas about how men like this should act; "relenting" isn't a move we want to believe is in their repertoires.
Here's what Charlie Sheen did to get an advantage over Lorre: he took to the internet. He started a Twitter account, and immediately became a sensation. Is it what your humble correspondent would have done? No. Twitter is, quite obviously, beneath me. But I can't argue with results: Sheen became pretty much the biggest thing the microblogging service had ever heard of, gained a whole new world of fans, coined his own catchphrases, and parlayed his new notoriety into a live stage tour. Did he have to lose the stable, highly-paid job he'd been doing for nigh onto a decade? Sure. But he's landed somewhere so much more exciting: a new series called Anger Management.
We know all about Sheen, you see. And Sheen knows we know. And now we know Sheen knows we know because Anger Management deftly plays off his public image: the irony that someone as flamboyant and public with his emotions would ever be capable of shutting them off to be a therapist! It's a brilliant twist. The show also allows Sheen to remind the public that he is above all a loving father -- in the show, to a teenaged girl (Daniela Bobadilla) with whose mother (Shawnee Smith), his ex-wife, he is still on friendly terms. But his respect for the women in his life doesn't mean he isn't still a man, with a man's needs, and to meet those he turns to the beautiful Kate (Selma Blair). You have to see the chemistry these two have: it is astonishing. It's clear that the two are great sparring partners onscreen and off and that Sheen has finally found a female foil who can meet him at his level and really play. I'm thrilled that they've had the good fortune to find each other on this show, and though it's early days yet, I know they'll be working together for years to come.
I know some of you will have read this far and been utterly gobsmacked at the pro-Sheen position I've taken. Reader: I understand! During his dark time, Sheen did a number of things that I normally oppose: he used Twitter; he called attention to his "partying"; he displayed ungallant behavior by openly dating two women at once. He was brash and crude and certainly not in a fashion that met the high standard set by his father Martin. All of this is true.
Furthermore, I know some of you must have kept up on Sheen's Twitter exploits for the purpose of making fun of and/or feeling superior to him -- "hate-followed" him, I'm told it's called (and good Lord, the idea that such a base pursuit has a name). And to you I say: I hope you enjoyed yourselves. I hope you found it diverting to type your little tomatoes at or about Charlie Sheen, an award-winning actor who makes more money in a year than you will in a lifetime; the star of deathless films like Wall Street and Platoon; a man who was pushed to his limits and did the only thing he could: he pushed back.
To you, I would say that I hope you never know what it's like to be a successful man at the top of your field, find yourself surrounded by people who don't appreciate the asset you are and who get to make decisions about your fate anyway, and get your own back by whatever means necessary, even if that has to be in public, even if some people think you're spectacularly embarrassing yourself.
But I don't have to say that, because I know you never will be. You'll be on Twitter, making your little jokes.
Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen is back on TV in Anger Management. Winning.