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Half Empty: The Charlie Sheen Roastervention

Instead of watching the Charlie Sheen Roast, I watched the first half of the Two and a Half Men season premiere. If you knew me, this might strike you as odd. First of all, I was an unabashed fan of 2.5 (as no one has ever called it), and resolved not to watch the tiger dung left after it’s star’s absence. Second, I was an unflinching supporter of Charlie’s descent into mania. Not my choice, but wasn’t that the point? Besides, feeding the beast that craves the spotlight with more attention is a classic example of Perry Como Syndrome (ie, if you want to stop monsters, just don’t look). However, if you knew me, you also might think my nonviewing was logical, since I don’t have cable and network TV is crap on Monday night.

At the same time as the 2.5 premiere, Fox was airing the Primetime Emmys. I happened to catch Charlie sheepishly apologize to the cast, crew, and producer of his former show and wish them luck. I knew that soon, Charlie would be dead. Charlie probably knew he was going to die soon. And as the characters lamented the loss of Charlie Harper, to the tune of a train splattering, I knew the hackneyed charm of the jokes wouldn’t survive the death of the lead character.

Part of the allure of a roast is making stars more accessible, down to Earth. There is an exquisite moment in the best roasts when the honoree’s face betrays their shrinking ego: am I really that much of a slut (Pamela Anderson) or a public joke (Donald Trump, Donald Trump’s hair [which deserved its own roast])? But, how low did you want to push Charlie, who had already displayed so much depravity yet claimed such control?

Jeffrey Roast, the roastmaster, declared the roast a success because while at a viewing party, Charlie displayed a moment of clarity. You know unlike any other addict in history, or Charlie himself many times over his career. If Charlie is really clean, then mazel tov to him and good luck to him and his family. He will have to admit that he didn’t do it on his own terms, though, because what happened to Charlie wasn’t a roast; it was an intervention. Being emotionally pummeled from all sides by upstart comedians at the end of a disasterous live tour circuit might have pushed him back on the wagon. But Pam didn’t get a breast reduction, and the Donald announced he was running for president. Clearly, they learned nothing from their roasts.

If Jeff Ross inspired a socially approved turnaround for Charlie Sheen, then kudos to him and his intervention. But if Charlie just goes back to being Charlie, then all he did by roasting him was help glorify the beast. He’s kind of all-in on that turnout, but then again, he’s a comedian, so he’s probably not losing sleep.

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