Jennifer (Shawnee Smith), Charlie's ex-wife, reacts with great amiability to the news that he cheated on her in a prior life, and to the parade of unstable women he marches through their anxious daughter Sam's (Daniela Bobadilla) life. Kate (Selma Blair), is Charlie's fuck buddy, best friend, and therapist, the kind of woman who apparently loves to be told, "You're the best kind of friend, you know. No attachments whatsoever," and "If you're just going to stand there and drink beer and criticize me, you could at least take off your top." And the second episode of Anger Management is one of the ugliest things I've ever seen on television, an entire half-hour dedicated to mocking an unattractive woman for having the temerity to think that Charlie would be attracted to her.
Far from forcing him to reevaluate his relationships with them, the women in Anger Management are around to fulfill Charlie's needs, from sex to child care, perfectly. In the world of the show, Charlie's anger did damage only to himself, when he busted his own knee trying to break a bat after being heckled by fans at a game. If Anger Management was meant to be an artistic engagement with Sheen's own past, it would have to actually address his responsibility for the ways he's hurt other people, and to confront the fact that women exist for some reason other than to cater to his whims.
The treatment of actresses like Blair is a perfect point of contrast between Anger Management and Louie, a show that continues to grow and evolve in exciting new directions. Where Anger Management uses Blair to satisfy Charlie's needs, Louie casts Melissa Leo and Parker Posey, among other actresses, as grown women whose identities present serious challenges to Louie's sense of the world and of himself. Leo's character directly questions, in a funny and obscene sequence, Louie's willingness to accept a blowjob, but his total lack of desire to reciprocate. Posey's character drags him on an adventurous night around New York City that tests his desire for ease rather than connection.
In previous seasons of the show, Louie had a schtick where Louie interacts with younger, very attractive women with different worldviews than his own and tries to relate to them, as when he spent an evening with an abstinence advocate or charmed a professional cheerleader on a USO tour in Afghanistan. It was a device that let him communicate his openness to the world, but that also fell into a familiar trap of pairing middle-aged Louie with much more attractive, younger sparring (if not sexual) partners. This year, C.K. is paired up with equals, including a gay man who gives him a tour of Miami and challenges Louie's sexual comfort in ways the show has explored only fleetingly in previous episodes, and the show is richer, and weirder for it.