The series revolves around Charlie Goodson (Sheen), a one-time minor league baseball player who struggled to take the next step due to recurring anger issues. Thanks to a therapist, Dr. Kate Wales (Selma Blair), Charlie was able to get his issues under control and finally make it to the major leagues. But he had a relapse during a big league game, breaking a bat over his knee in anger and causing a career-ending injury.
The incident inspired Charlie to return to school and become an anger management therapist. Charlie is divorced from his one-time wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith), on whom he cheated multiple times during his baseball-playing days. The two still see a lot of each other, mainly due to having joint custody of their teenage daughter, Sam (Daniela Bobadilla), who has obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Charlie has a complicated relationship with Kate, who is not only his therapist, but also his best friend and a sex-only love interest. He holds regular group sessions in his home for anger management patients, and also does anger therapy at an area prison.Charlie Sheen as Charles "Charlie" Goodson, a former professional baseball player turned anger management therapist.
Selma Blair as Dr. Kate Wales, Charlie's ex–therapist-colleague and friend with benefits.(episodes 1–52, 57 and 63)
Shawnee Smith as Jennifer Goodson, Charlie's ex-wife.
Daniela Bobadilla as Sam Goodson, Charlie and Jennifer's teenage daughter.(episodes 1–52, 54, 57 and 63)
Noureen DeWulf as Lacey Patel, Charlie's spoiled, shallow & destructive anger management patient.
Michael Arden as Patrick, Charlie's homosexual passive-aggressive anger management patient.
Derek Richardson as Nolan Johnson, Charlie's normally unassertive anger management patient.
Barry Corbin as Ed, Charlie's elderly redneck anger management patient.(episodes 3–100; recurring previously)
Brian Austin Green as Sean Healy, Charlie's nemesis who has also dated Jennifer. After Jennifer leaves him over his infidelity, Sean and Charlie become friends and tomcat around together. (episode 45–100; recurring previously)
Laura Bell Bundy as Dr. Jordan Denby, a new psychologist and business partner for Charlie. Often Charlie's comic foil, Jordan links up sexually with Sean Healy. (episode 47–100)
Brett Butler as Brett, the female bartender at a tavern that Charlie frequents.
Michael Boatman as Michael, Charlie's neighbor and friend who is in the real estate business. He is always freeloading off Charlie while listening to him talk about his romantic pursuits. He is especially unlucky at love. (episodes 1–55, guest episode 95)
James Black as Cleo/Derek, a "gay" member of Charlie's prison anger therapy group. In "Charlie's Patient Gets Out of Jail", Cleo is released on parole and reveals to Charlie that his real name is Derek and that he had a wife before going to prison, claiming he's only "prison gay".
Darius McCrary as Donovan, a "prison-gay" member of Charlie's prison anger therapy group and Cleo/Derek's romantic partner. (episodes 1–42)
Stephen Taylor as Wayne, a member of Charlie's prison anger therapy group.
Aldo Gonzalez as Ernesto Sylvia, a member of Charlie's prison anger therapy group.
Martin Sheen as Martin Goodson, Charlie's hyper-critical father. (episodes 10-100)
Steve Valentine as Dr. Moore, a rival psychiatrist whom Charlie considers his arch-enemy.(episodes 13-44)
Anna Hutchison as Sasha, a hooker who is occasionally a real girlfriend for Charlie. She and Charlie are briefly married after a wild night in Las Vegas.(episodes 49-92)
Ajay Mehta as Sanjay Patel, Lacey's father.
Meera Simhan as Mira Patel, Lacey's mother.
Schuyler Helford as Sateen, Lacey's sister who is frequently competing with her.
Michael Gross as Dr. Randy Warren, a "psychic psychologist" whom Charlie exposes as a fraud. He later appears in Charlie's prison therapy group. (episodes 77-80)
Elaine Hendrix as Warden Hartley, the new warden at the prison where Charlie and Jordan work. (episodes 79-83)
On July 18, 2011, it was announced that a show based on the 2003 film of the same name was in development with Charlie Sheen starring in the role originally played by Jack Nicholson from the film. The series was Sheen's first acting role since he was officially fired from the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men.
On October 27, 2011, it was announced that FX had picked up the series with an initial ten episode order which, if successful, FX would then order an additional 90 episodes under a syndication model crafted by Debmar-Mercury. On August 29, 2012 it was announced that the show would be picked up for a further 90 episodes. On January 9, 2013, FX president John Landgraf said that there will essentially be "45 new episodes per year". Landgraf also announced that Martin Sheen, who guest-starred in season one as Charlie's on-screen father, would become a season two regular cast member. While Martin did continue appearing on the show, it was only in selected episodes and he was not promoted to season two regular.
FX paid a $600,000-per-episode license fee for the series. To boost its sagging season two ratings, FX announced that four episodes (two of them first-run) would air on FX's parent network Fox on Monday nights in June, starting June 3, 2013.
Casting announcements began in January 2012, with Shawnee Smith and Selma Blair first cast as the two female leads. Smith was cast as Charlie's ex-wife and Blair was cast as Charlie's therapist and possible love interest.
Several actresses tested for the two female lead roles, including Julie Benz, Jenica Bergere, Elaine Hendrix (who would get a role on the show), Kate Reinders and Nichole Hiltz.
Next to be cast was Noureen DeWulf, in the role of Lacey, a spoiled rich girl who is sentenced to join the therapy group after shooting her boyfriend in the testicles when he cheated on her. Michael Arden and Daniela Bobadilla were cast as, respectively, Patrick (an openly gay member of Charlie's therapy group) and Sam (Charlie's teenage daughter who has obsessive-compulsive disorder). Barry Corbin was cast as Ed, a cranky, bigoted Vietnam veteran and the member of the therapy group who is angry at everyone. Originally billed as a recurring character, the producers decided after just two episodes to make Ed a series regular. Derek Richardson was the last actor cast in the series, in the role of Nolan, a frequently stoned member of the therapy group whose anger issue is that he has no anger.
Brian Austin Green, who initially made a guest appearance, was promoted to a starring role following the dismissal of Selma Blair. Denise Richards, Lindsay Lohan, Cee Lo Green, and Kerri Kenney-Silver made guest appearances. Guitarist Slash made a cameo appearance. Sheen's father, Martin Sheen, who made a guest appearance in season one as Charlie's on-screen father, had an expanded role in the second season. FX president John Landgraf said, "I thought it would be a better series if it was also a multi-generational series".
On June 17, 2013, TMZ reported that Sheen had told producers that he would refuse to work should Blair turn up to work that day as a result of her being the most vocal among the cast and crew regarding complaints about him being a "menace" to work with – specifically questioning his punctuality and work ethic. The following day, TMZ reported that Sheen had told the producers that if they refused to fire Blair, then he would quit. Later that day, Lionsgate issued a statement confirming that Blair would not be returning to the show and that a new female lead role would be created to fill the void.
The new female lead role was described as a "by-the-book psychiatrist" who joins Charlie to co-author the sex study research he and Kate had been working on before she left and moved to India. On August 5, 2013, FX announced that Laura Bell Bundy would be replacing Blair as Charlie's new colleague, Dr. Jordan Denby, with production on the first episode featuring Bundy's character beginning that same day. It was announced that Brian Austin Green would have an expanded role following Blair's firing. Ironically, Blair's character's final line in the series was that Sheen's Charlie Goodson character was "going to be very excited he and I can keep working together".
On September 13, 2013, TMZ reported that Blair was threatening both Sheen and Lionsgate Entertainment for the $1.2 million she would have earned had she not been dismissed from the show, but also noted that both sides were talking and attempting to reach a settlement. It was also reported that a decision had already been made prior to her dismissal to write her off the show as "America didn't want to see Charlie with just one girlfriend" – however the plan was to phase the character out over eight episodes and that once Sheen heard of Blair's comments, "that process was accelerated" and the character abruptly moved to India.
In June 2013, a press release for an episode titled "Charlie and Kate Have Sex for Science" stated that the episode was set to air on June 27, 2013, as the twenty-sixth episode of the season. Following the aftermath of Blair's dismissal, the planned broadcast was canceled and replaced with "Charlie and the Hot Nerd" - the first episode produced without Blair. The status of "Charlie and Kate Have Sex for Science" is unknown as all episodes with production codes up to, and including, 1040 (Blair's final episode) have aired. An episode with a similar title, but with different storylines, named "Charlie Does It For Science" aired on December 5, 2013.
The original broadcast was within the United States of America on the cable channel FX from June 28, 2012 and was later broadcast via free-to-air the Fox network from June 3, 2013. In Canada the series premiered on CTV on August 12, 2012. New episodes later aired on M3. In the United Kingdom/Ireland it premiered on Comedy Central on September 12, 2012. Anger Management began airing in Australia on the Nine Network on August 14, 2012 and on FX, in New Zealand on TVNZ's TV2 from August 15, 2012.
Anger Management received largely negative reviews. Based on 33 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of Anger Management received an average 21% overall "Rotten" approval rating; the website's consensus states, "Anger Management is aggressively so-so, with thin characters and a few groan-worthy gags for every good one."
Metacritic gave the first season of the show a score of 44 out of 100 based on 33 critics' reviews. Linda Stasi of the New York Post called the series "not so bad", adding "Anger Management is pretty conventional up to and including an idiot laugh track—and a character named Charlie—again. But maybe the familiar is what will keep crazy Charlie [Sheen] from killing himself and others in a blind, drunken, psycho haze on set. Or maybe not." The Wall Street Journal's Nancy DeWolf Smith thought the series was "usually funny, often clever" and added "The accomplishment here is that tight writing and editing, a solid cast with good timing and Mr. Sheen's chops as the ne plus ultra of sitcom performers, make the whole thing feel, if not entirely fresh—then crisp."
Alan Sepinwall of HitFix stated: "Anger Management is Charlie Sheen doing what Charlie Sheen does—on-screen. It's not artful, it's not elegant ... It will likely give his fans what they want. And if there are enough of them to trigger the order for the extra 90 episodes, then FX, Helford and everyone else will feel justified in taking another chance on the guy, despite what happened in the past."
The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan stated: "despite the careful attention to image enhancement possibilities, the core ugliness and toxic narcissism of 'Anger Management' are impossible to ignore. ... Whoever 'Anger Management' benefits – and it certainly won't be viewers used to FX's usual scripted fare – whole enterprise is really just image management. Nice work if you can get it." Anger Management was renewed for 90 more episodes, and production started on September 24, 2012.