Comedy Central’s roast of Charlie Sheen airs tonight (at 10 p.m., ironically just one hour after Ashton Kutcher makes his debut in Sheen’s old spot on “Two and a Half Men”), and while I’m sure the show will bring in decent enough ratings, I have to wonder who’s going to be watching. It’s not a question of whether or not anyone finds the roasts funny (plenty of people do). It’s a question of whether we can stand any more of Charlie Sheen’s latest semi-sort of-not really apologist tour.
Granted, we’ve gotten a whole lotta Sheen in the last year. First there was the meltdown, then there was the ignominious exit from “Two and a Half Men,” followed by tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA and goddesses, oh my. For a while, he was the car accident we couldn’t look away from. It was even possible to appreciate Sheen’s willingness to bite the hand that fed him, a move both ballsy and insanely self-destructive in equal parts.
But the thing about car accidents is they’re usually over quickly. Sheen Tweeted, he went on tour, he did interview after interview. After a while, everyone got tired of the warlock (or became uncomfortable with behavior that increasingly seemed to reflect not just drug or alcohol use but mental illness) — unfortunately, it took Sheen a while to figure it out. And now, after a (very brief) break, he’s back.
In theory, this should be his mea culpa moment — humbled by his lack of income and the disdain of the public, he’s supposed to stumble back into the public eye, his tail between his legs, reassuring us he’s not crazy, he feels awful for calling Chuck Lorre a troll and he was drinking/off his meds/ drunk on attention/doing crack with hooker and thus not himself, etc. Of course, any excuse would be met with skepticism, but this is the dance we’re used to. Big star screws up, big star realizes work has disappeared, big star does whatever necessary to win back the hearts and minds of fans and Hollywood — which is usually a testament to their acting skills more than anything else. God knows Sheen has done it many, many times before.
But this time around, even though Sheen clearly understands the need to do this Hollywood shuffle, his heart clearly isn’t in it. In his recent interview with Matt Lauer, he danced around tough questions (though he did finally admit he “would have fired his a–, too”) and offered goofily saccharine testaments to his renewed love of family (referencing a “lonesome tear” running down his cheek and living life in “the moments inside the moments”). During the Emmy Awards, he took the stage as a presenter and wished those associated with “Two and a Half Men” well, but in such a tone that it was hard to think he meant one word of it. All he needed to do was wink and roll his eyes to let us know that, well, duh, he’s still winning.