Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats. Read the whole essay.
On Thursday night, the FX sitcom “Anger Management” returns for its second and, in a sense, final season: After an initial run of 10 episodes, the next 90 (yes, 90) will run more or less uninterrupted over the course of the next two years. (They’ll likely take a week off for the start of the NCAA basketball tournament in March.)
The deal allows FX to purchase a relatively inexpensive property, guarantees production company Debmar-Mercury syndication dollars starting in 2014, and hands star Charlie Sheen some walking-around money. The mercurial actor has a reported approximate 40 percent stake in the show, including the syndication profits.
Chuck Saftler, executive vice-president of FX and the man responsible for greenlighting episodes 11 through 100, was aware that the program — with its laugh track and three-camera setup — has little in common with the network’s edgier fare, like the critically acclaimed “Louie” and “Justified.” “Prior to 10 p.m.,” said Saftler, “we have ‘Two and a Half Men,’ “How I Met Your Mother,’ and the best movie portfolio on the air. When you look at how ‘Anger Management’ plays with ‘Two and a Half Men,’ or movies like ‘Iron man’ or ‘Taken’ or ‘Avatar,’ it’s a very traditional fit.”
“Anger Management” has more in common with “Avatar” than with “Louie” — it’s the only original show on FX, said Saftler, not produced in-house. But since it’s not airing in the network’s signature hour — “when we focus on FX originals which have a distinct tonality to them and an originality to them” — it doesn’t need to be as suffused in sensibility. Saftler indicated that the other option to fill airtime would have been to bid on second-run programming like “Modern Family” or “2 Broke Girls,” a far more expensive proposition. (“Modern Family” sold to USA for approximately $1.5 million an episode, per reports.) “The pricing of the show — in essence, bulk ordering — is significantly lower than any other piece of programming we could buy,” said Saftler.
As for maintaining the audience that made “Anger Management” the No. 2 comedy in cable in the prized 18-49 demographic last year and staving off the attrition it suffered at points during its summer 2012 run: “It’s going to be a really interesting experiment and a learning experience for all of those producers out there that have 10-90 models in their heads.”
And what about Sheen, whose last sitcom experience, on “Two and a Half Men,” was marred by his erratic behavior and denunciations of his showrunner? Saftler said the actor had been consistently on-time and considerate, and noted that “he’s a consummate professional, and one of the best in the world at being a sitcom star.”
Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_More Daniel D'Addario.
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.