TV Series Review
When Charlie Sheen left Two and a Half Men (in 2011) in a cloud of drugs and sex and "warlock blood," some wondered whether CBS' hit comedy would ever be the same. Then came Ashton Kutcher and this commitment from co-star Jon Cryer: "If you found it deeply offensive before, it's still deeply offensive. That's a promise we made to our audience, and we intend to keep it!"
Indeed, for a dozen years, between 2003 and 2015, Two and a Half Men reigned as one of broadcast television's most offensive, most successful shows. Sure, it cycled through its stars like an unstable South American country goes through dictators. But, man, Cryer was right. There's one singular constant that has remained the same: This is a crass show.
The premise was initially hooked to Sheen's colorful, amoral character Charlie Harper, a wealthy, freewheeling jingle writer whose boozing, womanizing Malibu lifestyle got interrupted when his brother Alan and nephew Jake move in with him. Not that it was much of an interruption, mind you. Charlie continued his freewheeling ways—in front of an appreciative kid.
Kutcher's character, billionaire Walden Schmidt, isn't quite the hedonist Charlie was. He's not fond of alcohol. He doesn't manipulate women (quite as much). But that doesn't mean he was averse to bedding two of them at the same time mere minutes after first appearing onscreen.
"I had sex with two girls last night," he chirps to Alan the next morning.
"I masturbated and cried myself to sleep," Alan says.
It's a crude, rude and laughless gag that could've been lifted straight from any of the previous eight seasons. Or the next four. Because while the show may have a couple of grown men as its cornerstones, the humor is strictly juvenile—the sorts of jokes more fitting for a bathroom wall in a grimy truck stop than a primetime program on the one-time Tiffany network.
Shouldn't that bother us? Well, it did bother one of its stars. In a comedy that had already experienced its share of offscreen drama, Angus T. Jones (the titular "half" for a decade) added a little more by recording a repudiation of the entire series—while he was still employed by it.
"If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching Two and a Half Men. I'm on Two and a Half Men and I don't want to be on it," said Jones in a 2012 video posted on YouTube by Forerunner Chronicles. He called the show "filth" and "bad news," and said, "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that."
Jones later said he was sorry for any hurt feelings: "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed."
But apology or no, he was right on with his critique. Two and a Half Men is finally wrapping up its exhausting run. And while it will live on by way of Blu-ray discs and digital streaming services and the hearts and minds of its fans, I'm glad I won't have to review it anymore.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Ashton Kutcher as Walden Schmidt; Jon Cryer as Alan Harper; Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper; Angus T. Jones as Jake Harper; Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper; Conchata Ferrel as Berta; Marin Hinkle as Judith Harper; Courtney Thorne-Smith as Lyndsey Mackelroy; Edan Alexander as Louis; Melanie Lynskey as Rose; Maggie Lawson as Ms. McMartin