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
"Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt (Part 1)"
Charlie Harper's dead—killed after "slipping" into the path of an oncoming train, wink, wink. The day before, a girl who had foolishly agreed to marry him found him taking a shower with another woman. You do the math, she dares us.
After the funeral, Alan spills Charlie's ashes all over the living room when he's startled by suicidal billionaire Walden Schmidt who, by night's end, has agreed to buy the bachelor pad—and has a threesome upstairs. (We hear his exclamations.) Twice he walks around the house naked in front of folks, and several observers comment on his anatomical size. (His midsection is pixelated but not otherwise obscured.)
We hear Charlie's former lovers discuss his sexual proclivities, perversions and diseases. They're mad that they can't spit on his corpse. There's a reference to Charlie's illegal drug "bill." Jokes flirt with prostitution, homosexuality, testicles, drunkenness and suicide. Characters say "b‑‑ch," "a‑‑," "freakin'" and misuse God's name.
"Don't Give a Monkey a Gun"
Alan and Walden get divorced (after marrying in a previous episode so Walden could adopt Louis, who is the new "half"), and Alan decides to pop the question to his longtime/live-in girlfriend. Meanwhile, Walden continues his ribald relationship with Ms. McMartin—Louis' social worker and Alan's ex-girlfriend.
Several jokes are made regarding Alan and Walden's marital status, with Alan getting upset about the "split." He cheers up when Walden offers to buy him a present—and considers getting a penis enlargement. He sends pictures of said sexual body part to Lyndsey with a frowny face drawn on it. And it comes out that he also sent similar pictures to Ms. McMartin and Walden. Someone discusses drawing a face on a vagina as well. We hear about masturbation and oral sex, along with asides involving necrophilia, breast augmentation and anniversary dinners at Hooters. Also defecation and flatulence. Lyndsey wears a nightgown that exposes cleavage.
Alan and Walden sip beer. Foul language includes "d--n," "h---" and "b--tard" (once or twice each). God's name is misused three or four times. When Alan buys a Ferrari, he says he was flipped off five times on the way home. "It was great!" he says.
"Tinkle Like a Princess"
In a storyline that's not really unique to this particular episode, Charlie drinks for two days then goes to a strip club. He ends up in a church instead, where he admits to God that he prays only when his "a‑‑ is on fire." His prayer apparently nets him a stripper named Betsy, whom he takes as a heavenly sign, rushing her off to Vegas to marry. Turns out, Betsy's a train wreck—even by Charlie's ridiculously low standards—but the relationship only truly comes to an end when Betsy's real husband shows up, telling Charlie before he swoops her away that she's fond of going on sexual "adventures." Charlie's not upset by this, by the way. He's ecstatic he got three days of commitment-free sex.
Before she leaves, Jake invites Betsy to go topless sunbathing. He tells his father that to snag a stripper for themselves they need to get their "a‑‑es to church."
Mixed in are crass references to menstruation and female body parts, oral sex, porn, drunkenness, urinating into houseplants, sexually transmitted infections, pole dancing, and straight and homosexual sex. Language includes "h‑‑‑" and "d‑‑n." "Frickin'" stands in for the f-word.
"Something My Gynecologist Said"
After oral sex with girlfriend Lyndsey, Alan learns that her gynecologist asked her out. And now Lyndsey's asking for some assurance that her relationship with Alan has a future. (The pressure!) Meanwhile, Walden decides to keep pulling the wool over the eyes of a wealthy woman who thinks he's a poor, struggling writer. Why? So he can have sex with her and get more gifts.
Alan makes graphic allusions to oral sex and tells Lyndsey that he spends time giving it to her "for the love of the game," not because he's getting paid. (Unlike the gynecologist, he insinuates.) We hear other, multiple, graphic references to intercourse and critical sexual body parts. Also passing gas and the effects of old age. An elderly man asks for permission to seduce Alan and Walden's housekeeper. We see couples in bed together, some apparently naked, post-coital. We see Walden and Alan shirtless. Characters lie. They drink.
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