Charlie Sheen's gone, departing in a cloud of drugs and sex and "warlock blood," Ashton Kutcher took his place. But for those who thought a change in cast might translate into a change of character for CBS' Two and a Half Men, their hopes have been thoroughly dashed. As co-star Jon Cryer told Entertainment Weekly, "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!"
Two and a Half Men has been television's No. 1 comedy for a good chunk of the last decade. Initially, the premise was 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's 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. And that means Cryer's right. The jokes are the same. Only the jokester has changed.
It's pretty dispiriting, really, that Two and a Half Men has for so long simultaneously been one of television's most deplorable and popular sitcoms. 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 has started to bother at least one of the show's stars.
"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," says Angus T. Jones (who plays the comedy's titular "Half") 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, saying, "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 it's worth noting that the apology fell far short of a retraction.
And should Jones retract? Given the decade's worth of data CBS has given us on Two and a Half Men, who could really argue with him?
"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.
"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.
"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.