Two and a Half Men has never been a good show. Somehow, with its casual misogyny and lack of overall narrative structure, it has managed to average around 14 million viewers per episode, making it the most watched sitcom on television.
This past March, Charlie Sheen, who played the eponymous playboy Charlie Harper, was fired from the show after making derogatory comments about its creator, Chuck Lorre, along with reports of cocaine use and $7,000 worth of damage at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
CBS chose to renew Two and a Half Men for a ninth season, and on May 13, it was announced Sheen would be replaced with Ashton Kutcher.
Monday’s premiere featured Sheen’s character’s funeral, killed offscreen after being hit by a train. But beyond the loss of Sheen, not much has changed for the sitcom. Now lacking its leading man’s tiger blood and Adonis DNA, the series introduced Walden Schmidt, a suicidal billionaire portrayed by Kutcher, who looks like he recently walked off a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Beyond the new guy, however, it’s same old, same old.
Within the first five minutes we’re given multiple STD jokes, followed by two fart jokes. When Walden and Alan Harper (Jon Cryer) go to a bar, they pick up two attractive women, who (of course) turn out to be dumb as bricks. Just like when Charlie Sheen was on.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the Dharma and Greg reunion that occurred when Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson brought back their characters from the Lorre-created series, which aired from 1997 to 2002. It’s good to see the writers staying current for their show.
Ultimately, nothing has changed for Two and a Half Men. If it wants to sustain its popularity, it can’t get away from its norm too much.
The show became a hit due to its crudeness and the fairly funny situations Charlie and Alan got themselves into. If anything, Kutcher’s character will likely be a continuation of Charlie Harper: a good-looking, confident idiot who can have any woman he wants, even if he demeans them throughout the whole thing. Jon Cryer, the show’s single bright spot, will be stuck as dorky, nervous Alan for the rest of the show.
Replacing Sheen seems to show a lack of confidence in Cryer to lead the series, even though he’s miles
ahead of Kutcher as an actor, especially in the season premiere. But Sheen’s departure and the introduction of Kutcher may have been the best thing for the show. Twenty-eight million people watched Monday night’s premiere, making it the most watched episode of a scripted series since 2005.
Besides CBS, no one gains from the addition of Kutcher. He adds nothing to a dull, crude and stupid show that doesn’t want to change. Those high viewership numbers will probably not last, and there’s only so long you can make the same jokes over and over again. If we’re lucky, Two and a Half Men will no longer be winning by the end of this year.