Saturday, February 21, 2015

Two And A Half Men (2003 - 2015) Review

Going through Two And A Half Men really is like going through the life of protagonist Alan Harper(Jon Cryer). The first few years/seasons are pretty great, with lots of brilliant comic moments(my favourite episode of the series was "Hi, Mr. Horned One" - it was one of the few laugh out loud ones). Then it started to feel like the characters were going through a subtle mid-life crisis.
Charlie Harper(Charlie Sheen) was left without a girlfriend after trying to fix himself for a whole season and went back to the bachelor behavior of the early years, but now with a deprecating tinge.
Alan Harper was still living in his brother's house and became increasingly unhinged.
And Jake Harper(Angus T. Jones) lost any semblance of intelligence.

It's true that when Charlie's character was killed off between seasons 8 and 9, the show changed dramatically. The "Sheen family" was pretty much broken up, only to return for guest appereances later on.

By the time of season 12, it felt like I as a viewer kept watching for the same reason Alan was still there - because that darned Malibu beach house was impossible to give up, no matter how bad things get.

Two And A Half Men centers on rich songwriter Charlie Harper, who lives in a beach house, sleeps with beautiful women(sleep being an euphemism) and generally does whatever he wants until his uptight, moralizing and slightly creepy brother Alan is kicked out by his wife and is forced to "temporarily" stay with his brother, with his 10-year old son Jake tagging along.

For the first 8 seasons, we watch them evolve into caricatures as they survive girlfriends and personal agendas. The lesson being that everyone inevitably becomes a jerk or an idiot.
After the "death" of Charlie Harper, the show reinvented itself with the introduction of net billionaire Walden Schmidt, who buys the house and ends up letting Alan and Jake stay there.
For seasons 9 and 10, we watch him evolve into a caricature who can't decide on just what personality he's going to wear this week.
After Jake heads off to Japan to join the army, Jenny Harper, the lesbian daughter of the late Charlie shows up, looking for her dad and Walden ends up making room for her in the house.
For season 11, we see her doing what her father did - make out with chicks.
Then, Walden decides to adopt a child to fill a void in his heart, but is forced to temporarily marry with Alan, since he can't adopt the child on his own. Oh yeah, Alan still lives in the beach house and doesn't even have a job anymore because quite frankly, he doesn't give a damn. He's got a thing going, geddit?
In season 12, we see them(minus Jenny, who is basically kicked out) fiddling their thumbs until the finale comes along to reveal that Charlie actually survives! And he's a crazy psycho now!! And it was actually a TV show all this time!!!

Right, I hope you got that.

There's no denying that the premise of the show has only gotten weirder and weirder, but unlike so many of my co-viewers, I've stayed hooked to the end.

Looking back on it, I think most of the audience were right to ditch it because the show really had its golden years in the first half(seasons 1-6). It seemed to me that as time went on, Two And A Half Men had a bad tendency to turn its characters into caricatures. Charlie became a sex-hungry idiot, Alan became a creep AND a sex-hungry idiot, Walden became goofy, Jake became an idiot, Barry became an idiot, Larry became... an idiot.
Yeah, the characters really do have a tendency to deteriorate on this show.

Is it really a surprise that the finale was basically about how ridiculously idiotic the show is rather than anything that actually concerned the show itself?

The main things that actually bugged me about the show were things like pot jokes(drugs ain't funny), the idiot characters(constantly saying stupid things gets old fast) and the potty humor(if they didn't need it in the early seasons, why do they need it now?)

I guess I liked it better during the early Sheen years, because it actually felt plausible back then. There were actual characters and good humor instead of the bizarre meta humor of the Kutcher years.

And I'm not saying the Kutcher years were all that bad(shining highlights include Alan's Gollum moments and the Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo in the finale), but it was certainly more surreal.

Overall, Two And A Half Men is a strange beast. Brave heart, those who dare to go through the whole thing.

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