Two and a Half Men!
A couple of months back, you’ll remember that Charlie Sheen was, oh, in the news quite a bit. I was assigned a little piece on that whole ongoing train wreck.
Much like you, I’d never seen “Two and a Half Men,” so I had to start watching it, and fast. Fortunately, all the local stations in Los Angeles play nothing but episodes of the show twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I needed only to set the DVR, and wait patiently for a few hours before I had caught the legal limit.
So I sat down and began watching the show. The verdict (and I know you’re dying to know, never having seen the show yourself): Viewers watching “Two and a Half Men” are bombarded with the television equivalent of that which caged monkeys are known to throw at those who watch them. (The difference being, of course, most people at the zoo try to avoid getting hit.)
Look, I gave it a chance. I sat through nearly three dozen episodes from half a dozen different points in the show’s run. I’m pretty sure I got a good cross-section of what the program is about.
I don’t think I’m a hypocrite to say I liked “Married…with Children” which is the closest thing I can think of to compare it to. Both are sitcoms built largely on crass one-liners focusing almost exclusively on obnoxious insults and sex with a laugh track cranked up way too high.
But somehow “Married…with Children” had – now don’t laugh! – heart. For all their bickering and put-downs, the Bundys stuck together and ultimately supported each other – sure, it usually took a common adversary to get them there, but then it was “Whoooa Bundy!” and look out. Then someone else was on the receiving end of all those one-liners. Uh-oh!
…And there’s “Two and a Half Men” – the sitcom where everyone simply hates each other. Charlie hates Alan. Jake hates his father. Alan’s ex-wife hates him. The harpy mother hates her two sons. The housekeeper hates them all. These are characters who loathe one another. Everyone has unbridled contempt for everyone else, including Charlie for all the women he bangs.
The comedy on “Two and a Half Men” is juvenile, but I can’t fault the show too much for that especially given the fact that “Married…with Children” wasn’t exactly known for its subtlety or sophistication either. But “Men’s” punchlines are much raunchier and almost all have to do specifically with Charlie Harper’s penis, testicles, or, most often, the semen they produce. Think I’m being over the top? From Season 5, Episode 4:
Charlie: We’re going slow.
Charlie: Yes, we’re getting to know each other as people before we jump into bed and get to know each other as, you know, animals.
Berta: Just do me a favor and make the first time at her place cause you’re gonna spring forth like a water-wiggle.
That’s a little out of context, so let me explain the joke to you: If Charlie has intercourse with the woman they’re referring to there at his house after the dry spell he’s going through, it’s going to be up to the housekeeper to mop up all of his copious ejaculate the next morning. Someone give this cornerstone of the Tiffany Network’s Monday night lineup another round of Emmys!
And yet, “Two and a Half Men’s” worst offense? Not Chuck Lorre’s aptly named vanity cards, surprisingly. No, the most offensive aspect of the show was the idea to accompany every last goddamn scene change with the single sung word “…Men!” I can’t help but think that this was a decision that everyone from Les Moonves down to the guy who arranges the Snickers bars on the craft service table regretted halfway through the pilot episode and for some reason known only to them, they just felt it was too late to change it.
Anyway, the biggest laugh I’ve gotten from this show came today, when I read this online:
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler…said “Men” will remain “smart, irreverent and risque.”
Oh, sure, if one word comes to mind when mentioning “Two and a Half Men” it’s “smart.”
There’s a scene in the Mike Judge film “Idiocracy” where 26th century moron Frito Pendejo (Dax Shepard) is laughing at a TV show titled “Ow! My Balls!”
Judge could have instead used clips from TV’s current number one sitcom and made just as strong a point.