I Speak TV: ’2 and a Half Men’ Absolutely Hates You
I’ve never been able to use the phrase “out of morbid curiosity” so sincerely as I was able to when answering the question shouted at asked to me by Braak, “Why are you watching the Two and a Half Men premier?”
Like most people who aren’t the sizable majority of people on Earth, I don’t watch Two and a Half Men normally. I’ve caught a few minutes here or there (more now that FX reruns it mercilessly). I thought I got the basic idea – it’s just a joke machine, where the jokes are Charlie’s a horny lush, Alan’s a sad sack/straight man, and the kid’s too old to write jokes for anymore, I guess.
I had no idea the whole thing was built on utter hatred and loathing of all its characters. But the opening half of 2.5M (as I imagine the big fans call it) – an extended sequence of metaphorically pissing on Charlie Sheen’s (still functioning, somehow) corpse – pretty much locked that one up.
It was one of the most mesmerizingly hideous half hours of television I’ve ever watched.
Going down the list from memory:
- The funeral was almost entirely populated by Charlie’s ex-girlfriends, all of whom he seemed to have given some kind of STD, all of whom just wanted to make sure he was dead and/or piss on the corpse (stay classy, Jenny McCarthy). Oh, and Charlie’s dealer (Martin Mull – always good to see, really) who wanted to know how he was going to get reimbursed for the apparent $38,000 Charlie spent on drugs.
So – again, I don’t watch the show, so maybe this was clearer than I knew – 2.5M is using a character’s funeral to inform the audience that the deceased wasn’t so much a horny lush as he was a disease-riddled sociopath with a massive drug problem. Which I suppose is Chuck Lorre’s way of saying “We’re actually going to be burying Charlie Sheen tonight, not Charlie Harper, and you at home in the viewing audience are just going to have to make the distinction on your own.”
- Charlie’s mom takes a moment from her son’s funeral to point out that she will be selling his lovely beachfront property and open houses are on Sunday. Not even Lucille Bluth is this cruel about her children.
- The show pretty explicitly states that after Rose, the recurring stalker/love-interest(?) of Charlie, eventually ran off with Charlie to be married in Paris only to catch him cheating on her that same day, she pushed him in front of a moving train. Nobody in the audience seems to have a problem with this. In fact, the housekeeper actually seems to find it kind of funny.
- The .5 man-child’s reaction to hearing his uncle’s death described as “A balloon full of exploding meat,” is an affectless, “I’m hungry. Is anybody else hungry?” That is the kind of shit Dexter needs Harry’s Code to keep from saying out loud.
- Next scene, Alan and Charlie’s mom is explaining patiently how even though Charlie left the house with Alan, she’s still going to sell it on account of he can’t afford it – and she’s keeping all the money to pay the housekeeper, rather than give any of it to Alan. Again, Lucille Bluth is becoming a far more impressive TV mom to me.
- .5 Man-Child’s response to all this: Fart. OK, calling this kid a Dexter-in-the-making may have been giving him too much credit.
- Next scene: John Stamos arrives and realizes it’s Charlie’s house, and he has bad memories of a night he and Charlie had a three-way with a girl, only the girl passed out and “it became a two-way.” Now, I think the joke here is that he and Charlie hooked up (haha! Gay), but because the previous scenes painted Charlie as kind of a monster, now I think Stamos and Charlie just, um…kept going with the girl even though she passed out (haha! Rape).
- New cameo! It’s Dharma and Greg! No, not the actors, the actual characters from Chuck Lorre’s previous show, Dharma and Greg. And oh-ho! Ten years later, they’re trapped in a hideous bickering marriage where each threatens the other with divorce and Greg wishes he were dead. Haha! Fuck you, Dharma and Greg fans!
- Charlie’s ashes finally arrive by UPS, because of course the sitcom gods know that accidental ash-scattering is comedy gold.
- Alan gets about 30 seconds to talk to the ashes as though he had a brother that he loved – y’know, like a real human emotion – Whuup! There’s Ashton Kutcher in the window! And there go the ashes.
- And that’s pretty much the last we’re going to talk about Charlie, because we’re on to Ashton Kutcher, who is a suicidal billionaire who takes off his wet clothes (he went to drown himself before realizing the ocean’s cold).
- Which also has to suck for Alan, who had about a minute to be the star of this goddamn show before being immediately upstaged by a young, handsome rich guy who is, Alan notes, because Alan gets
creepier every moment he’s on the screen – “Hung like an elephant.”
After getting out of the very cold ocean. OK. So I guess Alan’s just hung like a gnat and can’t figure out proportions? Haha! Fuck you, Alan! (A name I’m sure CBS toyed with changing the show too, flush with their fleeting Shit My Dad Says success.)
-Skipping ahead here, Ashton and Alan go to a bar, girls are into Ashton but not Alan (go figure), they all go home and the girls go upstairs with Ashton, leaving Alan behind. The next morning, Ashton tells Alan blithely, “I had sex with those two girls!” to which Alan replies, “I masturbated and cried myself to sleep.”
Well, good luck, Alan. I’m now reasonably certain this season’s going to end with you growing more and more despondent and next season opening with YOUR death by suicide, at which point it’ll just be Ashton and the .5 half-man, now a full man himself!
And they can call it Two Dudes!
And CBS viewers will continue to watch in droves, because they don’t realize that Chuck Lorre wants to hate-fuck the audience with comedy.