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TV Review: Two and a Half Men – Season 9

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It took me a long time to get over the blatant misogyny of Two and a Half Men. I must have seen a really bad episode once and it turned me off. However, while visiting my 80-year-old mother four years ago, she insisted I watch it. We watched a new episode and I chuckled a bit. We then watched about five additional episodes in syndication during that visit. I was a convert! Once I returned home I made sure to catch up on all the episodes I had missed. I couldn’t help it. It was always on one channel or another.

I loved how the show was raunchy in some places and yet very clever. I decided it wasn’t misogynistic, it was a fantastic juxtaposition between the extremes in men: one sweet and sensitive man considered a “loser” and one man considered a “winner” who was up-front with what he wanted from women. The loser, Alan Harper (played by Jon Cryer) lived happily off his brother while trying to raise his son Jake (played by Angus T. Jones) after his divorce. The winner, the infamous Charlie Sheen, lives the lifestyle of which many people dream. The supporting cast of the disapproving mother Evelyn (played by Holland Taylor) and Berta (played by Conchata Ferrell) were a riot. Jane Lynch as the psychiatrist was truly wonderful.

We watched Jake grow up and into his role as a dumb-but-loveable teenager. We heard Berta tell her tales of an interesting past life and her disappointing family members and many of us could relate to her. Berta often stole the show, but then, at some point, each of the supporting cast did.

The “Squab” episode still makes me howl in laughter as I watch Jake finally break Evelyn, a feat neither Charlie nor Alan ever accomplished. Each season I wondered how they were going to keep the show interesting and funny. As Jake got older, so did Charlie. I was glad they brought in the colonoscopy episode (“Yay, no polyps!”) and showed Charlie’s mojo not being what it used to be. The writers were brilliant. Even though Alan was a mooch, there was humanity and kindness that surrounded him. Even though Charlie was a sleaze, he never lied to women about who he was. He was noble in his own way. The writers made these caricatures real to us and yet the viewer could see that, when all is said and done, this was a family. Speaking of family, I also loved the cameos with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. This show was about family: the quirks and the love-hate relationships.

Everyone by now knows the premise of the show and all the drama that ensued after Charlie had his breakdown. Everyone by now has their own opinion about the people involved and the aftermath. They “exploded” Charlie off the show so that he could never return; a transparent and vengeful act. I was so disappointed in the first Season 9 episode.

Last year, if Charlie had died, there would have been some meaningful feelings about Charlie’s death. After all, the family members were portrayed for eight seasons as loving each other in their own way. Not one tear was shed for Charlie. It was a tear-down of his character and it was not at all funny. Even if you abhor Charlie Sheen, I think it is the writers’ job to make the change seamless. We survived the changing Darrins on Bewitched, Spin City survived changing Michael J. Fox for Charlie Sheen, and Drew Carey took over for Bob Barker on The Price is Right with no problems. On Roseanne, they changed out the Becky character by talking smack about the Darrin change. It was very cleverly done. But in all cases of switching main characters, the shows that lasted have stayed true to the integrity of the show.

Ashton Kutcher was brought in to replace Charlie Sheen. The entire premise (a sad-sack billionaire lands on Charlie’s doorstep after a failed suicide attempt) was ridiculous. I was hoping they were going to bring Ashton in as Charlie’s illegitimate son, which I think would have had more depth of character.

Regardless, I wasn’t consulted, so we are stuck with this ludicrous plot. In the six episodes I have watched in the new Sheen-less season, I see nothing left of the original fun. Jake has become a conniving high-school-dropout wannabe, Alan has become a pathetic parasite, Berta has become nothing more than mean and lust-filled, and Ashton, well, he’s Ashton. First, why do they have Ashton naked all the time? He has a fine body, but it isn’t that great. Why do they have his hair long and stringy? He looks like Jesus. They make him out to have a big schlong and he is supposedly to-die-for attractive, but who wants to schtup Jesus? It’s gross.

My impression is they are trying to take our minds off the fact that Ashton Kutcher can’t act his way out of a paper bag. He was great on Punk’d but that was about it. Again, they didn’t ask my opinion but I think Daniel Tosh would have been a better addition to the cast. He has the same unapologetic manner of Charlie Sheen and has a dark, edgy humor. OK, maybe that’s crazy talk, but the thought of Tosh getting therapy from Jane Lynch made me laugh which is more than this new show has done. Speaking of laughter, the laugh-track on the new episodes is either way too loud or it only appears louder because no one else is laughing.

Berta used to be so funny but all she does now is fantasize over Ashton and take mean shots at Alan. Alan used to be the symbol of hope that life would get better if you try to be good in life. Now he is content living off a stranger. Jake used to be a great character because he was innocent and sweet. They are all so one-dimensional now that the show is painful to watch.  This picture demonstrates how uncomfortable these actors are together.  They don’t even believe in themselves in this new season.

In this week’s show, Evelyn winds up in bed with Ashton. There is nothing fun about this turn of events.

I understand that there were “creative differences” with Charlie Sheen. And sure, Charlie made his own bed. I’m not asking for them to bring Charlie back. However, I don’t think it is too much to ask that the writers stay true to the original theme and keep the characters loveable and realistic. This new Two and a Half Men show really disappoints those of us who spent the last several years becoming immersed in the characters. I’ll continue to watch the show, but only in syndication. It seems to me that even the writers are done with this show and are now just going through the motions. Stick a fork in it CBS, it’s done.

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About Alexandria Jackson

  • eagletrek2

    Hi I always like the show with Charlie
    I do not like the show with the new person
    So I stop watching it.
    I know of a way to bring charlie back
    To life if they ever wanted to bring him
    Back. There is way but I’m.not saying it
    But for me this show all ready gone plus Jake
    is no longer small to be 1/2 man.

  • tunc

    Season 9 definitely sucks. When there was a problem, they should have found someone just to replace Charlie Sheen, not deleting the the character. I agree hat Lindsay sucks, Allan became more sucker and he is also not funny anymore. I am not going to watch a new season.

  • Although season 9 isn’t all that bad, I really, really miss Charlie Sheen. The entire premise of the show is entirely dead, and now it’s like “Charlie who?”

    My suggestion is start off the Season 10 premiere with something unrelated going on, and then at the end of the episode, Charlie knocks on the door and demands to get his house back.

  • tin

    Excellent review.
    Couldn’t agree more. I watched two episodes and couldn’t make myself go through another one…
    Ashton’s character is such a loser. Depressing humour… Not funny at all. it’s such a shame. It was my favourite show.

  • kitten

    the “actress” playing Lindsay, Alan’s girlfriend, should be canned. She’s not funny and is crude to boot–can’t stand her!

  • jake smith

    i remember when i looked foreward to the old shows.we want charlie back . send ashton back to the 70’s

  • norcaltandem

    My wife and I were longtime viewers of original show. Two episodes of the new remake and we were out of there. Too bad, so sad.

  • Igor

    Excellent review of a failing show.

  • Christian

    I don’t know Alexandria, but I loved the thoughtful review. You described my thoughts and feelings about the new season very well! Great job!

  • tennesseerider

    I think since Aston got on there that the show is not worth my time to watch, it is about NOTHING BUT SEX, Bring charlie back or cancel the show!!!!!!

  • pov

    I agree with the review. The new version doesn’t do it for me.

  • rod3126

    This WILL be the last season for Two And 1/2 Men. It’s JUST NOT THE SAME without Charlie! Ashton is NOT funny, looks like a beach bum. Totally not believable. I won’t be watching anymore. Chuck and CBS need to swallow their pride and BRING BACK CHARLIE. May I suggest a scenario where this season has been one of the character’s nightmare? or even dilusional sequence of events due to Alan’s upcoming mental state? Come on CBS! It’s time to listen to your viewers.

  • Captain Akhmed

    Alexandria your review once again is spot on. You undoubtedly are the wisest blog critic out there with your keen insight and witty sense of humor. What a pleasure it is to come to your page. You hit another home run with this one. Hope to hear more from you.

  • Brinafr3sh

    Agreed, when they killed off Charlie Sheens character with sick humor about his death, they killed off the whole show. Bye bye, Two and a Half Men was fun while it lasted. Gonna miss the original one.

  • Or “Two Half-men” ….and Jesus.

  • Colin M

    I agree that they should have connected the new episodes a bit more with the original premise. Let’s face it the show WAS ALL ABOUT Sheen in its original days and just killing him off without much emotion or taste was just not in continuity with how the show was. Plus, Ashton has not been a great replacement. I really liked his role as Kelso in That 70’s Show, in fact, he was perfect as that character. But trying to fill Sheen’s void just hasn’t worked for Ashton. Sheen was adult, mature, and grounded despite the character (and actor) being a drunken, immoral womanizer. It worked! Ashton is just too different, and the writing hasn’t worked for him. I agree with Sheen, don’t blame Ashton really, blame Chuck Lorre for not keeping the same quality in the new episodes and having it stay “Two and a Half Men”. They could have very easily have made this a spin off called “3 Men”, so as not to tick off the fans of the original years so much. Sheen WAS the show.

  • Al, I like that idea. Ponygirl, I’m sorry. I miss the old shows too.

  • ponygirl

    boo hoo…cant laugh cant cry, Miss Charlie!! sooo much, show is a bust, the writers could have done better and the Charlie replacement could have been better matched…at least funny

  • al

    i really agree on the illegitamate child story line. i hold true to my own idea, have charlie’s kid become alan’s ward and all charlie’s royalties go to him. hillarity would be when jake convinces charlie jr. to use his position as future owner of the house on 18th birthday to make uncle alan sleep in the guest room and Jake could begin his life of debotchery

  • Alexandria Jackson

    A new Jesus trend? I love it!

  • Bailey

    I agree, I think the show should just be pitched. I mean, maybe one of the main motivations behind employing Kutcher was they are trying to set a new trend with the Jesus thing? You have to admit he is just a little attractive. Myself being female of course I would say that. And well, that sells in showbiz, so he’s got an immediate in with that.
    And I mean of course we can’t expect them to be absolutely perfect together right off the bat, but I was most definitely disappointed with how things turned out as well.
    Lovely article. 🙂