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.