Country of origin United States
Genre SitcomBlack comedy
Final episode date 19 February 2015
|Created by Chuck LorreLee Aronsohn|
Starring Charlie SheenJon CryerAngus T. JonesMarin HinkleMelanie LynskeyHolland TaylorConchata FerrellJennifer TaylorApril BowlbyAshton KutcherAmber TamblynEdan Alexander
Theme music composer Chuck LorreLee AronsohnGrant Geissman
Composer(s) Dennis C. BrownGrant Geissman
Theme song Two and a Half Men Theme Song
Cast Charlie Sheen, Angus T Jones, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, Conchata Ferrell
Two and a Half Men is an American television sitcom that began broadcast on CBS on September 22, 2003, and ended on February 19, 2015 after 12 seasons. Originally starring Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones, the series was about a hedonistic jingle writer, Charlie Harper; his uptight brother Alan; and Alan's son Jake. After Alan divorces, he moves with his son to share Charlie's beachfront Malibu house and complicates Charlie's freewheeling life.
- Sheens dismissal and replacement
- Jones departure and conversion
- Other criticism
- Guest stars
- CSI Crime Scene Investigation
- Due Date
- Critical reception
- American television ratings
- Awards and nominations
In 2010, CBS and Warner Bros. Television reached a multiyear broadcast agreement for the series, renewing it through at least the 2011–12 season. On February 24, 2011, though, CBS and Warner Bros. decided to end production for the rest of the eighth season after Sheen entered drug rehabilitation and made "disparaging comments" about the series' creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. Sheen's contract was terminated on March 7. Ashton Kutcher (as Walden) was hired to replace him the following season.
On April 26, 2013, CBS renewed the series for an 11th season after closing one-year deals with Kutcher and Cryer. Jones, who was attending college, was relegated to recurring status for season 11, but never made a single appearance until the series finale. He was replaced by Jenny (portrayed by Amber Tamblyn), Charlie's previously unknown daughter. Season 11 premiered on September 26, 2013. On March 13, 2014, CBS renewed the series for a 12th season, which CBS subsequently announced would be the final season. The season premiered on October 30, 2014 with the episode "The Ol' Mexican Spinach" and concluded on February 19, 2015, with the 40-minute finale "Of Course He's Dead". The success of the series led to it being the fourth-highest revenue-generating program for 2012, earning $3.24 million an episode.
The series revolved initially around the life of the Harper brothers Charlie (Charlie Sheen) and Alan (Jon Cryer), and Alan's son Jake (Angus T. Jones). Charlie is a bachelor who writes commercial jingles for a living while leading a hedonistic lifestyle. When Alan's wife Judith (Marin Hinkle) decides to divorce him, he moves into Charlie's Malibu beach house, with Jake coming to stay over the weekends. Charlie's housekeeper is Berta (Conchata Ferrell), a sharp-tongued woman who initially resists the change to the household, but grudgingly accepts it. Charlie's one-night stand Rose (Melanie Lynskey) was first introduced as his stalker in the pilot episode.
The first five seasons find Charlie in casual sexual relationships with numerous women until the sixth season, when he becomes engaged to Chelsea (Jennifer Taylor), but the relationship does not last as Chelsea breaks off their engagement. Afterwards, Charlie flies to Paris in the eighth-season finale with his stalker Rose. In the ninth-season premiere, introducing a revamped show, it is revealed that Charlie died when he fell in front of a subway train in Paris. Suggestions are made that Rose pushed him in the train's path after learning Charlie had cheated on her.
Alan's experiences are somewhat different. Throughout the series, Alan continues to deal with his son Jake's growing up, and the aftermath of his divorce, when he has little success with women. His marriage to Kandi (April Bowlby) at the end of the third season was short-lived. In the fourth season, Alan is back at the beach house paying alimony to two women out of his meager earnings as a chiropractor. In the seventh season, he begins a relationship with Lyndsey McElroy (Courtney Thorne-Smith), the mother of one of Jake's friends. Their relationship is temporarily suspended when Alan cheats on her and accidentally burns down her house, but the relationship eventually resumes.
In the ninth-season premiere (after Charlie's death), the beach house is sold to Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), an Internet billionaire going through a divorce from Bridget (Judy Greer). Alan leaves to live with his mother Evelyn (Holland Taylor) when the house is sold, but Walden invites both Alan and Jake back to live in the beach house. He needs friends and the three form a tightknit surrogate family.
At the end of the ninth season, Jake joins the United States Army; he appears occasionally during season 10, briefly dating Tammy (Jaime Pressly), who is 17 years his senior and has three kids, as well as Tammy's daughter Ashley (Emily Osment). In the 10th season, Walden proposes to his English girlfriend Zoey (Sophie Winkleman), only to be turned down, and discovers she has another man. He becomes depressed. Meanwhile, Alan gets engaged to his girlfriend Lyndsey, while Judith leaves her second husband Herb Melnick (Ryan Stiles) (to whom she had been married since the fourth season) after he cheats on her with his receptionist (they later reconcile). Alan and Lyndsey's relationship of three years ends as she wants to move on. Rose returns and briefly dates Walden, later stalking him as she did to Charlie. Walden begins to date a poor but ambitious woman named Kate (Brooke D'Orsay) and changes his name to "Sam Wilson", pretending to be poor to find someone who wants him for him, not for his money. They later break up when he reveals who he really is, though Kate realizes that Walden's money helped her become a successful clothing designer. Jake announces he is being shipped to Japan for a year, so Alan and he go on a father-son bonding trip. Other than a cameo in the series finale, this is the last time Jake appears on the show, though verbal references are made to him.
In the 11th season, a young woman arrives at the beach house, announcing that she is Charlie Harper's biological daughter, Jenny (Amber Tamblyn). She moves in with Walden and Alan, later revealing many of Charlie's traits, including a love of women and alcohol. Lyndsey begins dating Larry (D. B. Sweeney) and in an attempt to learn more about Larry, Alan takes on the pseudonym "Jeff Strongman". His double-life becomes complicated when "Jeff" begins dating Larry's sister, Gretchen (Kimberly Williams-Paisley).
In the 12th season, Walden decides to reprioritize his life after a health scare by deciding to adopt a baby. He realizes that the only way to do this is to be married, but does not know anyone who will do it, so he asks Alan to marry him and pretend that they are a gay couple, thus ensuring success at adopting. Jenny moves out of the house and moves in with Evelyn due to Walden and Alan preparing to adopt. They adopt an African American child, Louis (Edan Alexander), and subsequently divorce to pursue relationships with women. Alan proposes to Lyndsey a second time, and she accepts, while Walden begins a relationship with Louis' social worker, Ms. McMartin (Maggie Lawson). Charlie is eventually revealed to be alive, having been kept prisoner by Rose until escaping, but he is killed before he can confront Walden and Alan.
Sheen's dismissal and replacement
Following a February 2010 announcement that Sheen was entering drug rehabilitation, filming of the show was put on hiatus, but resumed the following month. On April 1, 2010, People reported that after seven seasons, Sheen announced he was considering leaving the show. According to one source, Sheen quit the show after filming the final episode of season seven, purportedly due to his rejection of CBS's offer of $1 million per episode as too low. Sheen eventually stated that he would be back for two more seasons. On May 18, 2010, the New Zealand website Stuff.co.nz reported that a press release issued by Sheen's publicist confirmed that Sheen had signed a new contract for two years at $1.78 million per episode. "To put a fitting end on the two and one-half months of whirlwind speculation, I'm looking forward to returning to my CBS home on Monday nights," Sheen was quoted as saying.
On January 28, 2011, Sheen entered a rehabilitation center voluntarily for the third time in 12 months. According to Warner Bros. Television and CBS, the show was put on hiatus for an indefinite period of time.
The following month, after Sheen's verbal denunciations against Chuck Lorre during a radio interview with Alex Jones and an online interview with TMZ.com, CBS announced that Two and a Half Men would cease production for the rest of its eighth season. This affected an estimated 200 employees, and caused Warner Bros., CBS, Lorre, Sheen and other profit participants a loss of an estimated $10 million due to expected revenue from the unmade eight remaining episodes. Afterward, Sheen was interviewed on ABC's 20/20, NBC's Today, and CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, where he continued to criticize Lorre and CBS. On March 7, CBS and Warner Bros. Television jointly announced that they had terminated Sheen's Two and a Half Men contract, citing "moral turpitude" as a main cause of separation. No decision about the future of the show was announced at that time.
Cast members Marin Hinkle and Holland Taylor expressed sadness at Sheen's departure and personal problems. Jon Cryer did not publicly comment on the matter and in response, Sheen called him "a turncoat, a traitor, [and] a troll" in an E! Online interview, although he later issued a "half-apology" to Cryer for the remarks. Sheen sued Lorre and Warner Bros. Television for $100 million, saying that he had filed the lawsuit on behalf of himself and Two and a Half Men's cast and crew; however, only Sheen was named as a plaintiff in court documents.
In April 2011, Sheen mentioned during a radio interview after his tour's stop in Boston that CBS and he were talking about a possible return to the show. Lorre announced that same month that he had developed an idea for Two and a Half Men to be redone that would exclude Sheen and have Cryer in a key role alongside a new character. On May 13, CBS announced Ashton Kutcher would join the cast. Kutcher was quoted as saying, "I can't replace Charlie Sheen but I'm going to work my ass off to entertain the hell out of people!"
On August 2, 2011, it was reported that the season-nine premiere would begin with Sheen's character having been killed off and his ex-girlfriends attending his funeral. Afterward, Charlie's Malibu home would be put up for sale and interested buyers would include celebrities from Lorre's other sitcoms and John Stamos, as well as Kutcher's character, Walden Schmidt, "an Internet billionaire with a broken heart." Critics compared this situation to what happened in 1987 to Valerie Harper, who was fired from the Sitcom, Valerie (later titled Valerie's Family: The Hogans and then The Hogan Family). Her character was killed off-screen, and she was replaced the following season.
Sheen said he would watch his "fake funeral attended by [his] fake ex-girlfriends, from [his] very, very real movie theater, with [his] very real hotties in tow." Sheen's response to the season-nine premiere was very positive. He reportedly felt Charlie Harper's funeral was "eerie but fun". Sheen also felt that the introduction of Kutcher's character in a cloud of his own character's ashes was particularly enjoyable.
The attention Two and a Half Men received due to the change in characters gave the series a boost. Average total viewers during the 2011–2012 season rose 13% to 15 million, and the 5.2 rating in the 18–49 demographic rose by 27%. Kutcher's debut as the character Walden Schmidt, in the episode entitled "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt", was seen by 28.7 million people on September 19, 2011. The Nielsen ratings company reported that figure was higher than for any episode in the show's first eight seasons, when the series starred Sheen. At the 2012 Emmys, Two and a Half Men was nominated for four awards and won three of them, the most Emmys the show has won in a single year since it began. In 2012, Kutcher replaced Sheen as the highest-paid U.S. actor, receiving $700,000 per episode. For Kutcher's second season, the show moved to the 8:30 pm Thursday time slot, replacing Rules of Engagement. Two and a Half Men improved ratings for this time slot, which were up from the previous year. Jennifer Graham Kizer of IVillage thought that the series changed tone in the Kutcher era of the show, saying it felt "less evil". Lorre, Cryer, Hinkle, Taylor, Ferrell and Lynskey had nothing but praise for Kutcher, believing he'd "saved the show."
Kutcher was the highest-paid actor on television for four years according to Forbes, earning an estimated $24 million between June 2012 and June 2013, $750,000 per episode. Cryer was the second-highest paid star on American television, earning $600,000–$700,000 per episode.
Jones' departure and conversion
In a November 2012 interview with a Christian website, Angus T. Jones (Jake) said he had recently converted to Christianity and joined a Seventh-day Adventist church. He attacked the show as "filth that contradicts his moral values" and said that he was sick of being a part of it. He also begged fans to stop watching the show. Producers explained that Jones was not expected back on the set until 2013, as his character was not scheduled to appear in the final two episodes before the winter hiatus. In response to the controversy, Sheen issued a public statement claiming that "Jones' outburst isn’t an isolated incident but rather a symptom of the toxic environment surrounding the show" and blamed Chuck Lorre for the outburst. The following day, Jones issued a public apology for his remarks, and explained that he "cannot address everything that has been said or right every misstatement or misunderstanding." Jones left the series at the end of the 2012–2013 season and did not appear in season 11 despite initial reports that he would continue in a recurring, rather than a starring, role. The role of youngest family member was filled by Amber Tamblyn, who plays Jenny, the long-lost illegitimate daughter of Charlie Harper, and later by Edan Alexander, who plays Louis, Walden Schmidt's adopted son. On March 18, 2014, Angus T. Jones officially announced his departure from the show, stating he had been "a paid hypocrite". Nevertheless, he appeared in a cameo in the series finale on February 19, 2015.
The premise of Two and a Half Men depicts most of the female regular characters to be abusive toward men, while the female guest characters are female stereotypes. Lee Aronsohn has stated that the premise of Two and a Half Men was created amidst many other TV series centered around mainly women, which he viewed as a serious problem in television. The exact words he used attracted criticism, with Aronsohn accused of being a misogynist. Critics also point out that television is not dominated by women.
The following appeared in recurring roles or story arcs spanning multiple episodes:
Guest stars have included:
Charlie Sheen's real-life brother Emilio Estevez has guest-starred as an old friend of Charlie's; his father Martin Sheen has appeared as Rose's father. Sam Sheen, the real-life daughter of Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen, appeared as Lisa's daughter on November 22, 2004. Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher's fiancée and later wife, appeared on the show as his love interest in season 11.
Each episode's title is a dialogue fragment from the episode itself, usually offering no clue to the episode's actual plotline. The show's 100th episode ("City of Great Racks") aired on October 15, 2007. To celebrate this, a casino-inspired party was held at West Hollywood's Pacific Design Center. Warner Bros. Television also distributed blue Micargi Rover bicycles adorned with the Two and a Half Men logo along with the words "100 Episodes". Each bicycle came with a note saying, "You've made us very proud. Here's to a long ride together." The cast also gave the crew sterling silver key rings from Tiffany & Co. The key rings were attached to small pendants with "100" inscribed on one side and Two and a Half Men on the other.
All seasons except five, seven, eight, and 10-12 consist of 24 episodes. Season five was reduced to 19 episodes due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. Due to Sheen's personal life problems, season seven had 22 episodes. Season eight premiered on September 20, 2010, at 9:00 pm ET. CBS initially ordered 24 episodes for the season, but again due to Sheen's personal life, the show was put on hiatus after 16 episodes were produced, with production scheduled to resume on February 28. After a series of comments made by Sheen on February 24, 2011, CBS and Warner Bros. cancelled the remainder of the season.
On May 13, 2011, actor Ashton Kutcher was widely reported to be replacing Charlie Sheen as the lead on the show. The show's ninth season premiered on September 19, 2011. The first episode, "Nice to Meet You, Walden Schmidt", begins with Charlie Harper's funeral, and introduces Kutcher as billionaire Walden Schmidt, who buys Harper's house. On May 12, 2012, CBS renewed Two and a Half Men for a 10th season, moving it to Thursday nights at 8:30 pm, following The Big Bang Theory. For the 2013–14 season, the show was moved to the Thursday 9:30-10:00 pm Eastern slot. As of February 27, 2014, the series' time slot was moved to a half-hour earlier at the 9:00-9:30 slot.
Two and a Half Men entered local United States broadcast syndication in 2007, with the first four seasons available to local stations (largely CW affiliates in the major U.S. television markets through major deals with Tribune Broadcasting and the Sinclair Broadcast Group). On September 6, 2010, FX began airing the series daily nationwide. Syndicated shows are sold in multiyear cycles, with the first cycle the most expensive. Two and a Half Men's first cycle is nine years in length. If no ninth season had occurred because of Sheen's departure, due to the first cycle's premature end, Warner Bros. would not have received about $80 million in license fees. While local stations would prefer to have as many episodes as possible available to them, an early start to the second cycle would lower the cost of the show for them.
The series airs in over 50 countries. In Australia, it airs on Nine Network, GO!, TV Hits, and Fox8. In Canada it airs on CTV, CTV Two, and City. It airs on ATV World in Hong Kong. In India, Singapore, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, the series airs on Star World and on the WB Channel. In Israel, it airs on yes Comedy. In Ireland, it airs on Comedy Central and RTÉ Two. It airs on Duke in New Zealand. In the Philippines, it also airs on Studio 23 (now aired on Jack TV), and in South Africa, it airs on SABC3 and M-net. It airs on Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, Viva, and ITV2 in the United Kingdom.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
In 2007, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre contacted CSI: Crime Scene Investigation executive producer Carol Mendelsohn about a crossover. At first, the idea seemed unlikely to receive approval; however, it resurfaced when Mendelsohn and Lorre were at the World Television Festival in Canada and they decided to get approval and run with it. When Mendelsohn was giving a talk, she accidentally mentioned the crossover, that same day Variety Magazine was already inquiring about the crossover episodes. Mendelsohn later stated: "We're all used to being in control and in charge of our own shows and even though this was a freelance-type situation ... there was an expectation and also a desire on all of our parts to really have a true collaboration. You have to give a little. It was sort of a life lesson, I think."
"The biggest challenge for us was doing a comedy with a murder in it. Generally, our stories are a little lighter," stated Lorre in an interview. "Would our audience go with a dead body in it? There was a moment where it could have gone either way. I think the results were spectacular. It turned out to be a really funny episode." The Two and a Half Men episode "Fish in a Drawer" was the first part of the crossover to air, on May 5, 2008, written by CSI writers Sarah Goldfinger, Evan Dunsky, Carol Mendelsohn, and Naren Shankar. George Eads is the only CSI: Crime Scene Investigation cast member to make a cameo in this episode.
Three days later, the second part of the crossover aired, the CSI episode "Two and a Half Deaths". Gil Grissom (William Petersen) investigated the murder of a sitcom diva named Annabelle (Katey Sagal), who was found murdered while she was filming her show in Las Vegas. The episode was written by Two and a Half Men creators Lorre and Aronsohn; Sheen, Cryer, and Jones all make uncredited cameos in this episode as themselves, in the same clothes their characters were wearing in "Fish in a Drawer".
At the end of 2010 Film Due Date, a scene from Two and a Half Men is shown, in which Sheen and Cryer appear as their characters, while Ethan Chase (played by Zach Galifianakis in the movie) plays Stu, Jake's tutor.
Two and a Half Men received mostly mixed reviews from critics throughout its run. The New York Daily News has described the sitcom as "solid, well-acted and occasionally funny." Conversely Graeme Blundell, writing for The Australian, described it as a "sometimes creepy, misogynistic comedy". Ashton Kutcher's debut was met with mixed reviews, and reviews for season nine were also mixed. However, reviews of the 10th season were much more positive. Cartermatt thought that the summer away gave the writers time to figure out Kutcher's character, come up with some interesting storylines, and that overall the show was getting better. It has been labeled as "one of America's most successful comedy shows." Ellen Gray of Daily News praised the shows' legacy just before the premiere of the finale. The show is credited as being the reason The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, and Mom were all made. Men's success was what enabled these other Chuck Lorre shows to be made and be successful. Following the filming of the final episode, Stage 26 of the Warner Brothers lot was renamed the "Two and a Half Men stage". After the finale, Two and a Half Men fans launched a global petition under the name "Yes To The Harpers", to have Charlie Sheen reprise the role of Charlie Harper alongside his former co-star Jon Cryer. This came to be after Chuck Lorre's vanity card in which he mentions Charlie Sheen's idea of a spinoff show named The Harpers.
American television ratings
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Two and a Half Men on CBS:
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Awards and nominations
The show has received multiple award nominations. It has been nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards (winning six technical awards, one for Kathy Bates for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series as The Ghost of Charlie Harper, and two for Jon Cryer as Alan Harper), and has also received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Charlie Sheen for Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy. The show won the award for Favorite TV Comedy at the 35th People's Choice Awards.