Two and a Half Men TV Poster Image

Two and a Half Men

(i)

 

Updated Odd Couple relies on jokes about sex, drinking.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although Alan, Charlie, and Jake have become a non-traditional family over time, the brothers’ parenting methods are hardly exemplary. Most relationships (between brothers, sons, mothers, girlfriends, etc.) involve some level of dysfunction, and Jake seems to get away with far more than he should.

Positive role models

Although Charlie is a clear example of what not to do (in real life too!), his bad behavior (including womanizing, gambling, and alcoholism) is glorified for laughs. Alan’s more responsible habits are often ridiculed and positive female role models are almost non-existent.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Frequent references to sex by main character, and plenty of sex talk in general (including references to things like bestiality, strippers and hookers). Scenes of men and women kissing and in bed.

Language

Characters use words like "assface," "peckerhead," "bitch," "fart," etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In the first eight seasons, Charlie’s problems with alcohol are a running joke. He often drinks hard liquor during the day and gets drunk to the point of blackout (and falling off decks, etc.). It’s not uncommon to see him sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of alcohol and a half-full glass.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adult-oriented comedy pins most of its jokes on references to alcohol and sex. One character's promiscuous behavior (and his ongoing problem with alcohol) is played for laughs, and episodes have implied oral sex, masturbation, etc. Characters also use words like "assface," "peckerhead," "bitch," etc. Female role models are scarce, and most women are portrayed as controlling, confused, or desperate. There are also jokes about a woman questioning her sexual orientation and a running gag about a single woman being a stalker. One of the characters is a boy coming into adulthood. Star of the first eight seasons, Charlie Sheen, is often in the news for real-life behavior involving violence, drugs, prostitution, and family drama.

What's the story?

While going through yet another painful divorce, uptight chiropractor Alan (Jon Cryer) reluctantly moves himself and his son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), in with his serially single brother, Charlie (Charlie Sheen), a hard-drinking, womanizing jingle writer who’s living the bachelor’s dream inside an oceanfront Malibu beach house. But as a newly formed, non-traditional family comprised of TWO AND A HALF MEN, the brothers can’t help but clash over their glaring differences. In later seasons, Charlie's character dies (offscreen) and is replaced by Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), a heartbroken internet billionaire.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

It's an Odd Couple in today's world -- single dad, self-involved bachelor brother/uncle, and precocious kid. Add to that a soon-to-be ex-wife (Marin Hinkle) questioning her sexuality, an overtly emotional mother (Holland Taylor), and a neighbor (Melanie Lynskey) who’s a full-time stalker, and you've got a real nut house packed into 30 minutes. With Mel Brooks' pen it might work, but instead, Two and a Half Men falls into the dreaded sitcom trap of predictable story lines about boys chasing girls, and lame jokes about hookers and phone sex. In fact, if it weren’t for some scene-stealing secondary characters -- including Taylor’s turn as the brothers’ self-absorbed mother and Lynskey’s spot-on portrayal of the bubbly stalker-next-door -- the show would be a total waste of time.

Maybe the creators were hoping for the same kind of success as Full House, with its admittedly cheesy yet occasionally poignant take on single parenthood. But Charlie Sheen is no Uncle Jesse, and the series is aimed so squarely at parents that the presence of an actual kid seems kind of strange. With Charlie Sheen's dramatic exit from the show, Kutcher's character takes over where Sheen left off.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's familiar Odd Couple formula. Would the show be better if it didn't rely on such clear-cut stereotypes? Why do most situation comedies rely on such predictable formulas?

  • Do you think the series paints an unfair picture of female behavior? Given the behavior and attitudes of his father and uncle, how must Jake, the young boy, view women?

  • Does playing Charlie’s bad behavior for laughs make it seem any less "bad"? Is he an obvious example of what not to do, or does he function as a likeable antihero?

  • Does Charlie Sheen's real life misbehavior have any affect on how you view this show? Do you think an actor's work should be judged by itself, or taken into context with his real-life behavior?

TV details

Premiere date:September 22, 2003
Cast:Ashton Kutcher, Charlie Sheen, Holland Taylor, Jon Cryer
Network:CBS
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old August 7, 2010

Love it

its an amazingly funny show love it!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Kid, 10 years old April 1, 2010
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 10 year old Written bySTEPcoach October 29, 2010

No kids allowed!

fugiddaboudit! This should be rated R! Just watching this alone, I get embarrassed sometimes. No kids allowed!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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