I just read a review of 2 1/2 Men by a “communications professor” by the name of Robert Thompson. He admitted that while watching and critiquing the show, he would rather be balancing his checkbook.
The fact is, 2 1/2 Men is the only truly honest depiction of male and female behavior in our current American and possibly worldwide culture. It deals with real-life situations, and the greed, dishonesty and scamming that goes on at all levels of society and industry, producing the norms of life today. Its popularity, continuing with huge audience followers watching reruns, deny the premise put forth by this professor of communications.
From the working professional’s viewpoint, it is clear that the core of the show is the relationship between 2 brothers, Charlie and Alan, played by Sheen and Cryer. They are joint protagonists, and Sheen is the perfect foil for Cryer. Their interplay is worthy of the best of the Smothers Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and the 3 Stooges, the difference being that they are never seen to be “performing”, but just are; believable at every moment. The writing is so superior that one can sit through each show many times. There is a kind of inevitability in the substance of the patter, and one discovers nuances in funny lines with deep meaning. I myself relax in the evening watching yet again another episode. I have 72 of them saved. I recommend almost every episode as a model for the aspiring writer learning how to shape a script, with perfect character, plot, and story development.
It is a shame that a political situation developed between Sheen, joint creator Lorre, Warner Bros. and CBS. It has been decided that they should continue the run of this golden goose without Sheen. But it won’t and it shouldn’t work.
What Sheen and Cryer should do is develop their own show with an entirely different setting, and an entirely different family, and continue the exploration of familial situations for 2 disparate brothers. Of course, they would lose their supporting cast, which would be unfortunate. Apart from anything else, and aside from the show, it would be fun to watch how these parties will squabble over the age-old conundrum of who creates, and therefore owns, the fictitious characters of entertainment. Actors vs. writers vs. directors vs. financial backers. Another legal drama in the making. And they will suffer from the absence of Lorre, who is a writing genius, as well as the supporting cast, unequaled in anything I have ever seen.
If any sample of our civilization should be crammed into a space capsule for aliens to see, it would be every episode of 2 1/2 Men as it presently exists.