Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Two Cents about Two and a Half Men


Jon Cryer & Me – June 2011   
 
Like 28 million other viewers, I was eager to see how producer Chuck Lorre handled this season’s first episode of “Two and a Half Men,” knowing Charlie Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper, was killed off and replaced with Ashton Kutcher. For the record, I’ve been a huge fan of the show for all eight seasons. And I can’t say Monday night’s episode wasn’t funny.  It was, opening at the funeral with Alan Harper (Jon Cryer)  trying to give a serious eulogy, and all the women who ‘dated’ Charlie yelling out, “A sad day? Speak for yourself,” or “Charlie was a giver?  Yeah, he gave me herpes.”

Then when his TV mother, Evelyn (Holland Taylor), stood up like Mama Bear to demand they give her son “some respect,” she just couldn’t help the barracuda real estate broker in her from taking over and letting the crowd know she was selling Charlie’s beach house and that the flyers for the Open House were in the back of the room.

Did I laugh?  Sure I did, because there she was staying true to character, even at her son’s funeral.  And that goes along with what I often say about grieving – we’re all still always who we are, and our true selves peek out when we least expect it.  I’m never the one to say “too soon.”In fact, the day of my husband’s funeral, as I was getting dressed I was thrilled to notice I’d lost weight. And later put that moment in Poor Widow Me, and gave it the title, “I Lost My Husband & 3 Pounds.”

I also remember, when sitting in between my son and daughter in the very first row at the funeral, thinking, This is probably the only time in life we don’t want the best seats in the house. But I didn’t whisper that to my kids, or to the line of people who came by to offer their condolences, partly because my life isn’t a sitcom, and mainly because the next moment I was overcome with emotion.

And that’s what I feel was missing from last night’s “Two and a Half Men” episode…genuine emotion. To me it cried out for at least a little hint of reflection, that could have then moved right into something funny. As Alan sat on the couch holding his brother’s ashes, he could’ve spoken a bit longer, and more from the heart, to Charlie, and that would have been the moment. Then the new guy, Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), could’ve still interrupted, and the ashes still could’ve flown all over, just as they wrote it…grief relief bringing it back to comedy.
 
I keep thinking now about the episode years ago from “All in the Family,” when Edith Bunker died and Archie went upstairs to their bedroom and saw her slipper under the bed.  He lost it.  It was heartbreaking and yet sweet to see what we viewers really knew all along – that with all his bravado, he truly loved her.
 
And I’ll bet the Archie Bunker character didn’t lose any fans that day; he probably gained them. But that was the brilliant Norman Lear, and this was Chuck Lorre, who likely, in an attempt to diss Charlie Sheen, ended up compromising his show. That’s how I see it, anyway.
  
Please click on this YouTube video to see the final minutes from this episode of “All in the Family.”
Would love to hear what you think… www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UKrAYD3zX8