This post contains spoilers from the Two and a Half Men finale which aired last night. Read at your own risk. I wanted to take a break from plugging my series of posts on my personal website about being visually impaired, up to eight as of this writing with more to come, to talk about last night's series finale of Two and a Half Men. I have been a fan of Two and a Half Men for a long time though not since the very beginning of the series. I am one of those people that never seems to get into a series when it first comes on the air. My current favorite show, The Big Bang Theory, is one that I started watching when season 1 came out on DVD. I like to binge watch shows and so I used to buy a lot of TV on DVD for that purpose. The first season of Two and a Half Men did not come out on DVD until the show was in season 4 or 5. But I did buy it and I did watch it and I became a fan and started to watch the show on television. Two and a Half Men was one of the shows I would actually make it a point to watch every week once I started to watch the current episodes. I wasn't big on watching network TV then and almost everything I watched was either on DVD or on TV Land or something. What can I say? I love old sitcoms. I was more of a fan of the Charlie Harper years than the Walden Schmidt years but not too much more. I thought the show went a different direction after the Charlie years and was fine with it. So this series finale was the first one in quite some time that I was eagerly anticipating. I haven't looked forward to a series finale this much since Friends and Frasier went off the air over a decade ago. So how did I enjoy the finale?
I loved it. I know that I am in the minority of people. A lot of people were upset that they did not get their Charlie Sheen return. Frankly, I was a return agnostic. My enjoyment or lack of enjoyment for the finale was not going to be determined by whether or not Charlie Sheen showed up. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Sheen's (Major League is one of my favorite sports movies) but as I said it wasn't critical. This was in part because I never really thought that he would come back. I didn't think he'd come back because I didn't think there was a way to bring him back that would have remained true to the series. Much is being made of Chuck Lorre's vanity card at the end of last night's episode where he spelled out the plan they came up for Charlie and Charlie's counter proposal. Basically, Charlie wanted to do a heart felt scene that would serve to set up a show with he and Jon Cryer called 'The Harpers'. This was getting a lot of support earlier today online from the vocal "Sheen should have come back" crowd. One commenter on a website I read thought that the Harpers was a great idea for a series and gave Charlie a lot of credit for coming up with it. The problem is that the Harpers wasn't a Charlie Sheen idea. He took characters that were created by someone else and wanted to make a new show out of them. Also, we saw the Harpers it was called the first eight seasons of Two and a Half Men. The other problem with the Charlie Sheen idea is that Two and a Half Men has never been a show that went for warm fuzzy feelings or syrupy sweet moments. Any scene that displayed even the most subtle hint of big heartedness and warm feelings was soon sucker punched by a joke about sex, drugs or farts. This was a staple of the show. If Married with Children was the anti-Cosby show, then Two and a Half Men was the anti-Full House. A comparison made a little more appropriate given one of the many cameo appearances last night. It isn't that I never found the show to be totally without heart. But the heart of the show was never obvious and over baring. A scene like the one described on the vanity card would have been a disaster if it had taken place. It would have betrayed everything that the show had ever been and not been welcomed by the fans. 'How I Met Your Mother' showed us what can happen when a series goes against it's own established rules and premise during that show's hated series finale last year. Charlie Harper being crushed by a piano in the show's finale scene was not disrespectful to Charlie Sheen the actor or his contributions to the show. A lot of online comments pointed out that it was a sign of how bitter Chuck Lorre was to drop a piano on a Charlie Sheen look-alike during that finale scene. Bitter? The next thing that happened was Lorre himself being crushed by a second piano. The deadly piano drops was an absurdist ending and that is what it should have been since Two and a Half Men was an absurdist comedy and that was especially true in the final couple of seasons. The show went meta last night and I thought it was the better for it. Two and a Half Men was never a critical darling. All who are associated with the show can take comfort in knowing that it was one of the most successful shows in the entire history of television. The success of Two and a Half Men cannot be laid entirely at the feet of Charlie Sheen or any single individual. When you capture lightning in a bottle you just have to go with it. The show addressed the absurdist nature of the plot with the help of a former California governor. Some people felt that the show was one hour of trashing Charlie Sheen. These people fit in to the category of people who weren't going to be pleased anyway. The show took as many inside shots at itself as it did at Charlie or anyone else. Besides which, Charlie Harper was mocked by those around him while Sheen was still on the show. Why all of a sudden change things now? The series ends with Alan and Walden still living in the beach house together. Why break them up? What would be the point of finally moving Alan out or marrying him off or something. Not every series finale needs to end with each character going their separate ways. The finale last night was for the fans. When I say it was for the fan I mean it was for the fans who were always fans. If someone was a fan until Charlie left and then stopped watching until last night, the show wasn't for you. The version of Two and a Half Men that existed with Charlie and the one that existed without him
weren’t the same show. If they had made Walden another Charlie then the end would have come a lot sooner because no new territory would exist to be mined. Some might say that ended up happening anyway. I’m not writing this to try and convince anyone otherwise. When people say that comedy is subjective, they mean it. What makes one person laugh may merit a shoulder shrug at best from the person in the next chair over.
Personally, I thought the whole thing worked. I'm a fan of breaking the forth wall and last night they took a sledge hammer to the forth wall. I'm a fan of absurdist comedy in general which is why the show held so much appeal for me. Two and a Half Men wasn't a critical darling. If it were me, I'd rather have their success than critical aclaim any day. A lot of shows that were critically aclaimed have been forgotten to history or are on their way. Better to be remembered and enjoyed by a much larger audience of people than just the critics. I thought Two and a Half Men ended the only way it could have ended while still remaining true to the overall tone of the show. I didn't need to see Charlie and Alan hug it out and Charlie and Walden slap high fives. Two and a Half Men has featured many screw you moments over the years but that would have been one too many.