Monday, 13 August 2012

Meet Your New Brother Walden! Why People Are Not Watching Two and a Half Men Anymore.

It used to be one of the highest grossing shows in America. The two brothers; milquetoast beta Alan Harper and alpha supremo Charlie Harper, brainless gullible Jake, and a maid, who is really mean and shit. They do stuff, Charlie goes off with this crazy chick called Rose, dies and is replaced. That's the plot, essentially. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't really like the show. It’s boring, predictable; the characters are one dimensional paper thin, the awkward beta/alpha dichotomy has been done before in better ways, and most importantly the program is not even remotely funny. I ended up watching a lot of it for the past year, when my flatmate, coming back from working on some abstruse phd in computer science, would literally flop in front of the TV and watch a Two and a Half men marathon, breaking open and sharing some beer, before collapsing into bed. Irish broadcasters RTE have recently bought the rights to air the ninth season as well, so that is another reason I wanted to write on it. This is a mistake on their part.

The reasons the ratings have collapsed, and will continue to collapse are simple. To put it simply, Two and a Half Men is the male equivalent of Sex and the City. The latter show, ageing, saggy, bitchy cougars sleeping with a plethora of alpha males, is a fantasy for women, completely denying and circumventing the austere reality of the ravages of time. Sex and The City marathons are quite common as well, even so far as hearing quotes as “women age better than men”, the poor, deluded things. But Two and a Half Men worked the same way. Everybody likes Charlie Harper. He’s rich, good looking, he’s got a fucking massive pad on the beach, and he’s banging rides every day of the week. He’s charming, sardonic and a complete and utter tool, but also teaching his nephew about women, basically a good uncle, in a way. That's why we love him. Then we have the antithesis, the spineless (and strongest part of the show in my opinion), twat you are supposed to hate, the younger brother Alan Harper. Alan, in stark contrast, is everyone’s worst nightmare; the pathologically nice guy with the nasty streak beneath it all, the guy who gets blown out perpetually by women, all of this exacerbated by the shitty job as a chiropractor, the humiliation of mooching off his brother and to top it all off, an idiotic, lackadaisical son. Yet this is the the dynamic that made time proclaim int the most important show of the decade. So, we have the fantasy, the money-spinner. Then, we have to ruin that, possibly because we have a female audience to cater for. We break the Larry David rule of comedy, your characters, do not change or learn anything, under any circumstances. It worked for Curb and Seinfeld, right?

As the show developed, the character of Charlie metamorphosed from charming asshole, to alcoholic, empty douchebag who visited prostitutes and developed oneitis for an ugly chick (by the show's standards). Lo and behold, real life Charlie blows up real life Charlie, and is killed off and Sheen is replaced. Enter Walden, and the reason for the show's subsequent fall from grace. First, Walden is not alpha in the way Charlie was. A billionaire, yes. Possessing looks in the top percentile also helps. But Walden has absolutely no game, no charm, being nothing more than Alan +, so to speak. He is spineless, socially awkward, and develops social oneitis for a single mother by the season's close. Not only are people missing the alpha/beta dichotomy that was there with Charlie Harper, the appeal of the show becomes almost too much of a fantasy. Nobody would buy Sex and the City with fucking old grannies that can have it all ken. Being a billionaire and looking like Kutcher is pretty much the exact same thing, far too ludicrous, just way too out there. 

Second, the real life actors. One of the reasons my flat mate enjoyed the show so much, was because in his words, he didn't know where "Charlie Harper began and Charlie Sheen ended". Aston Kutcher dinnae doo wild shit like holding women up at knifepoint or any of the other crazy WINNING stuff that Sheehan did. Well, I guess he did date that older bird once, I guess that it would be quite iconoclastic, defying social conventions and whatnot, for the feminists. Well no, not really it's fucking bullshit. Basically, Charlie = exciting, Aston = boring. I'd imagine it is the same for a lot of people who watch the program. Third, the show has no core anymore. As Ricky Gervais once said, you enjoy comedy TV more if you care for the characters. Even though all the characters on Two and a Half Men are assholes, one dimensional paper thin, pre Walden there was still a "dude, you're my brother and family love and look out for each other!" thing going on. Walden's awkward surrogate brother role simply doesn't work. Both leading actors have no chemistry either, no actual reason to be there rather than, oh look, we’re both under the same roof and here’s a big bag of money! Not the best way to write a sitcom. Fourth, the show has degenerated into that sort of over the top-ness that plagues shows when comedy writers run out of ideas. Lesbian grannies? That ain't funny. That crap gives most people more nightmares than ZMA. 

With Charlie Harper, we had The Dissolute Man. With those four problems, the show will continue to lose viewers, unless they get Sheen back, and boot Kutcher off the show. Then again, the show is a boring piece of shite, so who cares?  My flatmate now watches Top Gear. I dig cars.

By the way, is anyone out there weirded out by the fact that there are men in the twenties and thirties watching My Little Pony? Makes you feel alienated, doesn't it?

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