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The ‘Two and a Half Men’ Series Finale Was One of the Most Bizarre Episodes in TV History

The 'Two and a Half Men' Series Finale Was One of the Most Bizarre Episodes in TV History

Look, I don’t watch “Two and a Half Men.” You probably don’t watch “Two and a Half Men.” The show finished in the top 20 for nine of its 12 years on the air, watched by 16 million viewers at its height, and we don’t know any of them, right?

Based on the writeups of last night’s series finale, though, it seems like we’ve been missing some seriously crazy shit. “Of Course He’s Dead” opens with the implication that Melanie Lynskey’s wacky neighbor has been keeping Charlie Sheen’s purportedly dead character in a hole in her basement, “Silence of the Lambs”-style, for the last four years, and it just gets crazier from there. Put it this way: It ends with show co-creator Chuck Lorre getting an anvil dropped on him. As a committed “Two and a Half Men” ignoramus, I’m not qualified to judge whether this is self-indulgent nonsense or a half-brilliant act of metatextual self-immolation, but it’s probably the only sitcom finale to rip off the helicopter and cross sequence from Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” in its final moments. Here’s what the properly “Men”- versed had to say. But first, a brief sample of the madness, as Sheen makes his only “appearance,” in animated GIF form.

Reviews of “Two and a Half Men’s” “Of Course He’s Dead”

Gil Ozeri, Vulture

Even by “Two and a Half Men” standards. The episode had everything. It was ridiculously dirty, including a “Two and a Half Men” staple — a rape joke, a weird collage of meta references, goat-fucking, crappy 3-D animation, and of course death! How does this show get away with this? The ending of the animation is also bizarro — Porky the Pig comes out wearing a bra and says, “That’s all folks!” which in any other context would be dynamite, but here it was just part of a shit sandwich.

Daniel Fienberg, HitFix

The joke, I guess, is that in the aftermath of everything going all higgledy-piggledy between Lorre and Sheen, Sheen professed that he was winning and Lorre professed that he could replace Sheen with Ashton Kutcher, but nobody actually won because they both got crushed until the piano of pride? Except that Charlie Sheen’s career has barely been impacted and he bilked FX for 100 episodes of the dire “Anger Management,” while Lorre got four additional seasons of one of the great syndicated cash cows in of the past 25 years. So they both got crushed by pianos, but neither of them actually lost. The only people who lost were fans who watched an hour of the “Two and a Half Men” finale waiting for Charlie Sheen only to see a body double get flattened by a baby grand.

Max Nicholson, IGN

Unfortunately, while the finale was definitely centered around Charlie Harper, the end result was a big, fat pile of nothing. Honestly, I would probably be furious if I were a “Two and a Half Men” fan. Luckily, I’m not. Instead, I was just mildly irritated that I had to sit through 45 minutes of eye-rolling buildup to get to the spiteful and small-minded punchline — which didn’t even include Sheen.

Brian Lowry, Variety

One could make an argument that without Sheen, the producers should have junked the idea and skipped all the foreplay. But the episode was seemingly designed less to provide closure than as an extended rejoinder to those who have criticized “Men” through the years – even weaving in a line in which Kutcher says to Angus T. Jones’ Jake, “Amazing you’ve made so much money with such stupid jokes.”

Along the way, there was an animated sequence – presumably to prolong the uncertainty regarding Sheen; a “Silence of the Lambs” homage; several lines that broke the fourth wall and called back to the circumstances surrounding Sheen’s exit, including a quip about “a crazy rant about a former employer,” no less; and unnecessary celebrity cameos, among them Arnold Schwarzenegger as an LAPD detective.

“This whole thing has been going on way too long,” Schwarzenegger concludes, echoing an earlier moment when Kutcher looks directly at the camera and says, “I can’t wait for this to be over.”

Ken Tucker, Yahoo! TV

“Two and a Half Men” has always been a sturdy little sitcom. Co-created by Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, “Two and a Half Men” was, if you break it down, just another variation on “The Odd Couple.” The jokes on “Two and a Half Men” were simple, blunt, and frequently vulgar — if the show can claim any shred of originality, it was in Lorre’s belief that the mass-American audience that composes the CBS viewership would enjoy humor that was more crass than most network shows dared. In many interviews, the delightfully self-aware Lorre frequently said that if Men had aired first on pay-cable, its content would have been perceived as tame, but telling jokes about private parts and sexcapades in primetime to the broadest audience possible placed “Men” in a context in which it came off as daring, in a wink-wink, nudge-nudge sort of way.

Robert Bianco, USA Today

After 12 years, there’s really no sense re-reviewing “Men” or rehashing complaints. So let’s just say this: It was often funny in those early days, it made a lot of people laugh throughout, and it provided steady employment to some very good actors (Cryer, Lynskey, Conchata Ferrell and Holland Taylor chief among them.) And without its huge success, we might never have had “The Big Bang Theory” or “Mom,” two better shows from Lorre.

So just say “goodbye” and leave the “good riddance” to Sheen.

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