Two and a Half Men

Two and a Half Men is an Emmy Award nominated American television sitcom, which premiered on CBS on Monday, September 22, 2003, at 9:30 p.m., ET/PT. The series centers around a freewheeling bachelor, Charlie, whose carefree lifestyle is interrupted when his newly separated brother Alan moves in, along with Alan's son Jake. The show was co-created by executive producers Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn. In its third season, starting September 2005, it moved to Mondays at 9:00 p.m. (taking Everybody Loves Raymond's time slot). Two and a Half Men debuted in local syndication in September 2007, also soon to be syndicated on the FX cable network in 2010. Production on the show was halted on November 6, 2007 due to the 2007 WGA strike. The show returned March 17, 2008 with 9 episodes to conclude the fifth season. CBS also renewed the show for a sixth season, which premiered on September 22, 2008, exactly five years after the first episode of the series initially aired.


Charles Francis Harper (Charlie Sheen) is a successful 40-year-old bachelor who has a career writing advertisement jingles. Charlie resides in a large oceanfront home in Malibu, California, and is portrayed as a male chauvinistic, hedonistic womanizer; all he seems to care about is having sex. The plot begins when his younger brother Alan (Jon Cryer) becomes separated from his wife, moves out of their house, and has to move in with his brother. Alan shares custody of his son Jake (age 10 when the series began), who stays with him part-time. The title is in reference to the fact that Jake isn't an adult yet, and only "half a man."

Rose (Melanie Lynskey) is Charlie's zany neighbor and female stalker. Rose had a one night stand with Charlie shortly before the show started, which she believed to be more significant, and tends to enter his house through the patio in the most inopportune moments, expressing her ambition of obtaining Charlie; and often serving as a good, albeit crazy, friend and adviser. Although obviously troubled herself, Rose has stated a few times that she has a Master's degree in psychology, and Alan has referred to her as having two advanced degrees. In various episodes it is insinuated that Rose is very slowly orchestrating a psychological plan to win Charlie back. Early in the series, after she's become "Scrabble" friends with Alan (primarily as a way to get closer to Charlie), she's heard to say to herself, "Phase one, complete."

In one episode, Rose's father Harvey (Martin Sheen) asks Charlie of his intentions with his daughter after an apparent second one-night stand between the two. Harvey then meets Charlie and Alan's mother Evelyn and has an affair with her, as well as stalking her and popping in just like his daughter does. Harvey's mother exclaims that "that's what happens when you marry a first cousin," explaining Rose's family's dementia.

Another important recurring character is Berta (Conchata Ferrell), Charlie's sarcastic and sharp-tongued housekeeper. She trades insults with Charlie, and usually tolerates Alan as long as he doesn't make excessive demands for particular food products and often refers to him as "Zippy." Berta also enjoys occasionally starting trouble between the brothers by needling each one about the other while she sits back and watches the conflict take place.

Alan and Charlie's controlling mother, Evelyn (Holland Taylor), is a hip, wealthy real estate agent in her early-sixties, many-times-divorced, bisexual, and promiscuous. Both Charlie and Alan attribute their life's problems to the dark manipulative force their mother manages to exert upon them even now, adding to the caustic humor of the show in the situations depicting their vain attempts to escape her (with Evelyn often being referred to as 'the devil'). For all of her selfishness, narcissism, and manipulation, Evelyn does love her kids and grandson deep down.

Another recurring theme is the conflict of personalities between the two diametrically opposed siblings: the relaxed, good-life, woman-catching, commitment-phobic Charlie, and the uptight, self-conscious, nerdy Alan. Alan is often jealous of Charlie's lifestyle, and can sometimes try to stop Charlie's decisions. This also provides opportunities for comedy in the show, with Alan, having admitted defeat, making comments such as "It's like talking to a horny chimp," or "It's like trying to talk Shakespeare to a Hershey bar." However, every season has had at least one episode where Charlie and Alan are seriously fighting with each other, although the conflicts are generally resolved by that episode's end.

A great deal of the humor on the show comes from the real-life experiences of creator Chuck Lorre. In a now-famous Entertainment Weekly interview, Holland Taylor said that Lorre was using the memories of his own less-than-great relationship with his mother for the storylines involving Evelyn and Charlie and Alan. Charlie Sheen also said that it was "no accident...that Chuck finally decided to do a show about men. I'll leave it at that."

According to the Season One DVD commentary, Lorre had to overcome roadblocks to get network executives to agree to cast Cryer as Alan. Lorre explained that while Cryer auditioned well for the character, the network was still reluctant to sign him. This may have to do with Cryer's past three failed sitcoms.

In all but two episodes, the title of the episode is usually a quote from the show. The exceptions are the pilot and another episode where the quote in question was part of a deleted scene. (See: List of Two and a Half Men episodes)

The show is also filmed on the same set that '70s sitcom Laverne and Shirley was filmed, after the Laverne and Shirley characters moved to California. The only big changes in the set are a small hallway at the base of the stairs, and the kitchen is slightly larger.

Cast and characters

Main Characters

  • Charlie Sheen as Charles Francis "Charlie" Harper, a hedonistic ladies man, never married (although he once was about to get married to Mia (Emmanuelle Vaugier)), jingle/children's song writer who tends to pick on his younger brother Alan but ultimately loves him. He is the exact opposite of his little brother: relaxed and affluent. He likes his nephew Jake and gives him advice (much of which is not age-appropriate), but the two often trade barbs as well.
  • Jon Cryer as Alan Jerome Harper, Charlie's twice-divorced chiropractor brother, who is constantly stricken with bad luck and is constantly teased by Charlie. After losing his house to first wife Judith after the divorce, he is permanently staying with Charlie. He is a generally nice and polite person but seems to have a weakness for women who treat him badly that stems from the non-nurturing relationship he had with his and Charlie's mom. Alan also claims that when he was young he used to get atomic wedgies from Charlie, and also he was taped to light poles every time he hugged Charlie. Although Jon Cryer plays the part of the younger brother, in real life he is a few months older than Charlie Sheen.
  • Angus T. Jones as Jacob David "Jake" Harper, spends most of his free time playing video games, eating and watching television. He loves his father and uncle but is often surly towards them. Jones does not sing the show's catchy theme song, even though it's a popular belief; in fact, neither do Sheen nor Cryer. The voice Jones is lip-synching is actually that of female singer and voice-over artist Elizabeth Daily.
  • Conchata Ferrell (Season 2–; Recurring in Season 1), as their sarcastic housekeeper Berta. Throughout the series, hints have been made of her being a lesbian, but nothing has been proved. On the contrary, she has hit on Teddy Leopold and occasionally some other men that enter the house. She has a sister named Daisy, played by Camryn Manheim, with whom she doesn't get along. She also has a number of daughters and granddaughters who she herself states are "sleazy and easy" and sometimes brings along to work, with the example of Prudence who is played by Megan Fox.
  • Marin Hinkle as Judith Harper-Melnick, Alan's vindictive first ex-wife. She despises Alan and takes every chance she gets to humiliate him. She was the first woman Alan ever slept with, but their marriage was cold and Alan said that the only time she was ever happy being sexual was when she was pregnant with Jake. Alan often calls out her hypocritical behavior (mostly directed at her disapproval of him having girlfriends around Jake when she has slept with numerous men herself) but also seems to still have feelings for her, going as far as having visions of her and her new husband when he began dating a mutual friend of theirs. It was no secret that she lived a luxurious life on Alan's alimony, going so far as to get breast implants. She has since remarried to Dr. Herb Melnick (Ryan Stiles), Jake's pediatrician, a union that brought joy to Alan because it meant he no longer had to pay her alimony. She still makes Alan pay child support for activities she doesn't want to trouble Herb with.
  • Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper, Charlie and Alan's conceited and self-centered mother, and Jake's grandmother. She isn't very fond of her sons or her grandson but can sometimes care for her grandson and Alan but never Charlie, and the feeling is mutual because of her cold, careless, sarcastic style of parenting/grand-parenting. Her wide-ranging sex life is a recurring gag throughout the series. Charlie constantly (indirectly) implies that she is the devil. For example, he has her phone number on speed dial: "666. Cute, huh?" And when asked if he knew her favorite perfume, Charlie asked a store clerk if she carried "Chanel No. 666" in a similar joke, and even once she showed up in a black cloak and a tool that looked like the grim reapers staff, Alan asked "Who is it?" and charlie replied "It's death", Alan then called out "Hi mom!". Her latest romance had a disastrous ending when her new husband (Teddy) had a heart attack while sleeping with his "stepdaughter," only for the cops to reveal that Teddy was a con artist who had planned to steal all of Evelyn's money and share it with the stepdaughter--who was actually his lover.

Recurring Characters

  • Melanie Lynskey (Starring Seasons 1-2; Recurring Season 3-), as their neighbor Rose, a stalker of Charlie. She has a habit of entering and exiting Charlie's house by climbing onto the patio and has five ferrets, all called Charlie. She has stated that she has a Masters Degree in behavioral psychology and that she has family involved in banking and oil, making them-and implicitly her-wealthy. Rose eventually left town for London, England but has since returned to the U.S. and found new ways to woo/stalk Charlie. Rose's father is played by Charlie Sheen's real-life father, Martin Sheen. She is shown hanging out with Alan occasionally, and they get along very well. They thought about going further in their relationship, but decided to stay friends. Even though she still has feelings for Charlie she can be a little bit nasty-once she created a website all about hating him.
  • Ryan Stiles (Recurring Season 2-), as Dr. Herb Melnick, Judith's new husband and Jake's new stepfather. Though he is married to Judith, he is a laid-back guy and he and Alan seem to get along. Alan is just happy that he no longer has to pay Judith alimony as she simply used it for selfish purposes. An inconsistancy in the story line is the first time he appears, he is named as Greg. A Season 5 episode implied that Herb, though not particularly bright, is remarkably good at cunnilingus.

Former Main Characters

  • April Bowlby (Season Four; Recurring Season 3), as Kandi, Alan's young, deeply dimwitted second ex-wife. After an impromptu wedding in Las Vegas, Kandi divorced him and got their condo, but they continued to have regular booty calls. When she got a role on a CSI-spoofing show, she signed divorce papers so that Alan wouldn't be able to claim her newfound fortune, and has not been seen on the show since then.

Notable Guest Stars

Guest stars so far have included Emmanuelle Vaugier as Mia, Jane Lynch as the therapist Dr. Freeman, Jeri Ryan as Sherri, Martin Sheen as Rose's father, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe as Gail, Cloris Leachman as Norma, Denise Richards as Lisa, Richard Lewis as Stan, Teri Hatcher as Judith's sister Liz, Judy Greer as Myra, Heather Locklear as Laura Lang, Megan Fox as Berta's granddaughter Prudence, Gail O'Grady as Kandi's mother Mandi, Kevin Sorbo as Kandi's father Andy, Josie Davis as Sandy, Robert Wagner as Teddy, Jenny McCarthy as Teddy's daughter, Courtney, Jenna Elfman as Frankie, Camryn Manheim as Daisy, Brooke Shields as Danielle, Katherine LaNasa as Lydia (his latest girlfriend who is a younger version of his mother) and Enrique Iglesias as Fernando the handyman. Sean Penn, Elvis Costello, Harry Dean Stanton and Steven Tyler have all appeared as themselves, among other guests.

As part of a crossover from the writers and executive producer of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, George Eads made a brief cameo appearance on the May 5, 2008 episode.


The show currently has 5 seasons, with a sixth season in production. The show's 100th episode ("City of Great Racks") aired on October 15, 2007. To celebrate this, a casino-inspired party was held at West Hollywood's Pacific Design Center. Warner Brothers Television also distributed blue Micargi Rover bicycles adorned with the Two and a Half Men logo along with the words "100 Episodes." Each bicycle came with a note saying "You've made us very proud. Here's to a long ride together." The cast also gifted the crew with sterling silver key rings from Tiffany & Co. The key rings were attached to small pendants with "100" and Two and a Half Men inscribed on either side of it.

Crossover with CSI

In 2007, Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre contacted CSI: Crime Scene Investigation executive producer Carol Mendelsohn, about a crossover. At first, the idea seemed unlikely to receive approval; however, it resurfaced when Mendelsohn and Lorre were at the World Television Festival in Canada and they decided to get approval and run with it. Even though the casts' eyebrows raised when they heard about the crossover, they all jumped on board. When Mendelsohn was giving a talk, he accidentally mentioned about the crossover, that same day Variety Magazine was already inquiring about the crossover episodes. Mendelsohn later stated: "We're all used to being in control and in charge of our own shows and even though this was a freelance-type situation … there was an expectation and also a desire on all of our parts to really have a true collaboration. You have to give a little. It was sort of a life lesson, I think." "The biggest challenge for us was doing a comedy with a murder in it. Generally our stories are a little lighter," stated Lorre in an interview. "Would our audience go with a dead body in it? There was a moment where it could have gone either way. I think the results were spectacular. It turned out to be a really funny episode." "Fish in a Drawer" was the first part of the crossover to air, on May 5, 2008, and was written by Sarah Goldfinger, Evan Dunsky, Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar. George Eads is the only CSI: Crime Scene Investigation main cast member to make a cameo on Two and a Half Men. Three days later (May 8, 2008) the second part of the crossover, "Two And a Half Deaths" aired, following Gil Grissom (William Peterson) as he investigates the murder of a sitcom diva named Annabelle (Katey Sagal), who was found murdered while she was filming her show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sheen, Cryer and Jones all made cameos in this episode.

Awards and Nominations

The show has received multiple nominations, including 23 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and 2 Golden Globe nominations. Conchata Ferrell and Holland Taylor were both nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series, in 2005 and 2007 (and Taylor again in 2008). Jon Cryer was nominated three times for Outstanding Supporting Actor - Comedy Series (in 2006, 2007 and 2008) and Charlie Sheen was nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor - Comedy Series in 2006, 2007 and 2008, along with two Golden Globe nominations in 2005 and 2006 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy. Picture Editor Joe Bella received two Emmys in the category Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Series, for the episodes "That Special Tug" (2006) and "Release the Dogs" (2007). Martin Sheen was nominated for the Outstanding Guest Actor - Comedy Series Emmy in 2006.

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Two and a Half Men on CBS.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1st Mondays 9:30pm/8c September 22, 2003 May 24, 2004 2003-2004 #15 15.3
2nd Mondays 9:30pm/8c September 20, 2004 May 23, 2005 2004-2005 #11 16.5
3rd Mondays 9:00pm/8c September 19, 2005 May 22, 2006 2005-2006 #17 15.1
4th Mondays 9:00pm/8c September 18, 2006 May 14, 2007 2006-2007 #19 14.4
5th Mondays 9:00pm/8c September 24, 2007 May 19, 2008 2007-2008 #16 13.6
6th Mondays 9:00pm/8c September 22, 2008 May 2009 2008-2009

DVD releases

DVD Name Ep # Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 24 September 11, 2007 September 12, 2005 February 15, 2006
The Complete Second Season 24 January 8, 2008 August 28, 2006 September 6, 2006
The Complete Third Season 24 May 13, 2008 May 19, 2008 July 23, 2008
The Complete Fourth Season 24 September 23, 2008 October 6, 2008 October 8, 2008
The Complete Fifth Season 19 TBA TBA TBA
The Complete Sixth Season TBA TBA TBA TBA

Season 1 Extras

  • Two Adults, One Kid, No Grown-Ups: - behind the scenes with Cast and Crew.
  • Backstage tour with Angus T. Jones/ Jake Harper.
  • Gag Reel/Outtakes.

Season 2 Extras

  • 2½ Days in the Life of 2½: - Viewers are invited for a behind-the-scenes look at a typical day in the life of cast members Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones.
  • The Serious Business of Writing Comedy: - A hilarious look at what it really takes to write a comedy show.
  • Gag Reel.

Season 3 Extras

  • Gag Reel.

Season 4 Extras

  • Scene Access.
  • Two all new Behind the Scenes featurettes.
  • Deleted Scenes.
  • Gag Reel.


  • In the "North by North Quahog" episode of Family Guy, the name of the show is interpreted in a more literal way. Meg and Chris are watching TV when the announcer says "Now back to 'Two and a Half Men'." The commercial then cuts to the show of the Harper brothers standing beside the bisected upper half of a man, and all of them are screaming and the man cut in half screaming "KILL ME!".
  • After Homer purchases a TiVo in the "Funeral for a Fiend" episode of the The Simpsons, Marge says that it only took her "two and a half minutes" to watch "Two and a Half Men" after skipping through all the commercials.
  • In another episode of The Simpsons ("Homer Simpson, This is Your Wife"), Homer's friend Lenny buys a new high definition TV. When Homer is watching a shark on the TV he says, "What a picture. You can see the soulless emptiness in that shark's eyes." The channel changes to "Two and a Half Men" and he says, "Ooh, 'Two and a Half Men.' You can see the soulless emptiness in Charlie Sheen's eyes."
  • This is Charlie Sheen's second sitcom in which his character is also named Charlie (the first one being Spin City).
  • A caricatured version of the characters from Two and a Half Men, called Two and a Half Wits, was placed in MAD Magazine issue #450. The artwork was done by artist Tom Richmond, who, himself, found the show very amusing. The show's creator, Chuck Lorre, was very excited about Two and a Half Men being in MAD Magazine, before the issue was published, he contacted MAD Magazine for the original artwork.


External links

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