You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Dumb ‘2 1/2 Men’ Story You’ll Read Tuesday

As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher.

This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons.

ASHTON-KUTCHER-TWO-AND-A-HALF-MEN For starters, the 28.7 million people who watched the premiere was a wildly inflated number — about double the show’s average tune-in last season — thanks to all the publicity surrounding Charlie Sheen’s much-publicized meltdown. Many millions of those people are essentially looky-loos — folks who just wanted to see how they killed off the character, rather morbidly, so they could be part of the conversation. They wouldn’t have gone back if Jesus and three apostles had replaced him.

In addition, the next episode will go up against Fox’s much-ballyhooed premiere of “Terra Nova,” which could very well open at the best number that show’s ever going to do. Throw in “Monday Night Football” and “Dancing With the Stars,” and there are plenty of TV options for the uncommitted, along with simply tuning out entirely.

Nobody — including CBS — expected “Men” to surpass what the show was doing with Sheen on a regular basis throughout the season. The game was to engineer the change, stay within hailing distance of last season’s performance and thus keep the linchpin of the network’s Monday lineup solvent.

Frankly, I have no idea what the audience for part two of the premiere will look like. But it’s pretty clear we won’t really be able to gauge how well “Men” has weathered the transition — and whether the audience is buying Kutcher in the role — until the show has four or five episodes under its belt, roughly around mid-October.

None of which will stop some over-eager — or simply under-informed — journalistic types from trying to leap to conclusions bright and early Tuesday morning, based on the decline. After all, the pressure to draw some kind of cultural conclusions based on premiere week has already produced appropriately guarded suggestions in major newspapers that comedy is back and specifically, sitcoms featuring women.

While I’d love to be surprised about “Men,” at least it’s appropriate: Given the show’s fondness for sex jokes, it’s the perfect candidate for a premature exclamation.

 

More Voices

  • Hollywood Safe Workplace

    Why Hollywood Needs to Lead the Way in Showing How to Create a Safer Workplace

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Column: Documentarian Barry Avrich Ponders Whether Harvey Weinstein Will Be Convicted

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

  • Janet Mock Pose

    'Pose' Writer Janet Mock on Making History With Trans Storytelling (Guest Column)

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

  • Tony Awards Sightlines Column

    How to Produce the Tony Awards: 5 Unsolicited Tips

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

  • Under the Silver Lake

    Cannes 2018's Hidden Thrill: The Opportunity to Find New Voices

    As sure as the sun sets and rises, someone will look at Monday night’s ratings for “Two and a Half Men,” compare the second episode’s audience to the first, and conclude that however many million people have “rejected” Ashton Kutcher. This is dunderheaded, for a number of reasons. For starters, the 28.7 million people who […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content