The cracks in CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” have greatly deepened.
After starting the year strong, seemingly putting an end to the notion that Ashton Kutcher could not fill the departed Charlie Sheen’s shoes on the sitcom, “Men” slowly but surely began sinking from its lofty early-season numbers.
Few disputed the unevenness of the season’s early episodes, but as the show started to find a voice and the characters started to click, all seemed to be right with the CBS mainstay.
Then, something happened. Its creative development seemed to be moving in the wrong direction, with the jokes becoming weaker, the characterization becoming shallower and the integration of the beloved supporting characters becoming lesser. Recent episodes based around Kutcher’s character learning he was raised by a gorilla and Alan’s (Jon Cryer) girlfriend Lyndsey (Courtney Thorne-Smith) drinking herself into endless sprees of vomiting and pooping represented creative low points for the series.
And the ratings have followed the creative trajectory. Monday’s episode delivered an all-time low in the fast nationals, attaining just a 3.6 adults 18-49 rating with 11.8 million viewers. Worse, the episode represented only a minor improvement over the Charlie Sheen re-runs that began showing around this time last year.
While hefty competition from “The Voice” (5.4 with 14.8 million last night) is not helping and special competition from the delayed Daytona 500 (at least a 4.5 and 14.2 million for the evening) made things worse and have likely exacerbated the decline, the show’s disappointing performance can also be demonstrated on a relative basis.
Earlier in the night, 8PM staple “How I Met Your Mother” delivered the same 3.6 (with 9.1 million) and newcomer “2 Broke Girls” averaged a 3.7 (with 10.1 million). These shows have also been hit by the stiffer Monday competition, but they are now matching–or beating–the once untouchable “Two and a Half Men.”
“Men” has always been a bigger hit than “Mother,” so the fact that it is now drawing similar ratings is an indication of how it has fallen.
There is no reason to believe CBS is not seriously-considering bringing back “Men” next year–it still delivers great numbers in an era with few shows that do–but there is significant reason to question whether “Men” will warrant being called a powerhouse by next year.
“Mike & Molly” followed “Men” with a 2.9 and 10.1 million.