If the rumors are true, Charlie Sheen has finished taping his final episode of Two and a Half Men. While many suspect contractual issues are driving Carlos Irwin Estevez (Sheen’s birth name) away from the hit CBS sitcom, it’s likely that the star’s recent legal, marital, and substance abuse troubles are major factors in his shocking departure.
Despite not being a regular viewer of “Men,” I do believe it’s the best traditional comedy on television. The show thrives because of its slight variation from a simple and effective TV formula (it’s basically The Odd Couple + a fat kid) and because of the believability of Sheen’s role. The former Platoon and Wall Street icon essentially plays his irresponsible, binge-drinking, womanizing self on the program, making his character (who just so happens to also be named Charlie) and the show more genuine than most other modern sitcoms.
America adores Two and a Half Men primarily because Americans love Charlie Sheen (sorry, Angus…you’re not a cute little boy anymore). But what is it that makes this royal fuck-up so damn popular? After reflecting on Sheen’s body of work, the answer became clearer to me. Whether portraying a detained druggie in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a “Wild Thing” in Major League, or corrupt market player Bud Fox in Oliver Stone’s finest work, Sheen is inherently likeable.
We all know Charlie Sheen is flawed. Hell, he has a “sober coach,” accidentally shot actress Kelly Preston, reportedly threatened his current spouse with a knife, and recently woke up to a phone call from OnStar reporting that his car was found in flames at the bottom of a California cliff.
Sheen is so fascinating because all of his memorable characters embody many of his own flaws. Sheen must have taken Gordon Gekko’s legendary “Greed is Good” speech to heart, as he has always lived a life of excess (drugs, women, etc.) that would be considered tragic for most stars. For Sheen, however, this ride has been viewed as normal and strangely acceptable.
We love Charlie Sheen like a crazy cousin, or that fraternity brother who never seems to grow any closer to graduating. He reminds us that the problems in our lives are petty in comparison to the issues this train wreck endures, and somehow always overcomes (with a smile on).
Can Two and a Half Men survive without America’s favorite derelict? Unlikely. Sheen is one-of-a-kind. Not even the introduction of an Uncle Emilio character (Estevez is Sheen’s brother) or Jon Creyer acting twice as flamboyant could help replace this show’s most essential ingredient.
If Sheen decides to walk away, America will miss television’s top leading man. I guess all I can say is “sorry, Charlie.”