Two And A Half Men Creator Chuck Lorre Shares Thoughts On Being Able To Watch The Show Again Years After Charlie Sheen Drama

When it comes to sitcom controversies, it’s hard to think of a more suitable and unique example than the latter years of Two and a Half Men’s twelve-season run on CBS, largely as they relate to the ousted star Charlie Sheen, his stints in rehab, his firing, and his public responses to it all. But as hectic as it all was at the time, we’re now more than eleven years beyond Sheen’s erratic exit, which has helped to give the sitcom’s creator Chuck Lorre enough time and distance to feel comfortable watching the show again without the negative memories and emotions of that clash.

Following the glut of major cancellations and noteworthy TV finales, Chuck Lorre spoke with Variety about his lengthy and successful career on the small screen, and after he brought up rewatching older episodes of Two and a Half Men, the Big Bang Theory creator was asked if all things Charlie Sheen played into how he currently feels about the show as a whole. Admitting there was a point when it wouldn’t have been enjoyable, Lorre said:

It is really gratifying that what we made still works on some level. Time has passed and the episodes with Charlie are a joy to watch. There were a couple of years there where I couldn’t watch it. It was too hurtful. I can enjoy them all now. You know, he did a brilliant job. And the chemistry between him and Jon [Cryer] and Angus and Holland Taylor and, oh my goodness, Conchata Ferrell, who has passed away. It was a beautiful cast.

Thankfully, Chuck Lorre has been able to get around the more uncomfortable and negative emotions in order to still view Two and a Half Men from a more objective perspective. It’ll likely be impossible to completely remove all Sheen-related memories from the creator’s brain, but so long as he feels okay about taking in reruns from the earlier seasons, good on him. I know I have a couple of far more dumpy jobs from my own early life that I don’t like to think of due to troublesome co-workers, so I can imagine it takes some mental tap-dancing to get to a more content place. 

Clearly the work stands for itself with or without Charlie Sheen’s personal life mucking things up. After all, the show’s fanbase hasn’t exactly dissipated, with reruns available to stream with a Peacock subscription, and that’s in part to how the cast works as a full ensemble, as opposed to everything relying just on Sheen’s performances. Nobody can deny Jon Cryer’s talents, nor that of the late Chonchata Ferrell and others, so someone who might not be aware of Sheen’s issues over the years wouldn’t be taken out of the narrative at all.

Given that the show debuted back in 2003, and that Chuck Lorre has created or helped develop roughly 1,000 TV series in the meantime, it tracks that he wouldn’t have every single episode’s story beats committed to memory. And he reflected on that notion by saying his and the creative team’s goal was to create a show that stood the test of time, as opposed to a flash in the pan. In his words:

I love that the body of work is sustainable. I didn’t set out to make Kleenex. We all set out to make silk hankies that you can wash and use again. And I love that, every once in a while, I will watch a Two and a Half Men rerun when Angus [T. Jones] was really little, and there was stuff I’d completely forgotten.

For his part, Charlie Sheen hasn't exactly been quite as cool and calculated over the years when it comes to everything that went down on Two and a Half Men, and I doubt we'll be seeing him co-starring with Ashton Kutcher anytime soon. (Even though Jon Cryer has a fantastic idea for a reunion project with Sheen that seems super-timely.) In 2021, he seemed to offer up some regret over how he handled things, shedding a negative light on his "#Winning" approach. But only a few years earlier in 2017, he shared some particularly rabid thoughts about Chuck Lorre, calling him “the most talentless fucking sack of shit of fucking stupid this side of La Brea.” So it’s obviously hard to know where his head is at now.

As much as fans might want to see more from the Two and a Half Men-verse, it's safe to say we'd all be better off just watching already existing eps. But it does look like Jon Cryer has another network comedy on the horizon, as he's been tapped to star in a pilot created by Heels' Mick O'Malley. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.