For the first eight seasons of “Two and a Half Men,” the series was all about Charlie Harper and his sexual exploits. But when Charlie Sheen had his meltdown in Feb. 2011 and was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, producers decided to reexamine the direction of the show. And it started off with doing the exact opposite.
The man who was at the center of many of Sheen’s barbs, EP Chuck Lorre, explains to a packed house at PaleyFest that the show matured during its reinvention.
“I think we’ve outgrown the date of the week series. It’s no longer the bimbo of the week. We’ve long since outgrown that,” Lorre says. “I think it’s a more relationship-oriented show…It’s more mature. It’s not childish relationships. It’s adult relationships.”
Lee Aronsohn, one of the show’s other EPs, explains that getting to this point started with figuring out what Walden Schmidt was and what he wasn’t.
“We knew from the get go that we didn’t want him to be a womanizer,” Aronsohn says. “We knew we wanted to bring a little bit of innocence to the show that…disappeared for a while.”
This new approach has become very obvious to viewers of the high-rated comedy. It starts with Schmidt’s relatively steady relationship with Zoey (Sophie Winkleman). At the same time Alan (Jon Cryer) is back together with Lyndsey (Courtney Thorne-Smith).
But this road to renewal hasn’t been easy. Lorre admits there have been some missteps creating Kutcher’s character and integrating him into the show.
“The stumbles early on were just trying to find the tone for his character,” Lorre notes. “We wanted there to be an innocence and a certain vulnerability. There were times when we may have gone too far.”
But Lorre is confident that the pieces are now in the right place now. He says, “We’ve kind of hit our stride.”
The only item to be resolved now is getting Kutcher to sign on for a second season. Otherwise it’s back to the drawing board from Lorre and Aronsohn.