‘I’VE got two kids, 19 and 22, and they still live at home. And I want them there. Because if they leave it’ll just be me and my husband. And when I think about that, I taste a bit of sick.”
I’ve heard Melbourne comedian Christine Basil deliver that brilliant line a dozen times and the audience reaction is always the same: immediate, hysterical and involuntary. Before people have time to remind themselves they’re sitting next to their spouse. Before people have time to quash their unacknowledged feeling, they realise their spouse is laughing as hard, fast and involuntarily as they are. The hidden truth being exhumed and reburied is cathartic.
The first thing you notice about Two and a Half Men is the laugh track. Hard, fast and involuntarily. That laugh you have when a primitive button deep inside is pressed that reveals something we try to hide to everyone, including ourselves. The laugh track encourages people to join in, not to feel alone. The second thing you notice is Two and a Half Men is on every weeknight and three times on Tuesday nights. The fact this phenomenon sucks in up to half a million Melburnians a night made it worthy of an investigation.
Two and a Half Men is the perfect title. Because there are no women in it. Sure, there are beauty queens, fat ladies, mean mothers, pushy bitches, ex-wives, bunny boilers, dumb blondes and whores. But no female characters, just caricatures. No women. Just slaves, trophies and bitches. I’ve used that line before. Once. I used it to describe The Footy Show’s treatment of women.
But the similarities do not end there. Two and a Half Men is also a morally bankrupt orgy of chauvinism and media-sanctioned misogyny. Both shows are on Channel Nine. The show is a vehicle for a chauvinist creep who sees women only as potential conquests, stalkers waiting to happen, clingy nesters, conniving, demanding or insane.
He’s surrounded by people covertly enabling his behaviour of undermining and devaluing women by rolling their eyes and saying things like ”Oh, Sam” – I mean ”Oh, Charlie”. Just like the viewers.
Charlie’s not a ladies’ man, a Casanova or a playboy. He’s a woman-hating sexual predator. The other 1½ men who live in the house are Charlie’s uptight, ”pussy-whipped” brother, Alan, and Alan’s 11-year-old annoying brat, Jake. The ”men” have a fat sexless housekeeper, psychotic exes, a neurotic mother and a stream of madonnas and whores. And that’s all the show’s about.
Sure, technically it’s a comedy. Doesn’t mean it’s funny. Doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly dangerous as it administers the pill in the dog food to more than a million Australians every night. Immunising as many as possible against the potentially devastating infection of valuing women as individuals for their worth. Relentlessly sexually objectifying, devaluing, undermining, dehumanising or demonising them. Sure, you can’t immunise everyone but you can create herd immunity: the vaccination of a significant percentage of a herd to make a chain of infection (the infection being treating women with dignity, equality and respect) almost impossible.
I kept watching to unlock the mystery of how this ugly, mean manipulative show is not only on telly but on telly seven times a week. I’m sure if you swallow the internal logic it all makes sense. It made me sick.
Two and a Half Men is bought to you by The Brotherhood of F—ed Up Arseholes. Laugh cos it’s funny. Funny cos it’s true. True that it’s sad. Sad that alcohol comes with advice to drink responsibly, cigarettes with a warning of health implications but Two and a Half Men is the drink the date-rape drug is slipped into.
I’m not blaming men. I am exposing anyone who supports this show. The sexism is so insidious it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to consider it a human rights abuse.
Gotta go. Need to sort out my frock and fascinator for tomorrow. Oaks Day. Ladies Day.