When Two and a Half Men aired its first episode with Ashton Kutcher (who replaced Charlie Sheen this fall after the latter's well-documented meltdown), a record 28 million viewers tuned in. Five weeks later, the show has shed nearly half that audience, bringing in an average of about 14.2 million, according to E! Online. That's one million below Sheen's average last season. (For his part, Sheen is unsurprised, telling TMZ that he is "extremely disappointed" with the new season.) With viewership sliding — and Kutcher on the receiving end of not-so-flattering press surrounding alleged marriage infidelities — is Kutcher's job in danger?
Kutcher should be a little worried: Don't "expect CBS to cut Two and a Half Men anytime soon," says Andre Tartar at New York. But Kutcher's future could be in doubt. The actor is only signed to a one-year contract. If the ratings continue to fall, "the network may have real reason" to cut ties with Kutcher — especially because he "has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons."
"Two and a Half Men loses half its premiere audience"
Ashton's job is safe and sound: Sure, Two and a Half Men's ratings have been on a slide, says Leslie Gornstein at E! Online. But considering Kutcher's debut on the sitcom scored record ratings, there was nowhere else to go but down. The bottom line is that Men is still the number one comedy on TV, even in the "ever-coveted" 18-49 demographic. "There have been no signs of Kutcher being in trouble with the network — only with his wife."
"Is Two and a Half Men headed six feet under?"
The ratings aren't even that disappointing: Let's put this in perspective, says Lynette Rice at Entertainment Weekly. "The competition should be so lucky to report such 'dips' in the ratings." Even when producing its lowest-rated episode of the season, Two and a Half Men still trounces shows airing on competing networks. There's no ratings freefall, just an expected leveling out. The hype over Sheen's departure and Kutcher's debut "has finally settled down and the ratings are starting to show it."
"Two and a Half Men comes down to earth, Dancing With the Stars trips"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- 10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- For Democrats, the right lesson from 2014 is to be more liberal
- How to live a long life, according to science
- Sorry, we will not all be having sex with robots in the future
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How the brides of ISIS are attracting Western women
Subscribe to the Week