12:51pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Two and a Half Men' to Feature 'Gay' Wedding; Chuck Lorre, Jon Cryer Defend 'Scam' Story
Chuck Lorre has a plan to bring CBS' veteran comedy Two and a Half Men full circle, but it certainly isn't without controversy.
The comedy's 12th and final season will see Ashton Kutcher's Walden propose — and marry, according to exec producer Lorre — Jon Cryer's Alan after an existential crisis that propels him to do more with his life and adopt a child.
After the character realizes that it's "very difficult to adopt a child as a single, straight man," to hear CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler tell it, Walden — who is straight — will marry the heterosexual Alan in order to achieve his goals.
"You're going to see two men who are not gay but are going to raise a child with a great deal of love and attention," Lorre told The Hollywood Reporter this week at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "Their sexuality is irrelevant to loving and caring for a child, which maybe that's the big story that we wind up telling: taking a kid out of the system and giving him a home. What's better than that?"
The prolific producer — Lorre also has CBS' The Big Bang Theory, Mom and Mike & Molly on the air — says the adoption story will help bring the show full circle, though he is aware that there's the opportunity to upset the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, with gay marriage not legal in every state and gay adoption still an uphill battle. (Gay marriage is legal in California, where Two and a Half Men takes place.)
"Of course there's going to be a wedding; we're a sitcom, we're going to have a wedding. Walden and Alan are going to get legally married. They have to get legally married to adopt," Lorre says. "People in the other parts of the country will see a show where two men are trying their very best to care and raise a child. How we get there might involve some subterfuge but the storyline is about two men trying to do the right thing."
Co-star Cryer tells THR that the series, to some degree, anticipated that some people would be worried that Two and a Half Men would "cheapen" gay marriage and adoption rights, but that isn't the show's intention.
"Obviously we've cheapened plenty of things over the decade that we've been on the air," Cryer said with a laugh. "But that is something we're not intending to do. We'll see where it goes. I'd love to say, 'It's Two and a Half Men, you know, we're going to do it tastefully.' But that's a tough phrase coming out of my mouth."
Says Lorre: "No offense is intended, and I hope none is taken. We've always been somewhat of an offensive show, so it wouldn't surprise me if this is going to be offending people. We can't go out with dignity, because we've never had any."
Lorre and Cryer both stress that the concept of a marriage of convenience has been explored many times — to comedic effect — before and that this story was a way to take the characters on a journey the audience hasn't seen in the show's previous 11 seasons.
"The fact that it's legal in California — we are going to touch on the fact that it's not legal elsewhere, and we are going to discuss the fact that part of what we're trying to do is something that hasn't been done before: two heterosexual guys getting together because they want to raise a child together," Cryer says. "They are doing this for the right reason, but they're taking advantage of something that was obviously fought for very hard by the LGBT community. I felt like comedically, it was a fun idea. Obviously we don't want to cheapen the struggle that people have been going through."
As part of Walden and Alan's efforts, the openly gay Jenny (played by Amber Tamblyn) will help with the process, though Cryer says she is going to be of two minds about the whole thing, while Lorre says she ultimately will be on board with it. "She's going to help them pull off the scam so that they can get a kid. The goal is so positive. The goal of adoption is a very difficult process, but what you'll see week in and week out is about human beings caring for one another. That's what television does well."
"If they are going to find a young boy and bring him into their house, that changes everything," Lorre explains. "It really brings the show full circle to two men trying to parent a young boy and trying to teach him how to be a man in this world. I love it; it brings us back to two and a half men in a very sweet way because there's a scam involved to adopt. But the intention is to take a child out of the foster system and give him a good home and give him a chance, and I love that. [Co-showrunners] Jim Patterson and Don Reo came to me with this idea, and I thought it was both possibly hilariously funny and really heartwarming, because no matter what kind of nonsense they go through to adopt, the intention is to help a child have a life. What's better than that? What a great way to end the series."