Charlie Sheen isn’t even on “Two and a Half Men” anymore, but his legacy continues— his legacy of womanizing, that is. I am referring to the newest “Two” character, played by Amber Tamblyn, Charlie Harper’s daughter who — wait for it — is also a womanizer.
Sure, it’s a sign of progress that an actress will play a lesbian on one of the country’s most mainstream of mainstream of shows. (Although I’m scratching my head as to why Tamblyn, who acts in abortion rights PSAs and edits the poetry section of BUST magazine, would join the cast.) But it’s just a little bit frustrating that as Charlie Harper’s kid, Tamblyn’s character Jenny is basically serving as a female stand-in for her womanizing father. There was a hole for a tomcat and they plugged it up with a lesbian character.
Showrunner Jim Patterson explained Jenny to Entertainment Weekly: “She’s a fun, hard-partying girl who loves everything her father did — including women — and has the same kind of confidence her father had. It brings the debauchery back to the show from when Charlie [Sheen] was on it. She’s going to turn their lives upside down a little bit.” [He is referring to cast members Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher; the “half man,” Angus T. Jones, left the cast after a very public fuck-you video last year in which he called the show “filth.”]
In a separate interview, Tamblyn described her character thusly: “There’s definitely a lot of Charlie Harper in the character I’m playing. She’s the modern gay Katharine Hepburn with a sailor’s mouth. Her liver is its own superhero.”
That’s all well and good. But take a closer look to how Patterson responded when asked by EW if, through Jenny, “Two” will explore any gay rights issues: “She’s proud of who she is and completely confident in who she is. She’s also looking to have fun. She’s a 25 and not looking to settle down in any way.”
Is that a non-answer or is that a non-answer? No one expects “Two” to become “Glee,” but when a mainstream show adds a character who is a minority representation, they have a responsibility in their portrayal. Being “proud” and “confident” of one’s identity may be a net positive for any LGBTQ character on TV, of course, and I am certainly not suggesting that every gay character is required to provide an afterschool special style teachable moment about gayness. But there’s so much possibility for Jenny to be more than just another tomcat who happens to have a vagina between her legs. For now I remain skeptical.
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[Image via Entertainment Weekly]