A consistent ratings juggernaut for much of the last decade, there was little doubt that CBS's Two and a Half Men would be see a full-season renewal for the fall of 2013. However, speculation has run rampant as to whether former child-actor Angus T. Jones (The Rookie) would return to show with leads Ashton Kutcher (Jobs) and Jon Cryer (Due Date).
Let said speculating end, as it looks as if Jones has opted not to return as a regular cast member. Reports indicate that he may occasionally appear as a guest star, but Two and a Half Men will soon be lacking its "half" more often than not.
CBS confirmed via Twitter that Two and a Half Men has been renewed for season 11, which is set to air this fall. The network also announced that Angus T. Jones has decided to leave full-time employment with the show to pursue a college degree – a move that he has put off due to his obligation to the series. Jones is currently in negotiations to appear in a number of guest spots.
There is no doubt that Jones' decision was affected by the November release of a video featuring his religious testimony, in which he decried Two and a Half Men as "filth." Despite a public apology to his co-workers, many wondered whether his time with the series was running short.
This is, of course, not the first time that Two and a Half Men has experienced the controversial departure of one of its leads. In 2011, Charlie Sheen was dismissed from the series after a vicious dispute with creator Chuck Lorre (The Big Bang Theory). Sheen subsequently embarked on a series of highly-publicized meltdowns that have resulted in the actor becoming something of a cultural punchline (see his turn in Scary Movie 5). Kutcher was afterward brought in to replace Sheen in the show's lead role.
Having already reconfigured itself more-or-less successfully after the sudden departure of its lead, Two and a Half Men will no doubt soldier on without Jones. Before his absence was confirmed, rumors began circulating that Miley Cyrus might take his place as a cast regular. Plans to retool the show have no doubt been in place for months, just in case Jones finally decided to abandon ship.
Despite this, one has to wonder whether the cast and crew of Two and a Half Men should start readying to close up shop. With two of its original leads gone, the dynamic of the show will probably be all but alien to longtime viewers. At this point in its life-cycle, a sitcom needs to either reinvent itself drastically or fade into late-season obscurity. Can the writers and producers of Two and a Half Men spin Jones' departure into a successful revival? Only the fall premiere will tell.
Two and a Half Men will continue to appear on CBS on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.