Thursday, October 6, 2011

Compare and Contrast

            A divorce. A divorce is how it all got started. The American sitcom Two And A Half Men, viewed on CBS and created by Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn, follows the life of two brothers who are practically forced to live together after one of them goes through a divorce. Alan Harper, played by Jon Cryer, is the younger brother of Charlie Harper, played by Charlie Sheen, and after Alan's divorce, he moves in with Charlie for what was supposed to be "a couple days". These two would soon discover how drastically different they were, and that Alan would be there for more than a couple days.
            Alan Harper is not exactly the tallest man you will ever see, as he stands at about five feet nine inches tall, and he is rather skinny. Charlie Harper is a tad bit taller at about five feet ten inches, and is also a rather slender man, with no more or less plumpness than Alan. One will never find Alan Harper without his button-up shirt neatly tucked in to his jeans, unless he is getting ready for bed, whereas Charlie, on the other hand, always sports an untucked shirt, accompanied by a pair of khaki shorts.
            One thing the two brothers always had in common, was the pure hatred of their filthy-rich, realtor mother, Evelyn Harper. Since childhood she never really had been there for the two of them, as she was always caught up in her newest romance (she is far past a number reasonable to be considered the number of husbands one has had). Although the two dislike their selfish, conceited mother equally, the way Charlie interacts is a bit more condescending than the way Allan interacts with her. Charlie constantly complains whenever Evelyn shows up at Charlie's Malibu beach house unannounced, whereas Alan shows a more positive feeling when she arrives. Charlie continuously refers to their mother as "death", 'the devil", and "the unholy mother of us", and her speed dial number in his phone is 666.  Alan made the most of every visit, and was never afraid to offer his services to their mother.
            Before Alan moved in with Charlie at his beach house, he lived with his wife Judith, not far from the location of Charlie's house. Judith and Alan had a son, Jake, and to Alan, Jake was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. Even when Jake struggled in school, as he did quite often, Alan would usually support him in any way possible in order for him to pass and move up to the next grade. After Judith and Alan divorced, Jake and Alan moved in with Charlie. Charlie never had been the type who enjoyed being around kids, as he would much rather spend his time sleeping with any woman he could find. The concept of settling into a relationship never really settled well with Charlie. He almost married a couple times, once to a ballet teacher named Mia and again to a former one night stand named Chelsea, but he never made it all the way through; his old ways of drinking, gambling, and sleeping with any woman he could find always found a way to recapture his mind.
            Another thing Alan understood better than Charlie was the concept of having a good work ethic and determination. Charlie wrote commercial jingles for a living, whereas Alan worked as a chiropractor. On the one hand, Alan endured long, tough years of medical school in order to be successful enough to have the opportunity to open his own chiropractic business, and Charlie, on the other hand, kept to the motto of "something will turn up". At one point when chiropractic business was rather slow, Alan could not keep up with the cost of alimony, and run his chiropractic business at the same time with the little money he had. So rather than following Charlie's carefree motto of "something will turn up", Alan looked for a side job; looked for anything that could put that little amount of cash he needed to stay afloat. In the end, he ultimately had to turn to being a "lab rat" for some new medication some doctors had created. He endured hair loss and seizures, but earned enough money to keep his business running long enough, and to continue paying alimony until Judith (finally) remarried.
            When a man and women engage in a relationship, the man's parents will nearly always tell him to be a gentleman and treat her like a lady. With these two brothers, one follows the advice, whereas the other disregards it completely, and I'm sure you can guess which one follows it. Alan never was the best at making a relationship last, but he always tried. He always gave everything he had, tried his best to make it work; all or nothing. He would take them out to a nice dinner (as nice as he could afford on his low income) and never proceeded to take advantage of them. Charlie, however, never was one who would ask a girl out to dinner. He preferred heading to the bar late at nights, finding a girl who's thoughts consisted nothing but the "need" for more alcohol or something else to take their mind off the "need" for alcohol, and bringing them home for a "sleepover", as Alan often described it to the young, unknowing Jake.
            Even though Charlie lived in a beach house in Malibu, and was a lot wealthier than his younger brother, Alan had a better life than Charlie.  Sure Charlie got more girls than him and it appeared as if he had a better life, but Alan was the true man of these two brothers. In an article I once read called "Americanization Is Tough On Macho", the author, Rose Del Castillo Guilbault, explains the "real" definition of the term macho as "responsible" and "hard working", yet Americans have transformed it into a word referring to a man who is "selfish" and "sexually promiscuous". Charlie represents an Americanized macho man, while Alan is, without a doubt, a real macho man.

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