April 3, 2013 at 5:05 PM ET
Quick! Name the most crass comedy on CBS! If you answered Two and a Half Men—well, you have good reason. You can't spend two minutes with Walden (Ashton Kutcher) and Alan (Jon Cryer) without hearing a breast joke, or a penis reference, or a gag about masturbation. Funny, then, that two of today's most high-profile former Disney stars have jumped at the chance to play a guest role.
Back in October, it was 20-year-old Miley Cyrus, whose character (the fast-talking Missi) managed to trade suggestive quips with the guys while wearing a bikini and a slinky teddy. Now it's Hilary Duff's turn. The former Lizzie McGuire actress will appear in the season finale as a love interest for Walden.
Why is Men a draw for these young women? The go-to answer is that they're carefully cultivating a more grown-up image. (Duff—who, after all, is now 25—has already done brief stints on slightly more risque shows, like Gossip Girl and Community.) But that might be giving these actresses (or their agents) a little too much career-planning credit. The truth might be less calculated. When discussing why they wanted to guest on the show, both women gave variations on the same answer: For fun!!!
"So excited to be joining the cast of @TwoHalfMen_CBS this week!" tweeted Duff. "I get to play a crazy drunk girl, funnnn!!!" In the fall, Cyrus said she was "obsessed" with Two and a Half Men and that "it's fun to be here."
Their lack of hesitation might also signal a change in the way that Men is perceived these days, now that the lascivious Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) is six feet under. The show still runs on coarse humor, but it feels a little less…evil. Walden's a womanizer, but unlike Charlie, viewers are probably less inclined to get that sleazy, could-be-a-date-rapist feeling from him. After all, Kutcher's the dumb guy from That 70's Show. He's the clueless kid from Dude, Where's My Car? He doesn't have "goddesses" locked up in a mansion somewhere—as far as we know.
Ironically, Two and a Half Men's ratings haven't regained the towering heights of the Sheen days. But it's held onto a good amount of viewers, and in the end, these actresses will always go for the show that will give them the best possible exposure. "Duff's career will get a huge boost from this guest appearance, and will likely lead to a resurgence of her television career," writes Elizabeth Darrell on Fanshare.com.
From Duff's point of view? Hey, if she gets to have a little fun!!! along the way, all the better.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.