The Sunday Review: My Name Is Earl season 1

Sunday 22 October (2006)

my name is earl

My Name Is Earl is the archetypal sitcom: a situation, comedy. The situation in case is the title character’s ‘list’ of every wrong he’s ever commited, and his attempts to right them all. His reason for doing so is a sudden acceptance of the belief of karma – in the first episode he wins $100,000 on a lotto scratchcard, but is then hit by a car and loses the ticket. Whilst recuperating in the hospital (and on morphine, which might be significant) Earl realises that fate has dealt him this blow as a result of his selfish devil-may-care lifestyle, and decides that the only way for his life to work out nicely is to go and fix every bad thing he’s ever done.

This is a nice simple setup for a sitcom, and it’s cleverer than it appears: each episode we get to see, via flashbacks, something absolutely awful (and inherantly funny) that Earl has done, and then the rest of the episode is spent with him figuring out how to fix it. This way the audience isn’t too alienated from the main character, because although he’s been bad in the past, he’s actually trying to sort his life out and go on the straight and narrow.

It does get a bit preachy at times – a bit, ‘do unto others’, but it’s essentially good-hearted and it’s an enjoyable way to spend half an hour.

I don’t really have much more to say than that – it’s been a long week and I need to get to bed, so, there it is.

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