My Name Is Earl
My Name Is Earl is an American sitcom series created by Greg Garcia that aired on the NBC television network from September 20, 2005, to May 14, 2009, in the United States. It was produced by 20th Century Fox Television and starred Jason Lee as Earl Hickey, the title character. The series also stars Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, and Eddie Steeples.
|My Name Is Earl|
|Created by||Greg Garcia|
|Narrated by||Jason Lee (as Earl Hickey)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||96 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Picture format||1080i (16:9 HDTV)|
|Original release||September 20, 2005– May 14, 2009|
Most episodes from the first season, then only a few from the rest, begin with Earl presenting the premise of the series:
You know the kind of guy who does nothing but bad things and then wonders why his life sucks? Well, that was me. Every time something good happened to me, something bad was always waiting around the corner: karma. That's when I realized that I had to change, so I made a list of everything bad I've ever done and one by one I'm gonna make up for all my mistakes. I'm just trying to be a better person. My name is Earl.
Earl Hickey is a small-time criminal, living in the fictional rural county of Camden, whose winning $100,000 lottery ticket is lost when he is hit by a car while he celebrates his good fortune. Lying in a hospital bed, under the influence of morphine, he develops a belief in the concept of karmic retribution when he hears about karma during an episode of Last Call with Carson Daly in which Daly is interviewing country music star Trace Adkins. Convinced he has to turn his life around to survive, Earl gives himself over to the power of karma. As his first step of a makeshift twelve-step program to fix his misdeeds, Earl makes a list of every bad thing and every person he has wronged and commences efforts to fix them all. After doing a first good deed, he finds the $100,000 lottery ticket that was previously lost. Seeing this as a sign of karma rewarding him for his commitment, Earl uses his newfound wealth to do more good deeds according to his list.
Having divorced from his wife Joy Darville, Earl moves into a motel and lives with his brother Randy, and they meet Catalina, the motel's beautiful maid who illegally immigrated from Mexico. Initially Joy tries to kill or extort Earl for the lottery money, but later gives up. Joy marries Darnell Turner, who works at a local restaurant called the Crab Shack.
After a year of doing good deeds, a major plot-twist occurs in season two. Joy steals a truck from a local "Bargain Bag" supermarket in retaliation for their refusing to process a return for the $3000 home-entertainment system she'd purchased (due to gum being on her receipt), and in so doing, accidentally kidnaps a Bargain Bags employee (who, unbeknownst to Joy, was in the truck's container). She is facing life in prison due to this being her third strike. To soften the jury, she decides to have a surrogate baby for her half-sister Liberty Washington. When things do not go well at her trial, Earl takes the blame for the truck theft and kidnapping to protect Joy's freedom and family and is sentenced to two years in a state penitentiary. Behind bars, Earl is forced to surrender his original list, but continues to do good deeds. He also meets fellow prisoner and friend Frank's girlfriend, Billie.
In an attempt to re-capture an escaped Frank, Earl, his brother Randy, and Frank end up seeing Joy give birth.
Throughout Earl's captivity, the Warden grants more and more time off Earl's sentence for his good deeds. However, the Warden revokes all of this time off on what would be Earl's second-to-last day in prison, realizing that Earl was making him look good by solving so many problems in the prison. However, Earl eventually gains the upper hand and forces the Warden to honor his early release.
After leaving prison, Earl loses his faith in the list; he has spent years and all of his lottery winnings doing good things, but has nothing lasting to show for it, and is insistent that Karma should have given him some kind of lasting reward by now. He reverts to his pre-list ways, doing reckless and bad things until Billie hits him with her car and sends him into a coma. Billie is subsequently hit by a car herself, leaving them both lying in the street. Eventually, Earl wakes up, finds Billie, and marries her, as he believes her to be Karma's reward for his years of effort. However, Earl and Billie argue about his list, and Earl eventually chooses the list over her, sending her into a rampage where she undoes the good things that he has accomplished to that point. However, Billie converts to a "Camdenite" (a parodic sect of the Mennonites) after hiding out in their territory to avoid arrest, and divorces Earl on friendly terms, giving him the settlement money from the person who ran her down in the street because she felt Earl deserved the money, and as a Camdenite, she wouldn't be needing it. Earl uses it to continue doing good deeds on his original list.
As he continues to perform good deeds, Earl's motives initially come across as shallow and selfish – that he is only doing good to improve his karma and by extension his own life. However, Earl begins to develop a genuine sense of morality and principles, refusing to participate in illegal or immoral activities – though sometimes finding himself in very awkward situations, including those involving a suicidal stunt man, a second-hand hot tub that gives his ex-wife Joy a communicable toe disease, a Korean War veteran who wants to reclaim some possessions Earl destroyed (including the ear of a fellow soldier) and a "witch woman" who proves him right in thinking she is evil when she knocks him and many others out and stores them in her basement.
As another plot-twist, Darnell (aka, the Crabman) blows his Witness Protection cover when Joy goes crazy at an audition for a game show entitled ¿Estrada or Nada?. After Joy beats host Erik Estrada in the game show, they go through different covers, eventually stopping at an upper-class lifestyle. Soon, Darnell's father finds his son. It is then revealed that Darnell's name is actually Harry Monroe (although he is still called Darnell or Crabman). As a child, he was a spy in a top-secret espionage agency. Feeling that his job was immoral, he publicly testified against the agency, getting himself placed in the Witness Protection Program. Crabman, his father, and Earl (who must be drugged so he sees nothing) go on a final mission for the agency. After everyone survives a helicopter crash, life goes back to normal.
In many cases, Earl discovers that his crimes and misdemeanors had far more repercussions than he had known, and that complete fixes in those cases would require far more effort than he had first thought when selecting his list item. Yet he would also find that repairs would have deeper and more layered results, bringing the realm of the show into the religious and spiritual as well as comedic.
The series often ended its episodes with a final scene of Earl and Randy conversing in their shared motel room bed at night about a non-important, trivial topic.
- Jason Lee as Earl Hickey, a small-time crook who turns his life around after winning money a lottery scratcher and making a list of wrongs that he plans to make amends for.
- Ethan Suplee as Randy Hickey, Earl's dim-witted brother.
- Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner, Earl's ex-wife who lives in a trailer park. She has two little kids.
- Nadine Velazquez as Catalina Aruca, the maid at the motel that Earl and Randy reside.
- Eddie Steeples as Darnell Turner, a worker at the local restaurant that Earl and the gang frequent. He marries Joy. Earl calls him "Crab Man"
Creator and head writer Greg Garcia wrote the pilot while working on another sitcom, Yes, Dear. He initially pitched the series to Fox which passed on the series. He then approached NBC, which optioned the pilot on a cast-contingent basis, meaning they would order the pilot provided a suitable cast could be assembled. Jason Lee was approached for the lead role, but was uninterested in working in television and passed on the series twice before finally agreeing to read the pilot script. Though he liked the pilot, he was hesitant to commit to his first TV starring role until meeting with Garcia, after which he signed on to play Earl Hickey.
My Name Is Earl is set in fictional Camden County. Creator Greg Garcia says:
|“||The show doesn't technically take place anywhere....we like to think it's anywhere. We don't really say exactly where it is.||”|
In the episode "BB", Earl's driver's license address is at "Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Space C-13, Camden County", but the state is not listed. On the last DVD, in reply to a viewer's question, Greg Garcia admits that Camden County is loosely modeled on Pimmit Hills, Virginia, the neighborhood where he grew up. The actual location in Los Angeles was not a trailer park, but was built up to look like one.
Many of the locations were filmed in San Fernando Valley in California. In the season 1 episode "The Professor", Earl receives a postcard from Alex with the address "Earl Hickey, The Palms Hotel RM 231, 9005 Lincoln Blvd, Camden USA" with Earl's hand covering up most of the postmark. The Palms Motel location is a motel in North Hills, California, now named the Palm Tree Inn Motel. It was also used to film other shows and films such as Gilmore Girls, The Mentalist, and Heroes. Exterior shots of the Crab Shack and Club Chubby were also taken from locations in Van Nuys and North Hills. Houses and shops for the various characters come from locations in Van Nuys, Santa Clarita, Northridge, Moorpark, Los Angeles, and other Southern California cities. In the episode "Didn't Pay Taxes", Earl and Randy climb the landmark Artesia water tower, although they do not refer to it by name.
In the episode "Inside Probe (Part 2)", Earl hints at a general location by saying, "I guess we are in the central time zone".
Other episodes have listed states that were unlikely to have Camden County. In the episode "Equipment Demonstration", officer Stuart Daniels states that the equipment was "supposed to go to Camden, New Jersey, but came here instead". In "Earl and Joy's Anniversary", Crabman, Paddy, Catalina, and Kenny are hiding in a phone booth from bees. When the bees leave the Indian clerk wakes them up and says, "It's all okay. The bees are heading for Texas."
Cancellation and futureEdit
The series ended abruptly on May 19, 2009 after running for four seasons. Season four had ended with the caption 'To Be Continued'. The series' producer, 20th Century Fox Television, approached the Fox, TBS and TNT networks to continue the series, but they were unable to come to terms without "seriously undermining the artistic integrity of the series."
On October 1, 2013, creator Greg Garcia participated in an AMA on reddit.com. Fan Jerry Denton asked "Who was Earl Jr's. real father and did Earl ever finish the list?"
We never really got the chance to fully figure it out but the talk in the writers room was that Earl Jr.'s Dad was going to be someone famous. Like Dave Chappelle or Lil Jon. Someone that came to town on tour and Joy slept with. But when we got canceled we never got the chance to figure it out. I was worried about doing a cliffhanger but I asked NBC if it was safe to do one at the end of the season and they told me it was. I guess it wasn't.
I had always had an ending to Earl and I'm sorry I didn't get the chance to see it happen. You've got a show about a guy with a list so not seeing him finish it is a bummer. But the truth is, he wasn't ever going to finish the list. The basic idea of the ending was that while he was stuck on a really hard list item he was going to start to get frustrated that he was never going to finish it. Then he runs into someone who had a list of their own and Earl was on it. They needed to make up for something bad they had done to Earl. He asks them where they got the idea of making a list and they tell him that someone came to them with a list and that person got the idea from someone else. Earl eventually realizes that his list started a chain reaction of people with lists and that he's finally put more good into the world than bad. So at that point he was going to tear up his list and go live his life. Walk into the sunset a free man. With good karma.
The show was well received by critics and audiences alike. One reviewer speculated that Earl's forthrightness to having led a life of idiocy is what endears him to the viewer, and is what suggests there is a depth to his character beyond what is initially seen. Many of the negative and ambivalent reviews center on what is perceived to be base and bigoted humor.
Some critics claimed the series had a Scientologist bias or message, with actors Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee being Scientologists. In 2008, Alec Baldwin publicly named Earl creator Greg Garcia as being a Scientologist; Garcia quickly denied any involvement with Scientology, claiming that the Daily Mirror had incorrectly reported him to be a Scientologist.
The series was nominated twice for Best International Programme at the British Academy Television Awards in 2007 and 2008. The pilot episode won Emmy awards for Outstanding Writing and Directing in a Comedy Series for Greg Garcia and Marc Buckland respectively at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards. Jaime Pressly won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy series at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Other Emmy nominations include Beau Bridges and Giovanni Ribisi for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||24||September 20, 2005||May 11, 2006|
|2||23||September 21, 2006||May 10, 2007|
|3||22||September 27, 2007||May 15, 2008|
|4||27||September 25, 2008||May 14, 2009|
Season releases overviewEdit
|DVD Name||Release dates||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Region 1||Region 2|
|Season One||September 19, 2006||September 25, 2006||24||The four disc box set includes all 24 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary tracks on selected episodes, selections from the season's gag reel, and a "mini-episode" vignette where Stewie Griffin from Family Guy influences Earl to get revenge on everyone who wronged him.|
|Season Two||September 25, 2007||January 28, 2008||23||The four disc box set includes all 23 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary tracks on selected episodes, as well as other featurettes.|
|Season Three||September 30, 2008||October 20, 2008||22||The four disc box set includes all 22 episodes. Bonus features include a gag reel, "Creating the characters" featurette and deleted scenes.|
|Season Four||September 15, 2009||October 5, 2009||27||The four disc box set includes all 27 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, "Earl's Fan Mail" featurette and a movie trailer inspired by the premiere episode. Also released on Blu-ray|
The series premiered on September 20, 2005, drew in 14.9 million viewers in the United States, earning a 6.6 rating. By the airing of the third episode it was apparent that My Name Is Earl was the highest rated of NBC's new fall offerings, and a full season (22 episodes) was ordered. In its first month, it was also the highest rated new sitcom of the season to air on any network and was the highest rated sitcom on any network in the 18–49-year-old demographic. The show was renewed for a second season (2006–07), a third (2007–08), and a fourth (2008–09).
|Season||Timeslot (EDT)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season||Viewers
|1||Tuesday 9:00 P.M. (September 20 – December 6, 2005)
Thursday 9:00 P.M. (January 5 – May 11, 2006)
|September 20, 2005||
|2||Thursday 8:00 P.M.||September 21, 2006||
|3||September 27, 2007||
|4||September 25, 2008||
20th Century Fox Television has cleared My Name Is Earl in nearly 50% of the U.S., said Bob Cook, the company's president and chief operating officer. 20th had sold the off-net sitcom to the Fox, Tribune, CBS, Hearst-Argyle, and Sinclair station groups for a fall 2009 debut.
My Name Is Earl aired in off-network syndication and on TBS, Ion Television, and MyNetworkTV in the United States, and is currently available on the streaming service Netflix. Canada airs the series on Joytv. The series premiered in January 2006 on Channel 4 in the UK. The fourth and Final season was shown on E4 in January 2009. In 2013, 5* gained the repeat rights to the series.
Adaptation outside the U.S.Edit
A Greek adaptation entitled Με λένε Βαγγέλη (My name is Vangelis), starring Vasilis Charalampoupoulos as Vangelis, Makis Papadimitriou, Klelia Renesi, Anna Dimitrievic and Michalis Afolayan, premiered on November 14, 2011 on Mega Channel.
A Turkish drama featuring a moustached man looking like Jason Lee's character and using the "list" element in the character's search for repentance for past crimes has been airing on Turkish television and in a dubbed format in various Arab channels.
Independent comic book publisher Oni Press had announced a comic book tie-in to the series in 2006, and season one's DVD release included ads for the comic; but none were produced. Since the cancellation of the show, Oni has abandoned the comic.
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- viewer's account of story|date May 2013
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- "Jason Lee on My Name Is Earl Movie: "It's Time!"". E! Online. October 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- "We learn that the items on Earl's list include No. 86, "stole a car from a one-legged girl," and No. 22, "peed in back of cop car." Gosh, what swell episodes those ought to make." Quote by Shales, Tom (September 20, 2005). "Earl Defines What It Takes To Be Sorry". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- "My Name Is Earl is not a stupid sitcom – that is what makes its sexist and homophobic jokes so maddening... Viewers aren't encouraged to laugh at Earl, as much as they are with him – at the people on his list." Citation from Will karma smile on NBC's 'My Name Is Earl'?, Baltimore Sun, by David Zurawik, 20 Sept 2005; text retrieved from AV Science Forum, Feb 2009.
- Donaghy, James (June 29, 2007). "My name is L Ron Hubbard". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
- Gawker article: "Alec Baldwin Doesn't Take Any Shit From Scientologists Archived March 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.."
- Spiegelman, Ian (April 17, 2009). "Greg Garcia Responds to Baldwin: 'I'm Not a Scientologist.'". 'Gawker.com. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009.
- "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 1st Season DVD Information". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 2nd Season DVD Information". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 3rd Season DVD Information". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2009-06-18.
- "My Name Is Earl - Season Three (2009)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
- "(UK) : My Name Is Earl: Season 3 (4 Discs) : DVD – Free Delivery". Play.com. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
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