My Name Is Earl is an American television comedy series created by Greg Garcia that was originally broadcast 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 the title character.
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 round 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.”
The series stars Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Eddie Steeples and Nadine Velazquez (Lee and Suplee had also worked together on the film “Mallrats” more than ten years prior). Earl J. Hickey (Lee) is a petty criminal and ne’er-do-well, 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. 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.
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 ethics, 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.
In many cases, Earl discovers that his crimes and misdemeanors had far more repercussions than he could have imagined, and that complete fixes in those cases would require far more trial and effort than could have been imagined. Yet he would also find that repairs would also have deeper and more layered results as well, bringing the realm of the show into the religious and spiritual as well as comedic.
The series generally ended its episodes with Earl and Randy talking about things that have nothing to do with the rest of the show before saying good night and turning in for a night’s sleep. In many cases, these conversations took place in their shared motel room bed.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: