My Name Is Earl
By Elliot Panek,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Offbeat, heartfelt comedy, but not for young kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Amid its often politically incorrect humor, the show's central message is about making amends and earning forgiveness. Some of that is accomplished in less-than-mainstream ways, and the characters don't always do exactly the right thing, but ultimately Earl learns not to judge others, and others forgive him.
Positive Role Models
The characters are a motley bunch who mostly mean well but often make mistakes, some with negative consequences. Earl is committed to righting past wrongs, but he sometimes strays from his path. Joy comes off as a sharp-tongued shrew, but even she has a softer side when push comes to shove. Plenty of humor at others' expense.
Violence & Scariness
Some slapstick, unrealistic violence -- punching, gunfire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing, references to infidelity. Some skimpy outfits, couples shown in bed together in various states of undress (nothing explicit). Plenty of talk about Joy's breasts.
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Fairly frequent use of words like "damn," "hell," and "son of a bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol, smoking, sometimes portrayed in a negative light. Characters sometimes get drunk. Occasional drug references. Many scenes take place at a restaurant's bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sitcom contains jokes about sexuality, intoxication, lack of education, and religion. The program revels in its political incorrectness, using a one-legged woman and a gay character for quick laughs, but redeems its main character and itself by having him learn a lesson about not judging others and searching for forgiveness for past wrongs.
Where to Watch
Based on 8 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
After winning the lottery, redneck bully/thief Earl (Jason Lee) suffers a series of unfortunate events. He loses his winning ticket, gets hit by a car, and his wife makes him sign divorce papers while he's in a full body cast. Then, while watching TV, Earl sees Carson Daly discussing karma and has an epiphany: His own bad luck could turn into good luck if he made amends with the people he hurt. So Earl creates a list of all the bad things he has done to others; each episode chronicles his attempt to cross one entry off the list by setting things right. In the process, he confronts his own biases, ending each episode with a heartwarming conclusion.
Is It Any Good?
Like so many other modern TV comedies (the fast-paced, funny Scrubs comes to mind), MY NAME IS EARL does away with sitcom conventions like studio settings and canned laughter, providing a voice-over from the main character to guide viewers. The humor is fairly broad -- some gross-out gags, a bit of slapstick violence, and plenty of jokes about how dumb some people can be. If anything sets this show apart, it's the premise, and Lee's appealingly affable turn as the dumb-but-good-natured Earl.
While Earl may be a moral individual, the show possesses a very simple view of morality, preaching forgiveness while cutting through the sap with another politically incorrect joke. Still, since the show is generally able to maintain its steady stream of laughs, it's worth watching for teens and their parents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about forgiveness. Do Earl's good deeds warrant forgiveness from his victims?
Although it's clearly a comedy, the show does take the idea of karma and morality seriously. How can these concepts be applied to our everyday actions?
- Premiere date: September 20, 2005
- Cast: Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Jason Lee
- Networks: NBC, Syndicated
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Award: Emmy
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
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