My Name Is Earl

Common Sense Media says

Offbeat, heartfelt comedy, but not for young kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


Some slapstick, unrealistic violence -- punching, gunfire.


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.


Fairly frequent use of words like "damn," "hell," and "son of a bitch."

Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Jason Lee
Networks:NBC, Syndicated
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of My Name Is Earl was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old July 30, 2011

Amazing show with some explaining to kids

This is one of my favorite shows. There is violence mostly comical and cartoonish like chairs being wacked over heads. There is alot of sexual refernce seeing as one of earls children is a love child. There is also a day time hooker named patty who apears freaquintly and most times she is there there is a sexual refernce (usauly somthing kinky). They have a best friend who is a striper at a crazy, rich mans club so there are often stories about her job. They drink almost every episode not often is it heavy, but it does happen. The role models are good when it's not showing you things from earls (main characters past) he pretty much went from a no good thief who would steal when ever he got the chance to a true good guy. The language isn't that bad it's usualy when joy (earls ex-wife) makes fun of randy (earls slow brother).
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byTnMovieFan2 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Adult Written byCrazy Chel April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Good Goal, Bad Surroundings

Poor Earl just wants to make the world a better place. Little by little he works to fix his past mistakes and help others have a better life. While his intentions are good his actions, and those of people around him, are not always the best. Each episode has a clear message but there is enough violence (thanks to his ex-wife) and questionable content to make a parent pause before allowing anyone under 14 to watch.


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