My Name Is Earl
What parents need to know
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.
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?