If somebody were to tell you that My Name is Earl was a show about dim- witted people doing crazy things, well, they wouldn't exactly be wrong. But it isn't the whole truth, either. When you make a show that centres around dim-witted people in a small town doing crazy things to pass the time, the general conclusion people would jump to would be that the show would be cliché and stupid. Who could blame them, that always appears to be the case. But My Name is Earl isn't only not stupid and cliché, it is absolutely brilliant, charming, genuinely hilarious, and loaded with twists and turns worthy of M. Night Shyamalan himself. Nothing is ever what it seems, and just when you think everything turned out peachy, a bigger, much more dastardly problem arises for our fiend-turned-friend.
The premise of My Name is Earl is a show that takes place in the small town of Camden County from the perspective of a petty con artist, Earl J. Hickey, who finds himself in an accident after winning a hundred thousand dollars in a lottery. Waking up in a hospital, he reflects on his life and comes to an epiphany; in a word, Karma. Realizing that his life is terrible due to him being a generally terrible person, Earl plans to turn his life around and writes a list of all the bad things that he's ever done, ranging from little things like bullying some kids in his days in school, to huge, punishable-by-law crimes, and hopes to make up for it along the way.
It's a simple premise, but one that is full of possibilities, and Greg Garcia never ceases to surprise the audience through the course of the series. Mix the chaos that ensues with a never ending stream of colourful, charismatic, and most importantly, likable characters, and you've definitely got something. All the characters in My Name is Earl are hardly forgettable, and each of them have an interesting twist on classic clichés that let them shine with originality despite having a certain deliberate lack thereof. Even the least likable of characters, the ones whom the cast want you to hate, have an incredibly human side to them that you will soon discover as you watch the show that will make them carve a special place in your heart.
It also goes well with the acting, which, while it sadly won't win any Oscars (the acting is purposefully lack-luster), has a certain childish charm that really brings out the character in an almost theatrical light that will connect you with the stage that is Camden County as a theatre production may connect you with the characters of Shakespeare's work at a live performance. Jaime Pressly, for example, shines as an over-the- top, selfish, heartless "dumb blonde" that is Joy Turner, but there are more than enough times when with that same childish nature of the casts acting she shows a surprisingly massive level of depth beneath her otherwise paper-thin character, partly due to the sharp writing and character design, partly because of her enthusiasm for the role, and with it, takes the stage every time she makes an appearance in each episode. Each character in the cast is equally "shallow-deep" and likable, coating their enthusiastic role playing with a childlike nature that makes this show have you feeling young at heart, even if the humour can be a little... mature at times.
In addition to the unbelievable plot twist with each episode, the writing is sharp, witty, simplistic, straight to the point, and a little playful as well. Despite having an excellent sense of humour, My Name is Earl tends to have a few vulgar jokes in it, as well. But unlike a majority of the jokes in the later episodes of Family Guy and shows alike, no matter how vulgar it gets, it tends to be somehow tasteful, and never feels out of place, save for one or two per season. Even though most of the show seems to be a situational comedy which focuses mostly on events rather than the words being said, when Earl, himself, begins narrating and tries to make sense of the impossible events that occur to the best of his abilities, or when his loyal brother Randy interjects into a conversation with a ridiculous statement, hilarity is guaranteed.
My Name is Earl is, without a doubt, among the funniest and full of heart shows to ever air on TV, anywhere, and you'd truly be missing out by skipping this one. It's truly a shame that where other dime-a-dozen TV shows continue to overstay their welcome, My Name is Earl hardly had the chance to wipe their feet at the door before bidding "goodbye."
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