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Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Name is Earl

I think the most subversive show on television this year is "My Name is Earl." It's about a working class schmoe who didn't do a lot right with his life until one day he won the lottery and got hit my a car. While in the hospital, he hears Carson Daly describe karma and takes it to heart. So now he's going back and fixing all the things he can think of that he did bad. Funny thing is, karma is treating him well in return. He does good, good things come to him. He does bad, bad things happen to him. Every time.

So here's this little sit-com with a very simple message from a decidedly non-Judeo-Christian perspective, with the main characters being an everyman who is literally trailer trash who has upgraded to living in a crappy motel. Week after week, it's suggesting you don't need to be Christian to have moral values or go to church every Sunday to be a good person and know right from wrong. And then there's his ex-wife, who demonstrates every week what happens when you behave badly. It's this quaint little morality tale, with a wry sense of humor, and no Jesus anywhere. And there's nothing to it that the religious-right can get testy about (no witches or other mystical entities). Just morality served up hot and fresh, free of all that pesky monotheism. It's subversive, and I like it.


  • Sounds neat. When is it on?

    By Blogger Chris S, at 10:19 AM  

  • I have been watching regularly. Though let us be clear. The notion of Karuma was never intended to include any inter-lifetime effects.

    Your next incarnation was a result of your actions of your previous life.

    The westernization of this idea is part of the joke. I realize that. But let's be clear that Earl's version of Karma is westernized and as close to Karuma in its original conception as a fisher-price oven is to a gas range.

    By Blogger mice, at 1:28 PM  

  • Like it? I love it. It amuses me greatly, and Jason Lee makes that silly mustache thing look cute. Yep, I'm a sucker.

    By Blogger BlackSheep, at 10:49 PM  

  • mice: I think you meant "intra-lifetime" above.

    And we can blame John Lennon for popularizing the concept which made this show possible. Damn you, Lennon! Even from beyond the grave, you influence popular culture! Let someone else have a freakin' turn, fer pity's sake!

    By Blogger CKL, at 8:33 AM  

  • On similar note, caught one episode of Ghost Whisperer. Women who talks with spirits and helps them right thing so they can pass on to afterlife. Ugh. If that episode is any indication, it's heavy on the Christianity. Which in the general sense of 'love thy neighbor', I'm all for, but they were going places with the politics and implications that *I* wasn't happy with and you would be even less so.

    By Blogger Chris S, at 10:29 AM  

  • Interestingly, Jesus is probably mentioned more often in this series than in any other show on television, although not always in a reverent way. Remember the tattoo on that ex-con's chest?

    By Blogger Barb'ra B. Dunnem, at 2:55 PM  

  • I have watched the first season on DVD, and I think this is one of the most implicitly Christian shows on TV. Earl is pastoral. He is connected to a spiritual reality that he catechizes to those he shepherds. Not only is Earl trying to live a better life, he is affecting others toward the same motive.

    By Blogger Michael Todd, at 10:55 PM  

  • I found this post because my minister asked me about doing a sermon on religion and Earl. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it really has had an effect on me spiritually, partially because I was NE Philly white trash, so it really hits home.

    I let my kids watch Earl, and my wife always seem to come in as Joy says something special.

    By Blogger pmisner, at 9:52 AM  

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