OK Jonny, you requested this review, and having no social life to speak of, I sat down and wrote it. So I just watched the first four episodes of My Name is Earl — again. I have to warn you, this e-mail won’t so much resemble a “Ruthless Review” as it will me giving Jason Lee a reach-around [Ed Note: Hey Slut, sound familiar?] , but it appears that NBC, the network that should have had its FCC license revoked for 10 hell-like seasons of Friends alone, has finally created a show worth watching. No, fuck that — it’s beyond “worth watching” — if you have testicles, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, this better goddamn well be the show you’re watching on Tuesday nights with all the other 18-49 males, as it’s one of the top 10 shows on television, and has the ratings to match.
Jason Lee (from all those Kevin Smith movies) stars as Earl J. Hickey, a redneck of sorts who lives with his lumpy, dopey brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) in a cheap motel. Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), the hot Mexican cleaning lady at the motel, hangs out in their room a lot, but she’s not important. Earl kind of likes her, but Randy called dibs on her when they first met, and as we all know, there is no more unbreakable a bond among men than the sacred ritual of “calling dibs” on a woman. Bros before Hos, and such.
Now, Earl’s life sucks. He is the unshaven ratty-haired chain smoking lowlife that you see buying a forty and a pack of smokes at the gas station at 7:00 am. A quick look at him in his dirty clothes and you can just smell the stench through the TV screen. With no job, he survives by stealing anything he can get his hands on, from CDs to refrigerators — anything not bolted down. As the story goes, one day in a drunken stupor, he went to Vegas and accidentally married a girl named Joy (Jaime Pressly) who it turned out was six months pregnant. Sometime after the marriage, she becomes pregnant again, only to give birth to a child that is obviously not his (little Earl Jr. is black), leaving him responsible for the welfare of two kids that are not relatives. Finally, he scratches a winning $100k lottery ticket, only to be hit by a car and lose the ticket. While in a hospital bed, his wife tricks him into signing the divorce papers and surrendering ownership of their trailer to her, leaving him with no woman, no home, and no money. So yeah, his life sucks, even worse than yours (and if you’re reading my reviews, chances are you’re 21 to 35, single and eating leftover Chinese takeout in your parent’s basement right now). But as the sagacious Earl says, while most people would consider a life like this to be a good reason to stop drinking, he thinks it’s a good reason to keep drinking.
That all begins to change when in the hospital, he catches Carson Daly on TV explaining why he is so successful (what, is he still around?). Carson basically chalks it up karma, saying that what comes around goes around, you have to do good things to have good things happen to you, etc, etc. Then in a scene about as convincing as the hypnotism scene that set up Office Space, Earl rearranges his entire life based on Carson’s advice (could anyone really so highly esteem the advice of someone who amounts to the contemporary, less-interesting, herpes-positive version of Dick Clark?). He compiles a list of almost 300 things he has done wrong to others and sets out to correct them in order to fix his life. Each episode will begin with a minute recapping this set-up and then follow Earl as he chooses one thing from the list and works on it.
If all of Team Ruthless got together and made a collective list of the 300 worst things we have done, we might almost look like normal, decent people next to Earl, whose list includes things like “Stole a car from a one-legged girl,” “Harmed and possibly killed innocent people with second hand smoke,” and “Faked death to break up with a girl.” [Ed Note: Joe Newhard barely knows me; “Wrote check for Psychopsilocybin extract to a deal named ‘Thor’… while on ecstasy but before watching a Girls Gone Wild tape three times in a row and chewing a hole in a blanket”] As he sets out to right each wrong on the list, it starts to improve his life, according to plan. He starts by cleaning up some litter in the motel parking lot to make up for the littering he has done in the past. While cleaning it up, he happens upon his lost winning lottery ticket, and becomes determined to use it to fund his karma crusade. Good things continue to happen to him as he works on the list, and minor deviations from it result in problems that quickly condition him to stick to the list. He is no genius, but no moron either, and continues to find ways to right his wrongs and fix his karma.
Earl, now divorced, cashes that winning lottery ticket, and his wife Joy (Pressly) becomes convinced that half of it is rightfully hers. Remember in Not Another Teen Movie [Ed Note: No] where Jaime Pressly played the role of the typical stuck-up, snobby, popular high school cheerleader? Well, coincidentally she is now playing the typical popular high school cheerleader — 5 years later; a whorish tramp; a brash, no-good bitch, a hillbilly living in a trailer park unemotionally spreading her legs for anything with a pulse from one mechanical sexual encounter [Ed Note: Hi Slut!] to the next…mmmmm cold mechanical sex…. uh, anyway did I mention she is fucking hot and has great legs? Hell, Earl still likes her, and as laid back as he is, he even gets along amicably with her new husband “Crab Man,” the real father of Earl Jr.
I guess it has been settled upon that every time a new comedy sitcom comes out, it will incorporate the use of the “flashback” pioneered by the Simpsons, made popular by Family Guy, copied by Grounded For Life, used as a completely unnecessary framing device in How I Met Your Mother, and now even used by TV dramas like the show Lost. My Name is Earl combines this device with the use of a redneck cast, like in King of the Hill, except it doesn’t suck donkey dick. Generally, rednecks are not cool or interesting in any way, and shows about them only attract the type of people that elected the missing link to the American presidency, but most viewers will find Earl personable, cunning and astute, which is what makes the show work.
Anyway Jonny, as you watch the show, just try to forget about the fact that Jason Lee counts himself among Hollywood’s most delusional as a Scientologist, or that he [CENSORED] your friend, or that he actually named his kid Pilot Inspektor Reisgard Lee. Yeah, celebrities are stupid and give their kids weird names, but at least Jason Lee can act, and that’s more than I can say about 90% of the “actors” Hollywood produces these days. You know ahead of time that each episode will have him ending up on top, but for once it’s the “good guy” that you want to win.