My Name is Earl premiered on September 20, 2005 drawing 14.9 million viewers in the United States, and quickly became a hit, especially in the much-desired 18 to 49-year-old demographic. The show was so popular a full 22 episodes were quickly ordered. The show ran on NBC until May 19, 2009 when the fourth season ended with the caption, “To Be Continued.” Although the show continued to be popular, NBC cancelled it. There was talk of another network picking up the show, but nothing came of the discussions.
The premise of the show had the star creating a list of all the people to whom he needed to make amends. Every week he worked his list with hilarious results.
Although the show was not set in any particular location of the country, the characters had noticeable southern accents. Often hanging out at the local Crab Shack bar, Earl Hickey had spent sometime in jail and often ran afoul of the law. The opening show would reveal Earl was hit by a car soon after winning a $100,000 lottery ticket. While he is lying in the hospital, he gains an understanding of karma and decides to turn his life around. That’s where he decides to keep a list of all the bad things he has ever done to people.
The part of Earl Hickey is admirably played by Jason Lee, who seems the epitome of the southern petty criminal who is trying to make good. He and his young brother, Randall (Randy) Doo Hickey (Ethan Suplee) live together, usually in a room in a sleazy run-down motel. Randy appears rather dimwitted and child-like, and doesn’t understand why Earl’s list is often more important than Randy’s needs.
Jaime Pressly hilariously plays Earl’s ex-wife Joy Farrah Darville/Hickey/Turner who is married to Darnell “Crabman” Turner (Eddie Steeples). Darnell works at the Crab Shack and appears quite often to be more intelligent and aware than the others. Allegedly, he is in the witness protection program although he used to be an assassin for a secret government organization. The other recurring cast member is Catalina Rana Aruca (Nadine Velazquez) who married Randy so she could stay in the United States. She works as a housekeeper at the motel where Earl and Randy live.
My Name is Earl introduced a large number of recurring characters that added much to the humor of the show. Among the portrayers were Beau Bridges as Earl’s father Carl Hickey, Alyssa Milano, Craig T. Nelson as the prison warden, among many others.
Although the show was popular with viewers, some criticized the show for what was perceived as bigoted humor.
The show appears to be headed for syndication, and DVDs, posters, and t-shirts are available for purchase at Amazon.com.