Being Kind Is His Game | My Name Is Earl Retrospective

HeadStuff’s new series Binge Guide sees the website’s film section contributors recommend TV shows close to their heart. This entry is on My Name is Earl, in honour of its recent 15th anniversary.

In these times it can be hard to see the good in people. It’s there for a lot but with the advent of social media, especially in 2020, we’ve all been unfortunately exposed to some of the worst that humanity has to offer. All hope seems lost thanks to these grade A so-and-sos so it’s important to have a glimmer of something better. Enter My Name is Earl, a wonderfully heartfelt and inspiring four seasons of television about self improvement and how even the lowest of the low can become better people.

The series follows Earl Hickey, played by Jason Lee, a trailer park white trash jerk who in his own words: does nothing but bad things and wonders why his life sucks. After losing a winning lottery ticket he discovers the concept of karma and realises he has to change and become a better person to finally find some happiness and content in his life. Do good things and good things will happen. He writes a list of everything bad he’s ever done and one by one, episode by episode, he’s out to make up for them.

For an adult comedy series it manages to come off as wholesome but never overly cheesy. Earl’s done some bad things so the people he tracks down aren’t always too fond of seeing him again; after all he stole a car from a one legged girl, tricked an old man into donating to false charities, got people locked up and broke up families. That’s not going to be fixed with a simple apology.

Now with all that, Earl sounds pretty unlikable and to start off he still is. You see the effort he’s making and want him to push for it. But early on he’s expecting a reward or gratification, but as time goes on he sees that just helping someone is enough as he genuinely becomes more and more of a good person until pretty soon you’re rooting for him. He may still mess up and add to his list but he’s putting out more positivity than negativity.

It’s not all about Earl though, as the show has a plethora of great side characters; there’s Earl’s loveable oaf brother Randy (Ethan Suplee), his spoiled ex-wife Joy (Jaime Pressly), his adorable best friend Crabman (Eddie Steeples) and tons more, it’s an exceptionally likeable cast.

My Name is Earl shows the good in doing good and how anyone can improve themselves and be the person they want to be. Not in a career sense or chasing your dream, but the simple fulfillment you can find within yourself by being the best you can be and that doing good is its own reward. It might sound simple but it’s a beautiful message that’s rung true for 15 years now and in 2020 it may ring louder than ever. The series is a bit of a slow burn at the start, and it unfortunately never got a true ending, but it’s still more than worth the journey. What goes around comes around, and it’s always worth another go around with Earl and the gang.

My Name is Earl will have you feeling better about the world and your own potential. If you’ve never seen it before and plan on checking it out I hope that its positive messages, hopeful vibes, genuine laughs and honesty in all walks of life it tackles connect with you as much as they did me.

My Name is Earl can be purchased through Amazon Prime Video.

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