Daily Dojo

Earl, Those Are Skis On Your Feet & That’s A Shark You’re Jumping Over

The Samurai Lady and I have been big fans of MY NAME IS EARL since it made its debut, and Brother Stacy often would call me up and crow something really funny that happened on the show. I’d say that the episode of Earl working at an appliance store, doing an echo of Rudy (complete with the actors from that movie) was one of the funniest shows I saw that year. I watched it a couple times, Brother Stacy and I were killing ourselves, laughing at that.

We loved the show.

It wasn’t just that the Lady and I are Buddhists and this talk about Karma made for some funny shit, that helped, but it was also that the show was well writ, cast and was overall funny as shit. It was a sweet show about a rascal changing his ways, and the fact that it was a trailer-trash criminal who learned about karma from Carson Daly (man, that still cracks me up) was original and pretty damn bold in its satire.

Unfortunately, however, it seems that Earl is now in the process of Jumping the shark.

Just ain’t funny anymore (I’m not speaking for Brother Stacy, of course) . . . and I’m not being grumpy, the Samurai Lady would dearly love to find a show without violence that we both like and can watch (right now, we have CHUCK and JEOPARDY, we had THE EX-LIST but that’s been yanked) since most of the frilly stuff I don’t like and she hates all the ultra-violence and gross stuff in CSI and HOUSE (let’s face it, HOUSE can be gross and scary) and for awhile, EARL was our go-to snuggle and watch show.

Not no more. Just ain’t working. We got to the point where we look at each other and turn the channel. It’s now off our dvr list. I’m sad, so I thought I’d try and figure it out.

The two part season opener was a disaster, with Earl in a coma dreaming he’s in a fifties sitcom, and it had nothing to do with what the essence of the show was. A criminal trying to do good.

Therein lies the problem. In the beginning, Earl struggled with doing good, he didn’t really want to and often almost scrapped it. He fought change. He often hated it.

Now he simply accepts it. The struggles aren’t with himself, but with the outside world and its cast of characters (suddenly a vast number of name guest stars) and he rarely questions it.

The problem is, this is a show about change. Earl is no longer changing. Nor has his efforts really changed anyone around him, Joy is still the tough trashy be-yotch she was since the beginning, Randy is still sweet but dumb, no one else really changes.

That’s normal for a successful television show. Think about it, some of the greatest TeeVee shows we love, the characters never changed (different from films, which it’s often thought that all characters must change, I disagree but that’s a different subject), Jerry never changed, Lucy never changed, etc.

Once the characters work, they don’t change much, if at all. Like people in real life, huge successful sitcom characters fight change. That’s what we like. That’s one reason we tune in (and actually, Archie Bunker became less interesting the nicer he got over the years) every week. Because we know these folks.

And the supporting cast of characters on EARL is truly outstanding . . . however, this isn’t a show about Camden, it’s a show about CHANGE, that was the whole premise, and now EARL’s in a place where he’s changed somewhat and no one else around him has or really can change, if they change too much, the show loses its identification. Audiences (TeeVee) don’t want characters they love to change.

So it’s sort of a rock and a hard place (and one reason EARL has been relying on guest stars so much) for the writers . . . they can’t change too much (and they haven’t even changed Earl himself a whole lot, other than giving up bad deeds, he’s still sort of the same guy, he doesn’t know much more about karma . . . that’s a huge challenge, because every episode is supposed to end with Earl finding out something cool and good about the universe . . . however, go too far, and Earl becomes someone other than Earl, and who knows if anyone will like the guy?) and the supporting cast can’t change much at all, so what do you do with a show about change in which hardly anyone can safely change?

You go as far as you can (which may have been the second season) and then you start riffing on other things . . . which is where the coma came in, the parade of guest stars and, for me, most of the humor. Because the humor was in the characters themselves, their struggle and background, the way they fought change . . . once there’s no fight, once everyone accepts what Earl’s doing, once we the audience figure out there’s no chance of anyone actually changing on the show about transformation, the show loses it’s specialness.

That’s my opinion. I think maybe it could get back on track, I hope it does. Most great shows have troubling seasons and rise above them . . . but I think in order to do that, this show may have to do something it resists. Embrace change.

Just my opinion. What do you think?

2 Responses to “ Earl, Those Are Skis On Your Feet & That’s A Shark You’re Jumping Over”

  1. Stacy Says:

    Well….I’m not ready to call it jumped yet….there’s been a few scary moments….like his marriage….and the groundhog day theme that ran last week….they did that already in the first season. But there’s still too many good characters to let it go. Right now, the thing hurting it the most for me is that piece of garbage they’re trying to boost right after it….Kath and Kim???? Please. Molly Shannon needs to go back to SNL. She may not have been great on there….but she’s miles above anyone there now.

    And I’m not taking seriously any sitcom criticism from someone who can’t appreciate The Office. :)

  2. Joshua James Says:


    I can APPRECIATE the office, I just can’t really go there every day . . . . too much like the many offices I worked in.

    But FAMILY GUY, that shit is killing me right now, seriously.

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