My Name Is Earl

My Name Is Earl is an American sitcom television series created by Greg Garcia that aired on the NBC television network from September 20, 2005, to May 14, 2009, in the United States. It was produced by 20th Century Fox Television and starred Jason Lee as Earl Hickey, the title character. The series also starred Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, and Eddie Steeples.

My Name Is Earl
Created byGreg Garcia
Narrated byJason Lee
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes96 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Jason Lee
  • Henry J. Lange Jr.
  • Danielle Sanchez-Witzel
  • John Hoberg
  • Michael Pennie
  • Kat Likkel
  • Mike Mariano
  • Jessica Goldstein
  • Hilary Winston
  • Chrissy Pietrosh
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time19–24 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor20th Television
Original networkNBC
Picture format1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 20, 2005 (2005-09-20) 
May 14, 2009 (2009-05-14)

The series was filled with hapless blue-collar figures and situated in an unnamed Southern state filled with palm trees. In spite of their foibles, the characters were treated with pathos, an extension of the show's essential premise, as stated by Earl speaking about himself to introduce each episode in Season 1:

The series ended abruptly with a cliff-hanger episode to conclude Season 4, ostensibly to be resolved in Season 5, but was cancelled due to an unspecified inability to go forward without compromising its "artistic integrity".


Earl Hickey is a small-time thief, living in the fictional rural town of Camden, who loses his winning $100,000 lottery ticket after being hit by a car while he celebrates his good fortune. Lying in a hospital bed, he learns about karma during an episode of the talk show Last Call with Carson Daly. Convinced he has to turn his life around to be happy, Earl gives himself over to the power of karma. He makes a list of every bad thing he's ever done and every person he has ever wronged, and makes efforts to fix them all. After doing a first good deed, he finds the $100,000 lottery ticket that he had lost. Seeing this as a sign of karma rewarding him for his commitment, Earl uses his newfound wealth to do more good deeds according to his list.[1]

Earl's wife Joy throws him out, leaving her with Dodge, whom she conceived before getting together with Earl, and Earl Jr., who was fathered during their marriage, but not by Earl. Earl moves into a motel and lives with his brother Randy, and they meet Catalina, the motel's beautiful maid who illegally emigrated from somewhere in Latin America. Earl works on the list which mostly involves strangers and old acquaintances he has wronged, but also contains items involving his family. Initially Joy plots to kill or blackmail Earl for his lottery winnings, but later gives up. Joy marries Darnell Turner, a mutual friend who works at a local restaurant called the Crab Shack, and with whom she had been having an affair. In the Season One finale, Earl discovers he had bought the lotto tickets using money he stole from another person, but when he tries to return his winnings to that person, the latter is inflicted with bad karma, so he returns the money to Earl.

The second season has Earl continuing to work on his list, however, Joy gets in trouble when she steals a delivery truck and ends up kidnapping and assaulting the member of staff who was inside. Joy is arrested for felonies that would put her in prison for life because it was her third strike. To soften the jury, she decides to have a surrogate baby for her half-sister Liberty Washington. When things do not go well at her trial, Earl sacrifices himself by confessing to all of Joy's crimes, and is sentenced to two years in a state penitentiary. Also during the series, Catalina was deported, so Earl and Randy visit her home village in Latin America, and Randy marries Catalina in a green card marriage so she can return to the United States.

In the third season, Earl is still imprisoned, but continues to do good deeds despite not having his list on him. He meets Frank, whom he had rented the trailer from in which Joy and her husband Darnell now live; while Randy gets a job as a prison guard to be closer to Earl. Meanwhile, Joy gives birth to Liberty and Ray Ray's baby. Earl's good deeds attract the attention of the state warden Jerry, who offers Earl a reduction in prison time for helping him resolve his issues. When Earl is about to leave, Jerry revokes Earl's reductions as he would lose such a productive helper, but Earl eventually gains the upper hand and forces Jerry to honor his early release. After leaving prison, Earl loses his confidence in the list; he has spent years and the last of his lottery winnings doing good things, but has nothing lasting to show for it, and is insistent that karma should have given him some kind of lasting reward by now. He reverts to his old, malicious ways, doing cruel and illegal things until Frank's ex-girlfriend Billie Cunningham hits him with her car and puts him into a coma, then is subsequently hit herself. Randy is able to revive Earl by working on the list. Earl finds Billie and marries her, thinking she is karma's reward for his years of effort. When Earl and Billie argue over the list, and Earl chooses the list over her, Billie goes into a rampage that undo his good deeds. However, when Billie hides in the Amish-like "Camdenite" settlement, she has a change of heart, then divorces Earl and gives him the rest of her insurance settlement money.

The fourth season goes back to focusing on Earl doing good deeds to cross off his list.[2] A major story arc during this season was that Darnell, who is actually a former assassin from a secret government agency, blows his witness protection cover. He, Joy and his family are forced to change identities and relocate until Darnell's father, also from the agency, goes on a mission with Darnell which clears them of needing protection. The season ends with a cliffhanger episode in which Earl and the gang learn from DNA test results that Earl is actually Dodge's biological father. However, they also learn that Darnell is not Earl Jr.'s father, revealing Joy had another affair.


  • Jason Lee as Earl Hickey, a small-time thief who turns his life around after winning money on a lottery scratcher and making a list of wrongs that he plans to make amends for.
  • Ethan Suplee as Randy Hickey, Earl's dim-witted brother.
  • Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner, Earl's ex-wife who lives in a trailer park.
  • Nadine Velazquez as Catalina, the maid at the motel where Earl and Randy reside.
  • Eddie Steeples as Darnell Turner, a worker at the local restaurant that Earl and the gang frequent. He marries Joy in season 1.



Creator and head writer Greg Garcia wrote the pilot while working on another sitcom, Yes, Dear. He initially pitched the series to Fox, which passed on it. He then approached NBC, which optioned the pilot on a cast-contingent basis, meaning they would order the pilot provided a suitable cast could be assembled. Jason Lee was approached for the lead role, but was uninterested in working in television and passed on the series twice before finally agreeing to read the pilot script. Though he liked the pilot, he was hesitant to commit to his first TV starring role until meeting with Garcia, after which he signed on to play Earl Hickey.[3]


My Name Is Earl is set in fictional Camden County. Creator Greg Garcia says:

In the episode "BB", Earl's driver's license address is at "Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Space C-13, Camden County", but the state is not listed. Creator Greg Garcia said that Camden County is loosely modeled on Pimmit Hills, Virginia, the neighborhood where he grew up.[4][5] The filming location in Los Angeles was not a trailer park, but was built up to look like one.[6]

Many of the locations were filmed in San Fernando Valley in California. In the season 1 episode "The Professor", Earl receives a postcard from Alex with the address "Earl Hickey, The Palms Hotel RM 231, 9005 Lincoln Blvd, Camden USA" with Earl's hand covering up most of the postmark. The Palms Motel structure is actually a motel in North Hills, California, now named the Palm Tree Inn Motel. It was also used to film other shows and films such as Gilmore Girls, The Mentalist, and Heroes.[7][8][9][10] Exterior shots of the Crab Shack and Club Chubby were also taken from locations in Van Nuys and North Hills.[6] Houses and shops for the various characters come from locations in Van Nuys, Santa Clarita, Northridge, Moorpark, Los Angeles, and other Southern California cities.[11][12][13] In the episode "Didn't Pay Taxes", Earl and Randy climb the landmark Artesia water tower, although they do not refer to it by name.[14]

Other episodes have listed states that were unlikely to have Camden County. In the episode "Our Other Cops is On", officer Stuart Daniels states that his surveillance equipment was "supposed to go to Camden, New Jersey, but came here instead". In "Earl and Joy's Anniversary", when killer bees have invaded Camden and then left, Iqball says that the bees are heading for Texas. The flashback episodes "Inside Probe" describe Camden County as trying to stay independent during the American Civil War and forming its own country called Central, which lasted less than a day.

Cancellation and future

The series ended abruptly on May 19, 2009 after running for four seasons. Season four had ended with the caption 'To Be Continued'. The series' producer, 20th Century Fox Television, approached the Fox,[15] TBS[16] and TNT[17] networks to continue the series, but they were unable to come to terms without "seriously undermining the artistic integrity of the series."[16][18][19][20][21][22]

In October 2011, Jason Lee told E! Online he has been in talks with Greg Garcia to finish the list via a movie, possibly to be released online.[23]

On October 1, 2013, creator Greg Garcia participated in an "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on Reddit. Fan Jerry Denton asked "Who was Earl Jr's. real father and did Earl ever finish the list?"

Garcia replied:[23]

Critical reception

The show was well received by critics and audiences alike. One reviewer speculated that Earl's forthrightness to having led a life of idiocy is what endears him to the viewer, and is what suggests there is a depth to his character beyond what is initially seen.[1] Many of the negative and ambivalent reviews center on what is perceived to be base[24] [25]

The series was nominated twice for Best International Programme at the British Academy Television Awards in 2007 and 2008. The pilot episode won Emmy awards for Outstanding Writing and Directing in a Comedy Series for Greg Garcia and Marc Buckland respectively at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards. Jaime Pressly won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy series at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Other Emmy nominations include Beau Bridges and Giovanni Ribisi for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

Some critics questioned if the series had been influenced by Scientology, with actors Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee being Scientologists at that time.[26] In 2008, Alec Baldwin publicly named Earl creator Greg Garcia as being a Scientologist;[27] Garcia quickly denied any involvement with Scientology, claiming that the Daily Mirror had incorrectly reported him to be a Scientologist.[28]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
124September 20, 2005 (2005-09-20)May 11, 2006 (2006-05-11)
223September 21, 2006 (2006-09-21)May 10, 2007 (2007-05-10)
322September 27, 2007 (2007-09-27)May 15, 2008 (2008-05-15)
427September 25, 2008 (2008-09-25)May 14, 2009 (2009-05-14)

Home media

DVD NameRelease datesEp #Additional Information
Region 1Region 2
Season One[29]September 19, 2006September 25, 200624The four disc box set includes all 24 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary tracks on selected episodes, selections from the season's gag reel, and a "mini-episode" vignette where Stewie Griffin from Family Guy influences Earl to get revenge on everyone who wronged him.
Season Two[30]September 25, 2007January 28, 200823The four disc box set includes all 23 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, commentary tracks on selected episodes, as well as other featurettes.
Season Three[31]September 30, 2008[32]October 20, 2008[33]22The four disc box set includes all 22 episodes. Bonus features include a gag reel, "Creating the characters" featurette and deleted scenes.
Season Four[34]September 15, 2009October 5, 200927The four disc box set includes all 27 episodes. Bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, "Earl's Fan Mail" featurette and a movie trailer inspired by the premiere episode. Also released on Blu-ray.


The series premiered on September 20, 2005, drew in 14.9 million viewers in the United States, earning a 6.6 rating. By the airing of the third episode it was apparent that My Name Is Earl was the highest rated of NBC's new fall offerings, and a full season (22 episodes) was ordered. In its first month, it was also the highest rated new sitcom of the season to air on any network and was the highest rated sitcom on any network in the 18–49-year-old demographic. The show was renewed for a second season (2006-07), a third (2007-08), and a fourth (2008-09).

Season Timeslot (EDT) Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewers
(in millions)
1 Tuesday 9:00 P.M. (September 20 – December 6, 2005)

Thursday 9:00 P.M. (January 5 - May 11, 2006)

September 20, 2005 May 11, 2006 2005-06 10.9[35]
2 Thursday 8:00 P.M. September 21, 2006 May 10, 2007 2006-07 8.9[36]
3 September 27, 2007 May 15, 2008 2007-08 7.3[37]
4 September 25, 2008 May 14, 2009 2008-09 6.6[38]


20th Century Fox Television has cleared My Name Is Earl in nearly 50% of the U.S., said Bob Cook, the company's president and chief operating officer. 20th had sold the off-net sitcom to the Fox, Tribune, CBS, Hearst-Argyle, and Sinclair station groups for a fall 2009 debut.[39]

My Name Is Earl aired in off-network syndication and on TBS, Ion Television, and MyNetworkTV in the United States. Canada airs the series on Joytv. The series premiered in January 2006 on Channel 4 in the UK. The fourth and Final season was shown on E4 in October 2008. In 2013, 5Star gained the repeat rights to the series. The show will be repeated on Comedy Central Extra from March 5, 2018.

See also


  1. DeWolf Smith, Nancy (September 16, 2005). "Arts and Entertainment Review". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
  2. ""My Name Is Earl" Season 4 Preview: The Legend Of Dan Coscino – Channel Guide Magazine". September 19, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  3. My Name is Earl season 1 DVD extra: Making Things Right: Behind the Scenes of My Name is Earl Featurette
  4. Seibel, Deborah Starr (October 9, 2004). "Comedy Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry". New York Times. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  5. "The surprise hit of My Name is Earl". Entertainment Weekly. January 13, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  6. Chas Demster (September 2014). "My Name Is Earl – The Main Locations". Chas Demster. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  7. Blake, Lindsay (January 29, 2016). "The Palms Motel from "My Name Is Earl"". Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  8. Hutchinson, Guy (November 2, 2007). "My Name Is Earl hotel". Bunchojunk. Retrieved July 21, 2017 via Blogspot.
  9. Hutchinson, Guy (February 17, 2012). "Film locations: The "My Name is Earl" motel". Locationsfromfilms. Retrieved July 21, 2017 via Blogspot.
  10. Hoffarth, Tony (January 28, 2010). "My Name is Earl". Flickr. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  11. Chas Demster (September 2014). "My Name Is Earl – The Houses Of Camden County". Its Filmed There. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  12. Chas Demster (September 2014). "My Name Is Earl – Businesses, Churches And Schools Of Camden County". Its Filmed There. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  13. "My Name Is Earl – Other Memorable Locations". Its Filmed There. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  14. Official City of Artesia, California (2015). "Investigating the Water Tower's Structural Integrity". Retrieved July 21, 2017 via Facebook.
  15. Fernandez, Maria Elena (May 19, 2009). "'My Name Is Earl' creator is OK with being 'thrown off the Titanic'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  16. Littleton, Cynthia (June 8, 2009). "TBS may give new 'Earl' segs a whirl". Variety. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  17. Flint, Joe (May 20, 2009). "TBS ready to be lifeboat for 'My Name Is Earl'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  18. Suplee, Ethan (May 23, 2009). "Thanks for the effort guys…". Twitter. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  19. Chambers, Elizabeth; Godwin, Jennifer (June 9, 2009). "Could My Name Is Earl Be Saved?". E!. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  20. O'Connor, Mickey (June 10, 2009). "My Name Is Earl in Talks to Move to TBS". TV Guide. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  21. Godwin, Jennifer (June 11, 2009). "My Name Is Earl Dead, Deal with TBS Won't Work Out". E!. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  22. Ausiello, Michael (June 11, 2009). "This just in: 'My Name is Earl' will NOT live on". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 21, 2009. Retrieved October 5, 2009.
  23. "Jason Lee on My Name Is Earl Movie: "It's Time!"". E! Online. October 21, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  24. "We learn that the items on Earl's list include No. 86, "stole a car from a one-legged girl," and No. 22, "peed in back of cop car." Gosh, what swell episodes those ought to make." Quote by Shales, Tom (September 20, 2005). "Earl Defines What It Takes To Be Sorry". Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  25. "My Name Is Earl is not a stupid sitcom – that is what makes its sexist and homophobic jokes so maddening... Viewers aren't encouraged to laugh at Earl, as much as they are with him – at the people on his list." Citation from Will karma smile on NBC's 'My Name Is Earl'?, Baltimore Sun, by David Zurawik, 20 Sept 2005; text retrieved from AV Science Forum, Feb 2009.
  26. Donaghy, James (June 29, 2007). "My name is L Ron Hubbard". The Guardian. Retrieved April 17, 2009.
  27. Gawker article: "Alec Baldwin Doesn't Take Any Shit From Scientologists Archived March 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine."
  28. Spiegelman, Ian (April 17, 2009). "Greg Garcia Responds to Baldwin: 'I'm Not a Scientologist.'". ' Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  29. "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 1st Season DVD Information". Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  30. "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 2nd Season DVD Information". Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  31. "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 3rd Season DVD Information". Archived from the original on October 21, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  32. "My Name Is Earl – Season Three (2009)". Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  33. "(UK) : My Name Is Earl: Season 3 (4 Discs) : DVD – Free Delivery". Archived from the original on January 29, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2012.
  34. "My Name Is Earl – The Complete 4th Season DVD Information". Archived from the original on July 30, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  35. "Series". The Hollywood Reporter. May 26, 2006. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  36. "2006–07 primetime wrap". The Hollywood Reporter. May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
  37. Justin Van De Kamp (June 1, 2008). "TV Ratings: 2007–2008 Season Top-200". televisionista. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  38. "Season Program Rankings from 09/22/08 through 05/17/09". ABC Medianet. May 19, 2009. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
  39. Paige Albiniak (January 8, 2009). "Twentieth Clears 'Earl' In Half The Country". Broadcasting & Cable. Reed Business Information. Retrieved October 28, 2009.

Further reading

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