Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Name is Karma

While I've been sick this past week or so, one of the things helping to pass the time has been watching Netflix online. I gravitated toward TV series rather than movies rewatching some old favorites (Ballykissangel 1-3) working at catching up with other favs (Ballykissangel 4 and Bones 4, Doctor Who 4 and several Doctor Who specials and extras) and taking the plunge into a series I'd never seen while it was on TV but always wanted to check it out if for no other reason than it having a character with my name--My Name is Earl.

My Name is Earl only lasted four seasons and I'm currently one third into its last season and torn between keeping the pace the sooner to see how it all turns out or slowing the pace in order to make the fun last longer. I was really surprised by how much I liked this show. I expected to have satisfied my curiosity with two or three episodes and then move on without more than a glance back. But it only took the first episode to hook me.

The premise is a guy who has been a jerk from the time he learned to walk and talk, trashing peoples rights and feelings and property, living by stealing and finding his entertainment in the pain of others and feeling no remorse. Until he gets a wake-up call he can't ignore, is introduced to the concept of Karma (aka What Goes Around Comes Around aka Do Unto Others as You'd Have Them Do Unto You aka The Golden Rule) and decides to change. Not only to start doing the right thing but to make up for all the bad things he did in the past. He makes a list of all those bad things, adding to it as he remembers them and crossing things off after he goes to the person harmed most and makes amends. This has a ripple effect on the lives of his friends and family and those of his past victims--just as his past bad deeds had.

Among his friends and family: his somewhat simple but sometimes (accidentally?) wise younger brother Randy who is his side-kick; and as his nemesis his ex-wife, ex-beauty pageant contestant and vicious brat (Barbie as Harpy?) Joy and her two sons (by two different men neither of them Earl) and her new husband Darnell Earl's friend who works at the restaurant which is a community hangout; and Catalina part time maid at the motel where Earl and Randy live and part time pole dancer/strip tease whom for most of seasons 1 and 2 Randy had a colossal crush.

The show is slap stick silly and quite raunchy at times. The kind of thing I'd be the least likely to enjoy I would have thought. But apparently there are still bastions of prejudice within me awaiting demolition. For under that patina of giggles and gross-out is a witty and wise story that is well written and well acted. It's truly a pity it only lasted four years.

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