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May 12, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 12, 2006 |

Ok, seriously people, “Arrested Development” is the best sitcom on TV, and nobody is watching it. Monday night’s season premiere was fantastic, but it lost in the ratings to “7th Heaven.” 7th. Fucking. Heaven. As show creator Mitch Hurwitz said during Sunday’s barf-tastically boring Emmys, “We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the fact that the academy has twice rewarded us for something you people won’t watch.” Why won’t you people watch? Why?!

Ok, look, I’m not here to berate you or rant about “Arrested Development”; I’m here to tell you about another funny show that might be worth half an hour of your precious life. If you care about TV enough to be reading this column, then you’ve probably already heard the hype about NBC’s “My Name Is Earl,” namely, that it’s supposed to be one of the funniest new shows of the just-begun season. Couple this hype with my own predisposition to all things Jason Lee and the male-pig-in-me excitement about the appearance of the scrumptious Jamie Pressly and … well, even though I had not yet seen the show, I was as high on it as Kate Moss with an empty straw.

And I’m happy to report that the show’s premiere lived up to my expectations.

The premise of the show is simple enough. Lee plays the titular Earl, complete with a mustache shipped to him direct from a 1970’s porno flick. Earl has done some bad things in his life; 259 bad things, to be precise. Things like, “stole a car from a one-legged girl,” and “harmed and possibly killed innocent people with second hand smoke.” Thanks to an unconventional life lesson (take one part “gets winning lottery ticket,” add two jiggers of “loses lottery ticket 10 seconds later when hit by car,” mix in a splash of Carson Daly and shake thoroughly), Earl has decided that it’s all about the karma, and things in his life can only get better if he starts making amends for all of the shitty things he’s done in his life. So the list of bad things is his “roadmap to a better life.” Think “Quantum Leap” in a trailer park with a half finished bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 …

Theorizing that one could fix mistakes made in one’s own lifetime, Earl Hickey created a list of life mistakes and drank a beer … and so Earl finds himself leaping from list-number to list-number, striving to put right what he once put wrong and hoping each time that the next fix will make things better at home.

This show has all the necessary elements to be a hit: There’s a solid premise with the potential to give the show some real legs; there’s some highly entertaining acting between Lee’s deviantly charming Earl, Pressly’s spot-on white trash ex-wife, and Ethan Suplee’s hilariously dim brother; there are valuable life lessons to learn here, such as the fact that daytime hookers don’t care if a man has muscles because “muscles can’t buy Mad Dog”; there are fun games to learn which the whole family can play, like Beer Can Tag; and there’s even great music — the first episode featured tracks as diverse as Jane’s Addictions’ “Been Caught Stealing,” Nena’s “99 Luftballons” and Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two.”

Oh, yeah, and it’s pretty damn funny, too. Look, “Arrested Development” seems to be eternally holding on for dear life; “Scrubs” is on life support. Do a good deed, if not for yourself then for the sake of good comedy, and watch this show — it’ll at least help make up for some of the bad things you’ve done in your life (specifically, those of you who are keeping “Two and a Half Men” high in the ratings).


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He lives in Washington, D.C., and couldn’t be happier that summer “intern season” is finally here.

The TV Whore / Seth Freilich

May 12, 2006

TV | May 12, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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