My personal plea for ‘Earl’ TV

by Lauren Cartwright

Television has been my lifelong friend. I was born to the MTV generation ‘— some of my peers aren’t aware that there was a time with no HBO, 24-hour news, or reruns.

I didn’t watch TV all the time ‘— don’t get me wrong. My mom made sure I read books and played sports, but it was always a treat to watch TV when I was bored or on my way to sleep.

My family owned one of those floor-model monstrous console TV sets ‘— the one with the laminate oak box that no average human could move on their own. It wasn’t a TV ‘— it was a piece of furniture. It didn’t even have a remote ‘— imagine the embarrassment I lived with when friends came over. Not until last year did my parents break down and get a ‘normal’ TV. I was proud of them ‘— welcome to the late ’80s.

Experts say that TV is a bunch of crap, and they’re probably right. For every educational show, there are 20 mindless programs to outweigh it. I’m not looking down my nose, pointing fingers at those who watch the crap, for I am one of the many crapwatchers. I’m a reality show junkie, I’m not talking about any of the ‘good’ reality shows like ‘“Survivor’” or ‘“Big Brother’” that have actually won awards.

I like the really bad ones.

‘“Being Bobby Brown’” ‘— watched it. Do you think I could tear myself away from that weekly melodrama unfolding in the Houston/ Brown household each week? Watching those two gave new meaning to white trash. Yet those two kids seem to be in love, proof that for each ying there is a yang. I’m eager to see if a second season is in the works ‘— I’m keeping my bling-encrusted fingers crossed.

‘“Laguna Beach’” ‘– I watch it. This comes from the network that started the reality craze with ‘“The Real World,’” which we all know isn’t all that real. For those of you conserving brain cells for more important things, I’ll fill you in. This MTV marvel, in it’s 2nd season, chronicles the tough lives of a group of high schoolers surviving the life in affluent Orange County, Calif. They ‘hook up’ more than the hoochies on ‘“Days of Our Lives.’” My friends and I are wondering just what these 17 year olds are referring to when they ask each other if they ‘“hooked up.’” If anyone has a clue ‘— please e-mail me.

‘“The Biggest Loser’” ‘— I watch it every week. I cry and my husband makes fun of me. It’s just so inspiring! Where else can you watch 300-pound people exercising, eating right and changing their lifestyle over a few months period? I chug my soda and eat a candy bar rejoicing in their weight loss triumphs.

I have a feeling the reality reign is over almost over. Thank God ‘— I might have a life a again. This season has seen resurgence in the sitcoms rising to the top. ‘“Two and a Half Men’” has been a strong hold for a few years, along with ‘“The George Lopez Show’” and ‘“Will & Grace.’”

NBC has seen a ratings slump AF (After ‘“Friends’”). I don’t know if they’re in mourning over there or if they can’t find anyone with an original thought. But this year with ‘“My Name is Earl’” I feel they have.

‘“Earl’” (Tuesdays, 9 p.m., NBC) is about a loser. And everybody loves a loser ‘—’ they make us feel a little better about ourselves. Earl, played by actor Jason Lee, is a typical bad seed ‘— stealing from people or making others take the fall for his actions. His trailer-park raised ex-wife Joy, played by Jamie Pressly, who I’m sad to say is shockingly reminiscent of one of my family members, is constantly under his skin. In one episode, Joy stomps down the stairs of the motel Earl lives in and kicks the side of his El Camino. Earl somberly says to his friend and motel maid, Catalina, ‘“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss her.’”

Each show starts off explaining Earl’s plight: he scratches off a winning lottery ticket at a convenience store, runs outside to celebrate and gets hit by a car. While in traction, he sees Carson Daly on a talk show. Daly is talking about his take on karma.

Earl has a karma epiphany and realizes that his bad deeds in turn cause his bad luck. So while in the hospital, Earl makes a list of all the bad things he’s done so that he can try to fix them. Examples from the list of over two hundred items: ‘“Stole car from a one-legged girl’” and ‘“Faked death to break up with girl.’”

Jamie Pressly, who some might remember from Not Another Teen Movie and Jerry Springer’s Ringmaster, acts the part of the lottery-jilted ex-wife perfectly. Her bleached blonde hair and faked tan fits perfectly with her acrylic nail manicure business, two illegitimate children, and her new boyfriend nicknamed ‘Crabman.’ Pressly hails from Kinston, NC which might a have a thing or two to do with her spot-on portrayal of Joy. Also adding to the factor, I recently heard that she dates Kid Rock in ‘real life.’

I like ‘“Earl’” because I think the writing is witty. But mostly I like it because the characters are people you know. A lot of TV shows appeal to who we’d like to be, i.e. ‘“Friends,’” ‘“Sex in the City,’” ‘“Desperate Housewives.’” Earl is the person no one really sees himself becoming.

This is my personal plea for ‘“Earl.’” Plan for a nice Tuesday evening at home: check out NBC with my reality fave ‘“The Biggest Loser,’” stay on for ‘“My Name is Earl’” and then close out the evening with ‘“The Office.’” Give Earl a chance and wake up on Wednesday with the urge to lose weight, to hand out some good karma and the thankfulness your boss isn’t like the guy in ‘“The Office.’”

To comment on this column, email Lauren at