The Gospel According To Earl Hickey

My wife and I recently said goodbye to Direct TV and all of the local cable services, and instead bought a Roku set-top unit and a Netflix subscription for eight bucks a month.  Not only did it free up a usable chunk of monthly budget (and I’m all about doing things on the cheap if possible), but there has to be a bazillion different things to watch.  I even watched a documentary about the history of the Open Source computer software movement… how nerdy is that?

One of the many benefits of a Netflix subscription is being able to watch now defunct TV series in their entirety.  My favorite in recent weeks has been My Name Is Earl.

Photo courtesy of NBC. I hope their lawyers don't read blogs.

I’ll spare you the plot synopsis, since most likely you’ve already seen the show at least once.  If you haven’t, I don’t want to ruin it for you, so you’ll have to watch it for yourself.  Better yet, get a Netflix subscription and watch the entire series. I love Netflix, and so should you.

(This shameless plug brought to you by Netflix.)


I think what intrigues me the most about My Name Is Earl is how the protagonist – Earl Hickey – is a ne’er-do-well who’s trying to make up for the wrongs in his life, and in the process ends up teaching some good, moral stuff.  Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that the show is based entirely from scripture, but the lessons that the characters learn are things that should be important to all of us.  To wit, I give you a few examples (listen up, Christians… you could stand to hear some all of these, too):

When You Do Bad Things, You Have To Make Up For It –  This one’s a biggie for me.  Not only am I guilty of doing bad things in my life, but I’ve also been guilty many, many times of hoping that I won’t get caught and that I’ll get away scot-free.  The avoidance of responsibility is a significant driving force in our culture today, and it’s wrong.  It’s wrong when I do it, and it’s wrong when you do it.  When we do bad things, we have to make amends.

Just Saying “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough –  Earl never lets any of the people he’s wronged say “It’s okay” and just leave it at that.  Earl’s response would always be “I have to make it up to you.”  That’s a good lesson, everyone.  When you wrong someone, it’s not enough to say “sorry about that” and hope that you’re off the hook.  When you wrong another person, you harm them.  When you harm someone, you need to restore them.  Restoration comes from work, not from words.

Sometimes Bad Things Happen To Good People –  Earl sometimes gets the short end of the stick, even when he’s trying to do the right thing.  Sometimes, those bad things are part of the consequence of the harm he did to other people, and sometimes he just gets the short end of the stick because that’s the way it is.  In the long run, though, it all seems to end up working for good.  It rains on the just and the unjust alike.  No one gets a free pass.

Take Care Of Your Brother –  Earl’s brother Randy is kind hearted and lovable, but he needs help.  Earl always makes sure to take care of Randy, because Randy needs someone to care about him.  The fact is, we all do.  Everyone has a Randy, and all of us are a Randy to someone else.  Don’t be selfish.  Take care of your brother.  Or your sister.  Or whoever needs it in your life.

If You Want Good Friends, You Have To Be A Good Friend –  Earl spends his time helping to restore the people that he’s wronged.  In the process, those people become his friends.  How many times are you and I guilty of sitting around and moping about how no one seems to care about us?  When is the last time that we got up and invested ourselves in other people?  Don’t be selfish.  Become the good friend that someone else needs, and you’ll likely get a good friend in return.

Patty The Daytime Hooker Spoke Bengali – She also scored 1500 on her SATs and held a Master’s degree.  She was also as homely as a mud fence.  The point is, don’t judge a book by its cover.  The person you look down upon may have much more inside of them than you realize.

Mr. Turtle’s Name Was Sydney, And He Was Jewish –  I don’t know that there’s any particular significance here.  I just thought it was cute that Darnell cared enough about his pet turtle to name him Sydney and figure out that he was Jewish.  How do you know if a turtle’s Jewish, anyway?  Are they circumcised?  I think my dog Mason is Baptist.  He’s very reluctant to change.

So there you have it, my take on a defunct TV show.  Is it God’s gospel for all time?  Probably not.  Are there good lessons to be learned.  Most definitely.

I’m going to watch a rerun.