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Trial & Error | Video
September 20, 2005
Jason Lee as Earl J. Hickey
Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner
Ethan Suplee as Randy Hickey
Eddie Steeples as Darnell "Crabman" Turner
Nadine Velazquez as Catalina Aruca
Created by head writer Greg Garcia, "My Name Is Earl" centers on a dim-witted petty crook in fictional, rural Camden County whose unexpected lottery win sparks his belief in karma and the need to make amends for every bad thing he's done. Jason Lee, a former pro skateboarder who had co-starred in several Kevin Smith films as well as "The Incredibles," agreed to take on the title role after meeting directly with Garcia. Within weeks of its premiere, "My Name Is Earl" not only became NBC's highest-rated new fall series, but across all networks, it was the highest-rated new comedy of the season.
In the beginning, Earl Hickey (Jason Lee, "Alvin and the Chipmunks") buys a lottery ticket that turns out to be worth $100,000. He rejoices by dancing in the street - until he's hit by a car, whereupon he loses the winning ticket and lands in the hospital. While he's recuperating and being treated with morphine, Earl watches an episode of "Last Call with Carson Daly" in which Carson and country music star Trace Adkins discuss the power of karma.
Convinced that his troubles are the result of karmic retribution, Earl decides to turn his life around. He makes a list of all the bad things he's ever done and resolves to rectify each one. After he addresses the first item on his list, the winning lottery ticket mysteriously comes back into his possession, leading Earl to conclude that he is right about karma: if he does bad things, bad things happen to him; if he does good things, good things will happen to him. He proceeds to use his winnings to help him cross items off of his list of wrongdoings.
Earl and his even dimmer-witted brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee, "The Wolf of Wall Street"), share a room in a fleabag motel whose pretty Bolivian cleaning lady and sometime stripper, Catalina Aruca (Nadine Velazquez, "Major Crimes"), catches Randy's eye. Earl has daily encounters with his brash, short-tempered ex-wife, Joy (Jaime Pressly, "Jennifer Falls") and her new husband, Darnell "Crabman" Turner (Eddie Steeples, "Raising Hope"), an affable local chef who Joy was sleeping with while still married to Earl. Although at first she feels entitled to half of Earl's winnings and tries to bully or scheme her way into getting some of his money, over the course of the show Joy changes her tune and joins Randy in helping Earl attempt to make amends.
In 2006, the pilot episode won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for Greg Garcia and Marc Buckland, respectively, and after being nominated for an Emmy that year, Jaime Pressly went on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2007. The series was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 2006, for a People's Choice Award in 2008 and for BAFTA Awards in 2007 and 2008. Jason Lee received nominations in 2006 and 2007 for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards and in 2007 for a Kids' Choice Award. Additionally, the cast received a SAG Award nomination for Best Ensemble, and Beau Bridges and Giovanni Ribisi received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Other noteworthy guest stars include Betty White ("Hot in Cleveland"), Michael Peña ("American Hustle"), Chloë Grace Moretz ("The Equalizer"), Judy Greer ("Married"), David Arquette ("Scream"), Roseanne Barr ("Roseanne"), Jenna Elfman ("1600 Penn"), Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory"), Christian Slater ("Mind Games"), Dax Shepard ("Parenthood"), Burt Reynolds ("Boogie Nights"), Brett Butler ("Grace Under Fire"), Timothy Olyphant ("Justified"), Howie Mandel ("America's Got Talent"), Danny Glover ("Lethal Weapon"), Erik Estrada ("CHiPs") and Jane Lynch ("Glee").