06 January, 2006
The best, and most successful, new show in the US fall season is the single camera comedy My Name is Earl. It's about an unsuccessful petty criminal who discovers karma and sets out to right the wrongs he's done in his life.
What I like about it is that it has an edge but also heart. They succeed in not only laugh out loud moments but moments of real emotion. I find the funniest shows, with the highest audiences and the most awards tend to involve the audience emotionally.
The Creator, Greg Garcia says in an IGN interview: "When we sit down to break a story, sometimes we don't even try to break a story thinking, 'Okay what's gonna be funny?' because we have very talented writers who are gonna make it funny. We think of 'What's a good story?'"And as long as you have a story that earns you an emotional moment at the end I think you can go all kinds of places on the way there and hit all kinds of crazy and pushing the envelope moments as long as the audience really feels that there's a genuine emotional component that they can latch onto it."
Perhaps the main thing to be learnt from the show is how Earl will start out on a journey to simply do something on the list but something will happen to complicate that and he'll end up somewhere more surprising and less predictable. It's that non-linear story-telling that will impress script-readers but is unfortunately more difficult to do.
Greg Garcia interviews:
Chicago Tribune interview
Broadcasting & Cable interview