Written by Musgo Del Jefe
One of the most important things for a sitcom is that the premise is simply explained in the credits. In the case of Two And A Half Men, it's all summed up in the show title. In classics like Gilligan's Island or The Brady Bunch we meet all the characters in the opening credits and know the central backstory through the theme song. The same applies to My Name Is Earl. We see Earl scratching a winning lottery ticket and then getting hit by a car. The narration tells us that he was a bad guy and now he's making up for his bad karma by crossing items off his list of things he's done wrong.
The first season of Earl followed a pretty predictable pattern. Some event caused Earl to decide to fix a particular item on his list. The easier the task sounded, the harder it was to solve. Sometimes, solving one problem, lead to having to solve two or three others before the first was righted. Each of the episodes introduced us to fun new characters of Camden County. And we got to know more about main characters Earl Hickey (Jason Lee), Randy Hickey (Ehtan Suplee), Joy Turner (Jaime Pressly) and Darnell Turner aka Crabman (Eddie Steeples). But at the end of each episode, we were usually back where we started.
Season Two starts what will become a much different tact. In "Very Bad Things", Earl wants to fix #183 - "Never Took Joy's Side." Joy wants to get a "disappearing TV" like she saw on the Britney & Kevin TV show. When it won't fit in her trailer, she's unable to return it to the store because she got Fruit Stripe gum on the receipt. This innocuous moment is the catalyst for the next 23 episodes of the 2nd Season. While we'll still follow Earl and his list, this brilliant move creates a new energy that most sitcoms can't come up with in their second seasons. From a writer's point-of-view, you have a built in B-Story for every episode. But it's not that simple.