The Husband:

Among many other reasons, I waited to do this write up on last Thursday’s NBC comedies because the fate of My Name Is Earl hadn’t been decided yet. As of yesterday, it has been dropped completely from the NBC schedule, and unless it is granted a last-minute pick-up by FOX (which is unlikely), this was the last Earl of all time. For weeks now, I’ve been raging against those who pick on the show for, you know, having a personality and being a very specific kind of funny and actually having a message while not cramming it down your throats. While never breaking the Top 40 (no comedy on NBC’s comedy block can claim that, actually), Earl was a big deal for a couple seasons until it took a turn that people didn’t like (I’m not included in those “people”) and really started to ease into itself.

At the same time, however, I understand that this season wasn’t spectacular (no one season was, not even the first), and as it has been on for four full years, it’s okay for it to go away. I am all for good new shows, but as it is with any year and with any show, that’s always a crap shoot. And with Leno taking up five hours of prime-time NBC television a week out of sheer greed and douchiness, there are fewer spots than ever before to impress me with new programming. So as saddened as I am to see Earl go, I will look back fondly on the hundred episodes and be grateful that such a strange, nutty and sweet show was allowed to live this long.

And with this final episode, we get both a reminder of how goddamn funny the show is, but also a cliffhanger that seems like a desperate renewal ploy, something the show had never done before. (Even when Earl went to jail at the end of season 2, it felt like a solid ending, as his sacrifice for Joy was a huge karmic plus, for some reason reminding me of the ending of the otherwise shitty Brokedown Palace.) But yes, as Earl takes on #174 (“ruined Dodge’s career day”), he and Darnell learn that Joy has been lying all along about who is Dodge’s father. Before, she had no idea, but after being caught in a lie, she admits that it was Little Chubby, a.k.a. Norm MacDonald doing a Burt Reynolds impersonation, or, more appropriately, an impersonation of Burt Reynolds’ son, as the mustachioed man himself played Big Chubby.

Where are my Hulk hands?

Where are my Hulk hands?

When we last checked in on Little Chubby, he had taken a baseball in the nuts in order to cure his asshole nature (when he has testicles, he’s a jerk just like his father, but without them, he’s a philanthropist), but now he’s back to his old ways, as he simply couldn’t run a strip club without having a discerning eye. (e.g. He allows an octogenarian to become a stripper, which ends badly when her vagina falls off.) So now he has giant fake animal balls and is acting like a major jerk. He’s even running a bizarre SAT Tutorial at Club Chubby.

“Little Chubby Tutorial is to SAT prep as Club Chubby is to erections.” – Little Chubby

Because of his jerkiness, he will not allow Earl to take some of his DNA to prove that Dodge is his son, and after failing to grab Big Chubby’s DNA from his coffin by accidentally setting it on fire (which is to be expected, as the funeral involved people pouring massive amounts of booze on the body), Darnell uses his skills (having worked at the CIA, a circus, and is a member of the plumber’s union) to reach from below Little Chubby’s toilet in order to steal a pubic hair.

(See? This show is way too bizarre for network television.)

But when the results come back, Earl learns that Little Chubby isn’t the father. How can this be? Joy was quite drunk at a Halloween party at the Crab Shack, so she wasn’t very choosy by the end of the night. But she mistook Little Chubby, who was dressed as a skeleton, as somebody else dressed in the same outfit.

“Was that the Halloween party where Fat Steve dressed up like the Kool Aid man and broke his nose trying to run through a wall?” – Earl

And so, Earl actually is Dodge’s biological father, and when a pregnant Joy had tricked a hammered Earl to marry her so many years ago, it wasn’t as sketchy as it seemed.

But oh, there’s another twist. It turns out that Earl, Jr. (a.k.a. the “non-white” one) isn’t Darnell’s child either, and that Joy has another secret. But as she’s about to tell, the episode ends, and the viewers are left with a now-depressing “To Be Continued…”

Oy. Definitely desperate. But also interesting. It’s a neat way to turn the show upside-down for its assumed fifth season, but as that is no longer happening, it’s a lost trick. Especially since Randy wasn’t featured in the episode at all.

Two other funny lines:

  • “I’m the only reason you kids aren’t speaking Russian right now.” – Darnell at Career Day
  • “Where did you find that sweater? JaCrew?!” – Joy mocking Earl’s choice of wardrobe

I will miss you, Earl, your misunderstood ways, your over-insistence on guest stars and your creepy relation to Scientologists. But Jason Lee is a damn good actor, and his future continues to be nothing but wide open. And now Eddie Steeples and Nadine Velazquez can finally go forth into the world of comedy and character acting. They’re both that good.