Cultural Arts Review

Posted on October 17, 2012 by


Cultural Arts Review

Sarah Johnson


Karma on Television: My Name is Earl

                The television show, My Name is Earl (2005-2009), depicts karma very well. The show is about a man named Earl who lives a below average life. He spends his days drinking beer and stealing whatever he can. Eventually, Earl wins $100,000 off of a scratch-off ticket. As he discovers he has the winning ticket, he’s hit by a car and loses the ticket. He wakes up in the hospital and realizes the bad things in his life must be happening because of the bad things he’s done. He vows to undo these rotten things, one bad deed at a time. The episodes in this show are based on his checklist of bad deeds he has to undo.

                Buddhism and Hinduism both believe in karma. Karma is the system where if you do good things, good things will happen to you and if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. Every deed you do plants a metaphoric tree. A good deed tree bears good fruit. Buddhism and Hinduism both believe in rebirth as well. Karma carries between lives. The good things you do in this life affect your future rebirth. Good karma will lead to rebirth in a higher realm of life. The realms of life in Buddhism are (in order from highest to lowest) gods, demigods, humans, animals, ghosts, and hell beings.

                As Earl “undoes” his bad deeds, he builds up good karma. If he builds enough, maybe he can prevent himself from getting hit by a car again. He could also be born in a higher realm in his next life. Even if Earl isn’t a declared “Buddhist” or “Hindu”, his belief in karma reflects on the views in these religions.

You can watch My Name Is Earl on or

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