Greg Garcia

Writer-creator, 'My Name Is Earl,' NBC

This quirky, single-camera spoof on trailer-park culture heralded the return of the sitcom and is part of NBC’s bid to restore “must-see” status to its Thursday night. Each show introduces a new character with whom earnest Earl Hickey must make amends to cross off his “list” and restore his good karma.

“Our main goal in coming up with stories is how do we make it about these guys (Earl and his hapless brother Randy) and not about the guy he’s crossing off the list,” says Garcia, who is also writer and creator of CBS’ “Yes, Dear.”

At the same time, some of those Earl has wronged in the past end up as recurring characters on the show, such as “Kenny” and “Patty the daytime hooker.” “We have this little town we’ve created, and we like finding new people,” he says. “It’s ‘Simpsons’-esque. We don’t want to get into a rut where we see the same people over and over.”

It’s only been one season, but already Garcia has been asked what happens when Earl finishes the list. Will the Hickey brothers move on to other challenges?

“We set up this world where the list has changed this guy’s life,” Garcia says. “You wouldn’t say, ‘Let’s do this episode of “NYPD Blue” and they go to the beach!’ The truth is as we continue the series it has to evolve and change some. The trick is to know when those changes need to take place.”

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