First off, I have to say the first episode Earl was one of my favorites, because Joy is always hilarious. “Joy in a Bubble” was exactly what it sounded like: Joy is stuck in a makeshift plastic bubble, but it’s because she gets a disgusting flesh-eating toe infection because of Earl. It’s not what you think.
While driving Catalina to work for Disabled Discount Day at Club Chubby, Earl spots a hot tub on the side of the road. This is perfect, since he owes Joy a hot tub from the time he cost her a modeling job at a hot tub convention because he lit a cigarette near her hair. He and Catalina trade a homeless man deodorant for the hot tub, and take it to Joy’s.
Joy is obviously thrilled, saying “for the first time, Earl, you have satisfied me in a way Darnell never could.” Joy spends 24 hours in the hot tub, and a neighbor complains about how loud her music is. Joy uses this opportunity to be a good person, by retorting that you don’t hear her “complaining about how loud that baby’s dialysis machine is.”
Darnell sees Joy’s massive toe, and they go to the doctor, who tells them that she caught it from the homeless man who lived under the hot tub. This doesn’t upset Darnell, but Joy’s diseased toe does. He lines the floor of the trailer with foil and only allows Joy to walk on the foil. His measures become more drastic, to the point that Joy is “glazed up with Purell like a Christmas ham” and she finally asks him what she has to do not to be treated like a leper. So he makes her a bubble, and she blames Earl, who is forced to be her proxy while she’s in the bubble.
I loved seeing Earl go run Joy’s errands for a week. At 3:00, she buys meat from the trunk of a car. On Wednesdays, Earl has to spend four hours at the salon to hear all the gossip, and he has to hang out with Dodge and Earl Jr., who Joy believes have no friends. At the school, Earl asks Mrs. Woo Hoo why the boys can’t come to her son’s party, and she says it’s because of Joy. While the boys are at the party, Earl lets it slip to Joy that she’s the reason they have no friends.
Predictably enraged, Joy drives to the party. Earl runs to catch up to her, but finds her sitting in the car unable to confront the other moms. In a moment of vulnerability, Joy asks Earl if she’s a bad mom. I thought this was a great part of the episode, because I got to see another side of Joy. She quickly shatters this by telling Earl to wipe off the gas pedal, because she “toed it pretty good.”
In the second half-hour, which I thought was the weaker of the two, Randy finds a hat, which means he takes on a new identity. Somehow, his new fedora makes him an English gentleman. Kenny complements the fedora and I learn that Earl and Randy don’t watch black and white movies because they remind them too much of newspapers.
Joy rushes into the bar, claiming to have seen Pigsquatch, a massive pig that is rumored to live in the trailer park. Darnell says it might have just been an obese neighbor, but Joy says she “knows the difference between a prehistoric pig and Jumbo Sally.”
Joy wants to catch Pigsquatch because tourists would pay to see the world’s biggest anything. She remembers the time she and Earl saw the world’s biggest anthill when they stole an RV from an old man. While enjoying their new lifestyle and fancy wine glasses “on stilts,” the RV explodes.
Earl decides to go back to the man who they stole the RV from, who now lives in a small shed waiting to die. Earl will have none of that, and tries to cheer the man up. He fixes the roof, and buys him a jog to play music with. Earl and Randy realize that the man misses all the mementos that were in the RV, like pictures of his wife.
Somehow, this gives Earl the idea to give the man a sex doll that he and Joy used to use as a babysitter for the kids. Earl goes to Joy’s and finds that she has caught Pigsquatch using sleeping pills and a bucket of slop, and he asks her an insanely long question to ascertain whether she still has the doll. She does, and she gives it to Earl even though she’ll be out one babysitter.
Jerry, the old man, is thrilled with the doll and with the stuffed animal heads that Earl finds for him. Jerry makes Earl take him to see Joe, whose ear he wants to slice off. Joe blasts them for “bringing a killing machine back to life,” since Jerry once killed three Koreans with a single bullet and no gun. Joe realizes that Jerry is doing this because he was left behind enemy lines. Jerry jumps on Joe, but has a heart attack. Joe has one heart pill left, and gives it to Jerry because he doesn’t want to let him down again.
Joy inadvertently kills the pig, and Darnell is too grossed out when her arms end up “in the pig” when she tries to move it to help her. Luckily, Earl, Jerry and Joe come to her rescue and blow up the pig with dynamite. It’s disgusting.
I loved the first half hour, but I thought the second was weak.