|Written by||Mark Drop|
Earl sells his soul to the Devil for a collectible mug that becomes more important to him than his job, family, or friends. Everyone is fed up with Earl and leaves him. Lonely, Earl realizes that people mean more to him than objects, and he discovers a loophole that puts him out of the deal with the devil.
The Sinclair Family and Roy Hess enjoy a fun night of playing board games, and Earl Sinclair is happier than usual, feeling thankful for his family and everything he has. As he is about to get ready for bed he realises that he had so much fun that he didn't even watch TV, and decides to watch a little bit of television. He watches a little bit of a few shows about rich people, and soon feels that he needs what the rich people have. While watching the "Dino-Shopping Network", he sees Cap'n Willie, a mug from the Fernhill Mint company, being advertised, and hears on the TV that having one is the key to happiness. It's an exclusive item, and only a select few callers will get one, so Earl hurries to order one, only for the operator to hang up as soon as he says his name is Earl Sinclair. He wants one so badly that he says out loud that he'd sell his soul for one, and then the devil appears to make a deal.
Earl sells his soul and gets the mug. He shows it to his friends at work, and they are impressed with it. B.P. Richfield orders him to come to his trailer. Earl shows Richfield the mug, stating that he's entitled to have possessions, and Richfield agrees that there's nothing that he can do about that (legally). Richfield reveals to Earl that he also owns not just one, but 13 Fernhill mugs. He tells Earl that now that he owns a Fernhill mug that he has to start acting like a Fernhill mug owner, which means that he has to stop hanging out with his friends, who Richfield believes will try to steal it from him, and also says that Earl has to subscribe to an expensive Fernhill magazine and join a club with an expensive fee.
Earl buys an expensive display case, and comes home to find that Cap 'n Willie is missing. He accuses the Baby of breaking it, but Fran informs Earl that Roy borrowed it to impress a date. This convicnes Earl that Mr. Richfield was right about what he said about Earl's friends. Earl berates Roy for borrowing his mug, and when Fran tells Earl that it's just a mug, he tells her that she's just as dumb as Roy, prompting Roy to break off his friendship with Earl.
Earl watches a news report about recent thieves regarding Fernhill mugs and buys a security system. Fran informs Earl that she couldn't buy any groceries because the store wouldn't accept her checks, and Earl tells her that he had to spend all of the money from his bank account to pay for the security system, and has a yard sale, selling his families items (including Robbie's school books and Charlene's diary) at really expensive prices. Fran gets so mad that she tells Earl that if it weren't for the security system she would break the mug. The Baby then sees this as a bad mug.
The Baby dresses in black and sneaks into the living room, puts a pill in Hank the security guard's coffee, which makes him fall asleep. He then uses a number of elaborate gadgets to get past the security system, and he succeeds until he touches the mug, causing the alarm to go off and the various cages to fall down, trapping the Baby. When Earl finds out, he yells at the Baby, and threatens to put charges against the Baby, but Fran decides to take the Baby and the rest of their kids and leave Earl, until he comes to his senses. Earl is okay with this, because he still has his mug.
A few days pass, and Earl starts to be unhappy with just the mug. Lonely, Earl tries to keep Hank from going leaving, and after he learns that Hank has a family, Hank shows Earl pictures of his family, stating that they aren't much, but they're all he has, and that's enough to make him happy. Earl tells Hank that he has a picture of his mug, but Hank just leaves, muttering "loser". Earl realizes that he lost his family and his friends because of the mug, and realizes that the mug isn't making him happy anymore, and the devil appears, deciding that it's time for him to go, seeing that he no longer has anything to live for. Earl asks if he can take his mug with him, as a reminder of his selfish ways, and the devil says that everyone he takes is entitled to one carry-on. Earl puts Cap 'n Willie in the box that it came in, so that it doesn't get lost in transit, and notices that the box has a legal document stating that if the customer is not satisfied with his product within seven days he can get a full refund. The devil reluctantly gives Earl his soul back, and brings Earl back to the moment where he sold his soul, and everything is back to normal.
- *This episode is from a batch of seven episodes which did not air on ABC, and premiered in syndication on local stations. These episodes also aired on Disney Channel.
- The episode title, "Life in the Faust Lane", is a reference to Faust, a German legend about a scholar who makes a deal with the Devil, selling his soul in exchange for knowledge and worldly goods.
- Taped on August 11, 1993.
- The way the mug is secured by a cage over it when Earl installs security is a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Seen on TV
- The Rich Ones
- Lifestyles of Those We Envy
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