HBO aired the final episode of its much-loved but not-well-rated show ‘Enlightened’ last night. The half-hour dramedy ended its second season in a way that could easily be the end of the series completely. If this is the case, Mike White and Laura Dern, who both act in and are the creators of ‘Enlightened‘ can rest well knowing that their show has achieved what few shows on TV have managed to do.
They’ve created what I think it a compelling show about a character in Laura Dern who’s intoxicating in her emotional complexity. There is nothing one dimensional about Amy Jellicoe, our heroine who decides to blow a whistle (in a big way) at Abbadon Industries, the company where she and her co-star Tyler (played by Mike white) work. Throughout the 2 seasons, viewers like me find themselves going from identifying with her idealism, to feeling empathetic, to cringing at her overreaching and making a fool of herself.
Have you ever been really angry at someone and know that you shouldn’t react right away, but do it anyway? I’ve often tried to observe myself when I get into one of these states, i.e. take a step back and try to put things into perspective, but, like many, I’ve not always succeeded. Amy Jellicoe always reacts quickly and often says exactly what you would not say if you could ‘take a step back’. Her do-gooder persona comes partly from a natural tendency to want to help people but mostly from wanting to be part of something bigger. To make a difference, rather than simply being a cog. But it also comes from being the ultimate attention-seeker and her need to feel important. Some of this is obviously a result of her relationship with her mother (played by her real mother Diane Ladd) and late father. And then there’s her relationship with her addict ex-husband Levi, played by Luke Wilson.
There is so much more to be explored in her character and especially in her relationship with her mother, which is the one area I feel has been missing in the show. If you’re looking for a hyper-fast moving action-oriented series or one that relies on cheap humor, ‘Enlightened’ isn’t for you. It’s a slow burn that pulls you in. I sincerely hope that HBO renews it for a 3rd season. I think 3 is the right number for these sorts of shows. Mike White blames the lack of viewers on most men not identifying with female heroins. You can read his take on this here.
If you haven’t seen the show, I hope you give it a try. Subscribe to HBO for just a month to get it on demand. If you love it as much as I do, make sure you tell HBO to renew it. There’s a campaign underway via social media.
This article on Salon does a great job of summarizing the show if you’re not convinced.
The Campaign to #RenewEnglightened
HBO’s ‘Enlightened’ needs a 3rd season for a proper conclusion to one of the most amazing and unusual series on TV. Join in on the campaign by posting to twitter with #RenewEnglightened or going to the Enlightened Facebook page below.
Storified by John Vasko· Mon, Mar 04 2013 07:57:17