Yeah, so HBO cancelled Enlightened, a show that I was quite fond of for many reasons. Mike White, one of my favorite, multifaceted writer-directors, somehow got paired up with the specialized talents of Laura Dern to create the show about a middle-aged woman trying to reassemble herself among her co-workers after making a spectacle of herself during a nervous breakdown in her corporate office.
Only Laura Dern could have played this character, a woman so much the opposite of self-aware, who you feel both disdain and pity for, while tension builds and builds as you move through each episode – something that is clearly the work of White and Dern as a team. If you have ever seen Chuck and Buck, you’d know what I mean, or Dern’s character way back in Blue Velvet. I loved that tension, which is hard to portray in both acting and/or writing.
I was so looking forward to this series, and it did not let me down. It did exactly what I expected in very unexpected ways. “Amy,” Dern’s character is just not likable, but by the end of the first season, the viewer, no matter who you are, will see themselves in her character – all the ugly, self-centered parts, and the parts that mean well.
We all mean well, and we find something beautiful and childlike in what she tried to discover about herself among the sea turtles on the hippy-dippy retreat she was on after her breakdown, which she reflects on occasionally in the episodes in the first season. And in the second season she comes back to try to take the corporation that she works for down, for all the corruption and environmental havoc only she knows they are guilty of.
Anyway, I loved this show, and like many other AMAZING shows, like Deadwood, for instance, HBO has cancelled before they even had time to percolate. Fuckers! On the other end, I am grateful for the risks they have taken and support they have given to shows like Girls, Six Feet Under, Sopranos, Big Love, OZ, etc.
I guess I will just have to cry my way to April 7th when Mad Men starts on AMC.