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Reviews & Ratings for
"Enlightened" More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

I Cant tell where this is going....

Author: plex from United States
14 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I cant tell whether they are making fun of people who become enlightened or if they feel they can enlighten the world stemming from what seems to be a fairly vapid self-help seminar. "They" in this review refers to Mike White and Laura Dern who have their hands all over this new comedy/drama in fields of creation, production, directing, writing and performing. Maybe with less cooks in the kitchen the show has more focus and self-control, but that focus isn't apparent to this reviewer yet. Maybe they are pointing out the futility of change or perhaps how jaded and impersonal the world around them has become. The message is unclear, as I have no idea whether to root for our leading lady or hit some sense into her with a polo mallet. The show is fresh and unique, and its great to see Dern on the screen, aging but still looking good, I guess the mid 40's IS the new mid-30's as her hair and clothing style reflect the latter. I have always appreciated her skills, and its good to see her stretch out in this one,but by the end of this 30 minute episode I was already getting both bored and annoyed as the show is already getting a bit preachy and a lot pretentious. Once again, the men are written as jerks as one is a numb corporate type who cheats and the other a drug addict.Even with that, I will watch more episodes to see if the show manages to gain focus, entertain, and cease the self- important message.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Mirror.

10/10
Author: Man Bok from Aberdare
10 November 2014

I use IMDb on a regular basis just for reading reviews, although I always felt compelled to write my own reviews, it was not enough as most other people already have said, what i would have said.

For this specific title, I had to write something.

First of all, the show has been canceled this year and I'm glad. Season 2 final leaves a great ending point and I highly doubt a 3rd or 4th season could have topped it. Sometimes it is better to leave a little bit open for speculation, but not too open, so that people get satisfaction of a well rounded ending. It is perfect.

Why did I title this review "mirror"? Well, this series exposes and shows the truth about human nature and social interaction. About life. While watching it, sometimes I found it almost unbearable (like a car crash that you can't watch, but can't look away), because it was too true, showing the ugly reality. I'm fairly sure, many, many people can relate to some degree, or 100% degree to the characters in this show. All the traits and natures of us humans are shown from hypocrisy to forgiveness, love, hate, hopes, dreams, imagination and clash with real world, disappointment, resentment, regret, success, happiness and so on.

Right, so you think you might have seen it all before? Not quite.

It's not only the exposure of human nature, but we are constantly kept on our heels through this series, as happiness doesn't mean happy. Success doesn't mean successful. It plays with your mind and shows the viewer his/her own imperfections. How we judge and assume, how we guess and conclude.

It works so well from episode one. It could be something you disregard, but if you stick around, the well written script and the extra ordinary acting by all individuals involved will grab you.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Painful

1/10
Author: gilda-1 from Versailles, France
17 October 2014

One of the most unbearable and painful show I have ever watched. I wanted to punch someone after seeing each of the three episodes I endured. It's not funny, it's not charming, it's not emotional or shocking. It's more like fingernails on a blackboard. Except the first 30 seconds of the first episode where Dern went crazy, the rest of the show is just about the most dumb and uninteresting character I ever saw. I just don't get how the characters are bound together, they don't actually interact. I feel they just live their lives in parallel. This show is very frustrating and for my taste it is unwatchable. On the brighter side, I have to mention that it is technically good, the lights are good, the sets are various. Finally as I have to reach the 10 lines, I would add that there is a lot of shows with people worse (by their behaviors, bad habits and so on) than Dern's character. But to be honest, only Steve Urkel can compete with her as being such an irritating person and at least Urkel was someone good who seems to sometimes understand people.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
21 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

An HBO TV series written and created by Mike White, "Enlightened" stars Laura Dern as Amy Jellico. Amy works within the marketing department of Abaddon Industries, the company aptly named after the Biblical "Abaddon" (a bottomless pit and place of destruction).

"Enlightened" opens with Amy quite literally losing her mind. Driven insane by bastardly bosses and crummy corporate credos, Amy escapes to a "spiritual retreat" in which she learns "hippie values" and in which she has idyllic visions of sparkling waters and floating turtles. Why, Amy thinks, can't the whole world be like this? As such, Amy returns to Abaddon with a new evangel; she will impose upon the world a new reality, a new way of thinking, a new ethos! Everyone else thinks Amy's nuts.

Toward the end of its first season, "Enlightened" becomes a comical political tract. Howard Zinn for the "Sex and the City" generation, Amy becomes a revolutionary outfitted in Prada and knock-off Gucci. Amy's original corporate values – a kind of Randian social Darwinism which trumpets extreme individualism and in which the only ethical precepts are those which sanction cutthroat competition – are thus swiftly replaced by more "enlightened" values (love, peace, respect, community, environmental concerns etc). Because Amy's scatterbrained and a little bit confused, these values are ill-defined and only superficially understood by Amy herself. Indeed, Amy initially treats these values as fashion accessories, little trinkets and badges of honour to be worn and displayed. Soon, Amy begins to display all the behavioural patterns of a cult-member, the poor girl clinging to these values in an attempt to be "born again" a "better", "saner" more "humane" person. White even goes to lengths to portray Amy as being hypocritical, vindictive and often angry.

So what's great about "Enlightned" is that it portrays Amy's "enlightenment" as being a form of "instability". Her "enlightenment" is not a rational ideological choice, but rather the accidental byproduct of social rejection, social violence, personal stupidity, emotional wounds and of various self-defence mechanisms. In short, it is the world which radicalizes Amy and which then deems her insane for being radical. At the same time, White makes it clear that Amy's "craziness" is in fact a type of beautiful sanity. It is only in the eyes of an insane world that Amy appears a crackpot. As such, Amy is aggressively demonized, mocked and belittled by her "sane" co-workers, all of whom have been fully colonised by Abaddon's logic, jargon and values. These "sane" co-workers, of course, are slowly revealed to be deluded nuts. Or as George Orwell ironically pointed out in "1984": "Sanity is statistical. It is merely a question of learning to think as they thought." Abaddon wants you thinking like Abaddon thinks.

"Enlightenment's" second season watches as Amy attempts to reform Abaddon Industries. She attempts to implement a form of "green", "compassionate" and "sustainable capitalism", which are of course oxymora. When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom profit that loses, and, as activist Lucia Ortiz once said, asking "capitalism to transition to a Green Economy is like asking a tiger to become a vegetarian". Amy's wishes are thus a systemic impossibility; any system predicated upon exponential growth (in production, energy consumption, market expansion, interest based money creation etc) must ignore a variety of ecological, moral and social concerns just to stay alive. Already, for example, Earth Overshoot Day - the day on which we've used more of the planet's resources than it's able to replenish in a year — is steadily arriving earlier and earlier; it now takes an Earth and a half to support our current rate of resource extraction. By mid-century, under "modest" projections for population growth, we will need three Earths (about 85 percent of the world's population lives in countries that are overusing what they're able to replenish).

So Amy is ultimately unable to slay Abaddon. Amy and a LA Times reporter (Dermot Mulroney) may run an expose on the company, but her values and its are incompatible and there can never be meaningful reconciliation.

"Enlightenment" finds Laura Dern doing her best work outside of David Lynch. Her character – a wholly original creation - is a roaring mass of contradictions and conflicting emotions, all of which Dern expertly conveys. Unfortunately White's series is a good five or six episodes too long, contains far too much padding and White would have done better to adopt a more comedic tone. Indvidiaul episodes were directed by a number of well-known auteurs, including Jonathan Demme, Nicole Holofcener and White himself.

8/10 – See White's "Year of the Dog", which sketches a similarly complex portrait of animal right's activism.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Uhhhhh..... No, I don't think so.

5/10
Author: kthixon from Atlanta
30 July 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I tried really hard to like this show, but just about everyone in the show is irritating, especially the lead character Amy. I know that people have said this before as a kind of positive criticism, but I don't think so. Amy supposedly had been an manager at her company, but I find this totally unbelievable. She's a complete idiot and no one likes her, and I do not believe that she would have been a better person when she was drinking and doing drugs. It is easier to believe that she was manipulative and narcissistic, because that it the character she is after her "enlightenment". Actually I have no idea why they even call the show "Enlightened", it's more like "Bi Polar". Levi, her ex-husband, is the only main character that seemed authentic, and I have no idea what he would have saw in her over a 25 year period, even while he was drunk. The only reason that I would have wished that there had been a third season would be to see her get arrested for computer hacking and thrown into jail. In an attempt to get a better deal, I'm pretty that she would have turned on the two saps who helped her with her "project". I cannot recommend this show.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Amy's Angst

9/10
Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
15 December 2012

While watching you will probably feel as frustrated and angry as Amy (Laura Dern) in this made for cable series. Because she is not the easiest character to warm up to and you may feel like shaking some sense into her overbearing and neurotic behavior. That is the point in this rather risky show.

The first season of half-hour episodes is a good effort that is an emotional roller-coaster of angst and dark comedy.

It may be too sharp and rough going for mass appeal, but it does have that edge for viewers of this type of social commentary and could be regarded as a cry-out to those square pegs trying to make sense of those round holes. The villain here is mostly corporate greed and impunity. It is a David and Goliath story and one cannot help but be on the side of the underdog.

The series is populated with interesting offbeat characters and the dysfunction comes from all sides. In Season One There is very little resolution and it has set up a fight to the finish with a very flawed character putting on the gloves and taking on a "Champion" and the odds are heavily against. In Season Two it will have a difficult decision whether to have an upset and crown a new "Crusader Champ", or not. Place your bets.

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Awesomely addictive

9/10
Author: Douglas Jones from Los Angeles
12 December 2014

I just clicked on this for lack of better looking choices on Amazon Instant and ended up binge watching all of the 2 seasons. It's so well done, with the writing, the acting, the story, the cinematography, the creative parts. I love this show. Laura Dern and think she is a very under- appreciated actress. She is great in this show. To see that she's the executive producer makes me respect her even more. There are so many story lines to follow as well and they play it all out in a very smart way. The flash backs and the little reveals of each character's story is done really well. I feel like this show could go on and on for many seasons and still be very good. I'm not quite sure why this show isn't just as popular as Mad Men. Maybe since it's on HBO and many people don't subscribe to HBO. I feel like if this show was made into a Netflix Original it would be wildly popular like House of Cards. I feel it's just as enjoyable to watch as both of the previous very popular shows I mentioned.

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The first season is just okay, but the payoff in the second season is extremely moving

Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
17 February 2014

The A.V. Club named this the best series of 2013, beating out popular favorite Breaking Bad and angering many readers who had never even heard of this obscure HBO series. It aired its first, 10 episode season in late 2011. Its second, 8 episode season aired at the beginning of 2013. A third season was planned, but HBO canceled it. Watching the first season, I was a little perplexed at where the praise had come from. Laura Dern is good in the lead, playing Amy Jellicoe, a woman working at a high position at a pharmaceutical company who gets fired after having an emotional breakdown. She goes to a New Age-y treatment facility in Hawaii and, six months later, returns to the company in a much lower position. She is a bit of a hippie, harping on her company's lack of ethics, which immediately gets her in trouble. I must say, the first season seems all like set-up with no pay off. If I were watching it on TV, especially if I had to wait the whole year for it to air its second season, I probably wouldn't have continued with it. But I bought both seasons at once, so eight more episodes weren't much of a commitment. And, man, that second season. It goes from a series that was decent but fairly unnotable to something truly special, something remarkably potent. Here is the pay-off in spades. The second season is so emotionally involving, so insightful into the human condition. Amy Jellicoe is a bit of a pill, but you really understand her and I really appreciated a character like her, one who is far less than perfect. The two best episodes of the series have at their center a secondary character. "Higher Power" focuses on Amy's ex-husband, Luke Wilson, as he himself goes to Amy's treatment facility and tries to get clean. Wilson has always been an undervalued actor who is often misused, and he's never been better than in this television episode. In "The Ghost Is Seen," series creator and head writer Mike White (whose directorial debut, Year of the Dog, explored similar themes to this series), who co-stars as Amy's lonely best friend at work, falls in love with Molly Shannon (who starred in Year of the Dog), while he simultaneously betrays her trust. Diane Ladd also co-stars as Amy's mother, and I loved her relationship with her daughter. It was unique in that she's severely disappointed with her daughter and kind of distrusts her.

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NOW that it's starting to get interesting, it ends?

8/10
Author: tlonuqbar from Brazil
26 May 2013

NOW that it's starting to get interesting, it ends? I saw all the first season feeling that I was testing the show each & every episode I saw, since the main character & the tone of the show quite put me off.

The second season I just saw 4 episodes (because all my other series are in a break) but THEN I started to get really interested in the show, because it didn't centred in the anger or anguish that has been the main tone of the main character, but centred on the reality that life is downs but ALSO ups, greed & much needed go back to ethics, TO GIVE proper treatment to people, acknowledgement to the deserving ones...

So myself NOW I would like to see a 3rd season in THIS tone, "we are in a deep S***T reality but it can be improved, it should be improved...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Greenest Show on Tele

6/10
Author: Smhasnb from Pakistan
12 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Imagine, you're in the cleanest and the bluest water in the world, seeing the most vibrant colored fishes in the process. Imagine, you're sitting at the shore on a sunny and pleasant day, in Maldives. You can hear the waves of the ocean giving you the sense of calm. Well, that's how you'll feel when you watch this show. Wow. That sounds like text book Dalai Lama, doesn't it? In all honesty, the show will make you feel that way.

Plot: Fittingly, titled 'Enlightened', this show is about a woman's (supposed/attempted) transformation to a better life. And it's not just limited to her, but in a way, a message to every viewer, to be enlightened. It is a show bubble wrapped in green, environmental friendly feeling. It urges us to look beyond the materialistic world we spend most of our lives chasing after and embrace nature more. As the lead talks about nature, in a scene and says "It was saying, this is all for you and everything is a gift. Even the horrible stuff". After having a nervous breakdown, at a blood sucking corporation, caused by an affair with a married man gone bad, Laura Dern (Amy) is shipped out to Hawaii. There she spends time in a rehab centre for anger management issues. During this time she has an epiphany when she comes across a sea turtle while swimming in the ocean. This alleged epiphany changes her outlook on life and she believes she's been given a new life. She returns to her old life with a different attitude and tries to sprinkle her goody two shoes, puritan spirit on to everyone else. Enlightened will show us Amy's difficulties coming to terms with the real world after her new found perspective keeps getting kicked in the crotch.

Cast: Cast is headed by Laura Dern, who plays Amy, the enlightened protagonist. A veteran of Hollywood with over 30 years of experience, she has pretty much done every role possible in TV and movies. She has an Oscar nomination, a Golden Globe win, among various other wins and nominations. Laura portrays Amy quite remarkably. She shows an extremely wide range of emotions that most actors fail to even come close to. In every scene, Amy is on a roller-coaster of some sort and viewers can expect a big smile on her face with the softest of voices in one scene and screaming top of her lung ready to pull your hair out in the next. Sign of a good actor, I say. An Emmy for Laura is almost certain. (Note: stay away from a person having a nervous breakdown, she can show super strength and stop a moving life with bare hands) Rest of the cast, is half decent, nothing extra-ordinary. We have Luke Wilson, playing Amy's ex-husband, pretty much a typical Luke Wilson character. How many times have we seen him play that nonchalant, dope smoking, obviously single, loser guy? Add one more to the list. The only thing missing in the first 3 episodes is him sitting on the Playstation or Xbox. Nevertheless, he always stays true to his character. We know what he'll give us, and we're okay with it. Diane Ladd, plays Amy's mother, incidentally she is real life mother of Laura. (Trivia: She has played her mother in movies/TV shows 5 times). When Amy returns to her old workplace, she is forced down in the basement. Here she comes across some very diverse and humorous characters. As she calls them circus freaks. Here we see, Timm Sharp, Luke White (the creator of the show), Bayne Gibby among others. Overall, the cast has potential, ample amount of it. But needs time and a lot more dialogues. Funnier, dialogues.

Overall look and feel: The show has a nice calm feel to it, as discussed in the summary. Although I've been a fan of voice-overs, but in this instance, it is a necessity. It feels like you're stuck in a bubble and the wind is blowing you around from one point to the other. The background sounds, music, warm voice of Laura, all do supplement each other to complete the feel of the show. Another interesting thing I noticed was, in every scene you'll see Something green. Maybe HBO took a leaf out of Breaking Bad's book, with their rather successful play with subliminal color coding. But this green has that effect on the viewer. Nicely done.

Conclusion: Enlightened is very intriguing in some regards yet, lacks direction. It is stuck between being a drama about an epiphany and a comedy about a dysfunctional work place. It is truly a dramedy, but, needs a bit more drama and a lot more comedy. I think the creators and writers have to take some concrete decisions to take this show in a certain direction. As of now, its swimming in the open sea and not quite sure which way it wants to swim. That being said, it's a lot better than a handful of other dramedies around (or recently cancelled). When we compare it to other female lead 30 shows like Weeds, Nurse Jackie, The Big C etc it's doing its bit.

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