January 14, 2014

Enlightened (Season 1)

Laura Dern & Mike White, 2011
Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) has a mental breakdown at her workplace. She admits herself into a retreat in Hawaii and comes back as what she feels is a changed woman and she is eager to get her life back on track.

Witty writing and solid acting just emanates from this television dramedy that's produced by Laura Dern and Mike White. It feels like a role perfectly crafted for Dern to play. She's unpredictable, slightly vengeful, a bit narcissistic, but ultimately a sympathetic character. There's a certain warmth in her core, and a magnetism to Amy. In a sense she feels that the people around her have wronged her, and she is trying her best to move forward while also trying to maintain a certain level of forgiveness. Little does she know that her absence from her work at Abaddonn Industries comes celebrated by many. And when she returns from her retreat, she has a smile pasted on her face and she is full of talk of energy and crystals. But she obviously hasn't gotten to the root of it all. She sort of becomes this pseudo-hippie who under the guise of spirituality and nature imagery is able to put her anger behind her. But it's not behind her. It's still inside of her, just contained. For the moment. You get a sense at times that she's hanging on by a thread. She's focused on herself for a short period, but she still hasn't done the real work. And like a self-destructive addict, she starts to venture onto old paths with old people in her life. She reconnects with her druggy ex-husband, she moves back in with her mother who obviously did a number on her, and she goes knocking on the door of her former workplace where she had the meltdown in the first place. But there's something to it all. In a way you are rooting for Amy to succeed. And that success can come in different flavors. You want her boss and vindictive co-workers to get their come-comeuppance. But what if they don't? You want her to reconcile the differences she has with her reclusive mother. But what if she doesn't? There's a certain curiosity there, and that is what fuels this great series. 

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