A New Simple Pleasure: HBO’s Enlightened

My newest simple pleasure is the new HBO series Enlightened.  Laura Dern stars as the irrepressible Amy Jellicoe, a self-destructive, forty-something executive whose less-than-stellar life choices and big-time office meltdown leave her with no place to go but up.  After spending time meditating and re-thinking life, Amy comes back from a Hawaiian treatment center ready to take on life, and the world, armed with her new Zen perspective.

Unfortunately, the challenging and messy world she retreated from is still there to greet her: the less-than-affectionate mother with whom she lives, the ex-husband who relies on recreational drug use to see him through each day, and the coworkers who now avoid her like the Bubonic plague.  Oh, and the new group of geeky coworkers with whom she shares a dungeon-like basement office.  And yet, Amy will not be held back.  She really wants to change her life, to better herself and make the world a better place.  In every episode it seems there is always someone or something bent on crushing her spirit or her efforts, and yet there is Amy, temporarily down but not out.  Not by a long shot.

That’s what I like about Enlightened.  In some ways it’s a hard show for me to watch.  I cringe at Amy’s flighty, immature, and sometimes irresponsible behavior.  I feel like shouting at her, “Snap out of it!”.  In a lot of ways, Amy is a dreamer and a little self-absorbed.  For example, she’ll leave work throughout the day to pursue personal goals, however well-meaning.  Or she’ll book a trip when she’s in debt over her head.  I want to shake her and tell her to grow up, already!

But that’s when you see that she’s just like any of us, trying to cope with day-to-day stresses and trying to find her place in the world, as much as she’s trying to find her purpose in life.  In a recent episode, she looks at people around her, and in her quest to relate to each one she recites this mantra to herself: “You are my mother.”  While it’s a little embarrassing, I have to say that I can relate to that.  I cringe and laugh at the same time, because she could be me trying to find a way to understand my experiences and the people I encounter on my own life’s journey.

Amy, in so many ways, is a messy character.  But for all that messiness what comes across clearest is her humanity and the sincerity of her desire to find herself and to find her way.  And that’s just what I like best about Enlightened.  It’s real and engaging and so easy to embrace.  Laura Dern and the cast are simply a pleasure to watch. 🙂

To learn more about the series and to find it’s scheduled program times, here is a link:  HBO series – Enlightened

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