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This HBO series' first installment is a delirious dramatic nightmare - and I'm pretty sure it's amazing....
HBO / 300 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: January 8, 2013
In typical Mike White fashion, Enlightened: The Complete First Season works because he and his collaborators aren't afraid to put his characters through hell. Look at nightmares like Chuck and Buck or The Good Girl: these aren't happy-go-lucky features (though they're often laugh-out-loud funny) - no, these are snapshots of lives gone astray, of people thinking they're being decent citizens but who are really just as flawed and often hateful as their 'enemies'.
In Enlightened, our figurehead is Amy Jellicoe (played by the inimitable Laura Dern), and when we meet her, she loses her mind. In front of her colleagues and co-workers, Amy finally succumbs to the pressures of her failed marriage (to Levi, played by Luke Wilson), her lack of money, her aimlessness both in her personal and professional lives: she has a breakdown. But then she spends some time at an ornate clinic in Hawaii and returns to Los Angeles ready to start anew.
This is where Enlightened gets good. White refuses to lend any sort of Deepak Chopra calmness to Amy's return to the world - Amy returns from detox to a time and place that pretty much rejects her across the board. No job, no money, no house (she is forced to move in with her mom - both on the show and in real life - Diane Ladd): Amy is persona non grata in the halls she used to roam, and her coming to terms with this is where Enlightened finds its brittle, fragile heart.