Why a Third Season of ‘Enlightened’ Would Be More Relevant Than Ever
HBO’s critically-acclaimed dark comedy Enlightened ended in 2013, but in this current era of reboots and revivals, why not revisit the Laura Dern-starring masterpiece?
The show, which premiered in 2011, followed executive Amy Jellicoe (Dern) as she returns to work after a nervous breakdown, determined to bring justice to the company that discriminated against her mental illness. With a star-studded cast including Luke Wilson, Jason Mantzoukas, Robin Wright, Molly Shannon, Dermot Mulroney, and screen icon and Dern’s real life mother, Diane Ladd, the series had a dedicated fanbase, and was named one of the top shows of the year by TIME. Dern won a Golden Globe for her role, and co-created the series with writer and co-star Mike White.
Enlightened‘s themes resonate even more so today. “The idea was to make it and then we’d all wake up and we’d see our cultural apathy,” Dern said during her acceptance of the inaugural Honorary Degree at the Vulture Festival this month. “This sort of character came to mind when I was working on a film about the recount [Recount, 2008] and I was like ‘no one is getting in the streets? No one is irate? What is happening? Where is our determination, our marching fighter spirit?'”
Dern described her character Amy as someone who “burns all bridges and becomes a whistleblower at all costs.” Even though Amy can be viewed by some as an “ugly” character, Dern explained, Amy’s determination and passion is what made her stronger. “She may be complicated at home but she will get in the face of corporate American and say ‘no more. I’m exposing you.’ And now, this year, this moment, everywhere I go people are bringing it up: ‘oh my god, I just found Enlightened…We are all Amy.'”
A third season of Enlightened could even tackle new issues and corporations. “There’s still Big Food and Big Pharma, and soon Big Water,” Dern said. “They’re out there. I think that’s why Enlightened is a good fever pitch way to go when I’m feeling like [Amy], which I do all the time.”
While Enlightened struggled in the ratings during its time, today’s analytics for viewership would allow for the series to thrive with a newfound audience. “The bummer was we got canceled based on live ratings because that’s the way we measured TV, and a year later we were measuring TiVo ratings,” Dern reminisced. “And now luckily all of it is in the algorithm.”
Co-creator White previously discussed revisiting Enlightened last year, as well. “I actually feel like we could do that maybe,” White told Entertainment Weekly. “But I don’t know. There was a lot of pain with the ending. It’s like going into an old relationship where you’re like…let’s do something new.”
Dern still holds out hope for another season. “We’ve talked about it,” she teased. “Mike and I’s fantasy was always three seasons and we only did two so there was a real mapped-out third place to go.”
Where’s the petition for a third season?