So let's do this thing! First post of 2012. And what better way to do it then starting out with a most excellent HBO show all about second chances and finding the strength the change your own life. I'm talking about Enlightened, a show that I hadn't heard too much about when it aired, but now that the first season is over and award-season is starting, it seems to be generating a fair amount of buzz.
Here's the official description from HBO:
Amy (Laura Dern) is a self-destructive health and beauty executive who has a very public workplace meltdown. After three months of contemplation and meditation at a treatment center in Hawaii, Amy returns rested and ready to pick up the pieces of her old life and reshape the world she left behind. That includes delivering well-meaning, but generally unwanted advice to her mother Helen (Diane Ladd), with whom Amy is now living; her slacker ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) whose only solace comes from recreational drugs; and the crew of awkward co-workers Amy finds herself reassigned to. The series follows Amy as she navigates an unconventional path between who she is, who she wants to be...and what everyone is willing to tolerate from her.The "meltdown" in question is more of a psychotic break, but has the distinction of being hilarious, horrifying, and yet realistic all at once. This is the kind of thing that it's difficult to come back from, after all, yelling "I will kill you, you motherfucker!" at your boss is not the greatest strategy for career-advancement.
Girl, we've all been there. Well, not literally there, but we've all felt like we've been there.
My main concern was that when Amy came back from her spiritual retreat she would be a stereotypical hippie asshole. You know, the kind that looks down on everyone around them who isn't as spiritually awake and is totally judgey. But Amy's not like that all--she's just trying to make her way in a world that expects her to go batshit crazy at any moment.
The central arc of the show is whether it's actually possible to find spiritual peace living in our bullshit corporate world. Sure, it's easy to be one with the earth and your feelings while sitting on a deserted beach in Hawaii, but when you need to go back and meet with Human Resources at your giant company, can you maintain that serenity? And there's enough cracks in Amy that you see her struggle to maintain her cool. Sure, she sometimes loses it, but those are the most real moments.
I'm about halfway through the first season and so far I am loving the show and am super impressed with Laura Dern. Other than her role in Jurassic Park, there's not much she's done that's been on my radar, but this role (which she helped create) is something really special for her. Amy is a very flawed protagonist, but darn it, you can't help but root for her. Don't we all dream about becoming the best possible version of ourselves? It's not a question of whether Dern will be nominated come awards time, only whether it will be in the drama or comedy category. Personally, I think the show is more of a drama; the humor is more of the "pointing out the foibles of normal life" variety rather than "oops I fell off my chair."
If you've got HBO, you can catch Enlightened on On Demand, and it's Netflix and DVD releases are pending.
Happy New Year, and maybe this show can help you keep those resolutions.
Apparently spiritual retreats are great for your hair. Sign me up! I can kumbaya with the best of them.