Enlightened: Laura Dern and Mike White Create a Classic.

Enlightened and Laura Dern.

Having been so thoroughly impressed by “THE WHITE LOTUS” I felt compelled to check out Mike White’s other masterwork for television “ENLIGHTENED” from 2011- 2013. Better than its successor, it stars a pre-Oscar winning Laura Dern (who co-created the series with White) as Amy, a card-carrying liberal from Riverside. She desperately wants to do good in this world but gets sidetracked by some very deep personality flaws. For openers, she is narcissistic and emotionally needy. Difficult to be around, she makes the people in her life miserable. Even in the pilot episode, when she returns, “cured”, from a stint at a New Age commune in Hawaii she is still a mess. Dern is amazing. It’s her best work, on a par with her Oscar turn.

Luke Wilson "Enlightened"

Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, and Mike White.

Kudos too to Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd and Mike White who suffer so convincingly as Amy’s ex-husband, mother, and office co-worker, respectively. Is she the idealist she claims to be? This is a television series where the viewer and the central character are both treated with respect. A parade of great directors from Jonathan Demme to Todd Haynes to Nicole Holofcener to Miguel Arteta to White himself (six episodes) steer us beautifully to the final episode which ends on just the right note.

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