• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Oct 10, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2
User Score
6.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 70 out of 99
  2. Negative: 16 out of 99

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  1. Jan 7, 2012
    3
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Where do I start? I'm a few episodes into this, and tend to watch it after American Horror Story for something a bit more uplifting and some balance. Being a comedy/drama I don't see how this is unreasonable, I'd imagine the average viewer is probally trying to get something similar from this. This is where my issues with this series begin. Humour is incredibly sparse, even for an American production. The central string of the story slumps along at a snails pace, which isn't helped by the fact episodes are so short. With hindsight the reason for this is related to my next point. Enlightened is boring! I can't imagine having to sit through 45-60 minutes of this show. All the show seems to do is communicate these messages to us about self discovery and awakening but does so at the total expense of any decent plot or storyline action. Messages are cool but not like this. They just swirl around aimlessly without being bound to something tangible and thats my central problem here because it gives those messages no value. Watching this I assume it's been written by somebody experiencing a mid-life crisis, as a 25-30 year old this doesn't appeal to me at all. Maybe I'm the wrong audience for this, but I just find zero entertainment here. Laura Dern does a fairly good job, but thats to be expected from an actress of her calibre. She is perhaps wasted on this, I'm also not convinced shes totally perfect for the role. I want to be positivewhich is hard here, but underneath all of the bad stuff a real (albeit very slow) storyline does exist, which could be brilliant if it engaged with the viewer better. Perhaps Englightened has been 'over written', but it's hard to tell. Making this show a little more silly, with some light hearted jokes would be a good first step for improvement. Expand
  2. Oct 18, 2011
    9
    Loved it. Laura Dern is pitch perfect as a recovering crazed, spurned bosses' lover who attempts to find deeper meaning in her life through spiritual practice. She's like a blissed out car crash, looking to see God in everything, while still being haunted by her past rage. It's like nothing I've ever seen on TV before, poking fun at some new age rituals, while genuinely shining some light on the path to awareness, OK, Enlightenment. And it's both amusing and poignant. Expand
  3. Oct 16, 2011
    5
    I like dark and dry humor, but this wasn't really funny, just dark and dry. I liked Luke Wilson though, but beyond him, the rest of the characters just seemed forgettable.
  4. Mar 4, 2013
    9
    I stumbled across this show by accident. I knew nothing about it going in. What a rewarding find. Mike White has such a great eye and voice. Hope it gets a third season. It lacks the immediate punch of many of HBO's other shows. But it resonates better than most. I greatly commend Laura Dern too. Amy Jellicoe is a tough role. Dern isn't afraid to play her as a fully realized person, showing all her warts and failings. Good stuff all around. Expand
  5. Feb 23, 2013
    6
    This show started off really well, being very dark and funny, but also quite touching and insiring. I liked the fact that you were'nt quite sure if Amy was still unhinged or not. She seemed very serene but at the same time there was something bubbling under the surface. Then all of a sudden it started to take itself a bit too seriously and seemed to be pushing a moral message about drug use too. The show started to act like it had all the answers. And some of the narrative became cheesy as hell. We forget our sad stories..like yesterdays dreams, or shadows in the lake or whatever blah blah, the humour just evaporated. What gives? Episode 4 just turns rubbish. I'm giving up now. Expand
  6. Jan 27, 2013
    10
    What a great concept. What great writing. What terrific acting. And along the way, some really great directing. Thank heavens Mike White (the writer) and Laura Dern (the out of this world lead and co-creator) put their heads together (I think they are neighbors), took it to HBO, and HBO had the great sense to develop it. Will it make it beyond Season 2? I have my doubts. It is genuinely quirky and well acted, not the ironic self-conscious quirk of Girls, and it has not been as promoted by HBO. So, it's a show you discover by yourself and then become addicted to, in a less fevered way than some others, but addicted nevertheless. How can one love Homeland and love Enlightened, too? I will leave that to greater minds than mine. BTW: one user reviewer seemed upset that the show is classified (is it?) as a comedy. Certainly for awards purposes, it has been. But it is painfully funny in the way life is. Good luck Enlightened. Expand
  7. Jan 2, 2012
    10
    The show takes a while to grow on you, and it requires deep introspection and careful viewing from its audience. A cursory viewing of the show would cause viewers to merely cringe at Dern's psychotic character . After a few episodes and repeated watch of the episodes the characters start shining. Rarely do I ever watch a show for the second time, but the subtle "enlightening" (pun intended) messages embedded in each episodes merits this show a spot on my dvr hard drive. Expand
  8. Oct 23, 2013
    10
    It doesn't surprise me that some people don't find this show funny. I don't find Tosh.0 or Two and a Half Men Funny. People have different tastes.
    I think Enlightened is kind of brilliant. It's a perfect blend of dark comedy, satire, and drama with a socially conscientious flair that is desperately needed in this age. It's a show for the hopeful cynics and idealists with the ability to
    laugh at themselves and the absurdity they see in the world around them. Nate Fisher was annoying in his struggle for meaning and hope too, but at least Amy Jelicoe does something about it and perseveres. Turn Six Feet Under into a half hour comedy about hope in place of death, and you'll come up with something pretty close to Enlightened. Expand
  9. Oct 10, 2011
    6
    This was okay. Laura Dern is fantastic, and her character has a lot of depth, but everything else is flat. The first episode started out very good, but as it went on, it became relatively annoying and not as entertaining. Hopefully it finds itself quickly, because I'm not quite sure what it can do to grow.
  10. Oct 12, 2011
    1
    I watched this attempt at a series and was waiting for something to happen the entire show. I figured it out during the credits when I saw that Dern was writer and producer. It appears she wanted a star power series with all that Ben Harper money but she never was a star.

    A spiritual journey that you should take a pass on because it's a slow road to nowhere with Derns weird mouth and
    limited acting abilities fully evident. Expand
  11. Oct 13, 2011
    6
    Enlightened does start promisingly with some great characters and actors putting in their all. However the show at the moment seems more like a good concept than a fully thought out series. The idea of a show about the rough road to recovery and how to stay healthy once you got there is an intriguing thought and hopefully one this series can discuss but at the moment it tries to hard to be just a comedy. The thing about Enlightened is despite the fact it is sitcom length (20ish minutes) it isn't that funny. Its a great little drama in parts but because its trying to be something its not, it seems to be relying a bit to heavily on cringe humour and shocks when it should be delving more into Laura Dern's psyche which in my opinion is the main draw of the show. This is also evident in Luke Wilsons character who at first glance is an interestingly flawed character who is incredibly interesting but then he does a line of coke and all that mystery/uniqueness to his character is obliterated. Enlightened has the opportunity to really be something great but it needs to stop trying to fit a genre and really play into the unique qualities of the story and the characters. Expand
  12. Oct 11, 2011
    1
    I guess it was okay. Not very funny. Laura Dern is stepping down a level, and the writing doesn't support her character. Needs a major overhaul. I have no idea how this will be a continuous series, as the storyline isn't very broad.
  13. Oct 11, 2011
    4
    WOW. This was average. Not funny at all. Laura Dern is good, but everything else just didn't work. Hopefully it gets better. Because this won't last.
  14. Oct 17, 2011
    1
    this show is really not good, it tries to be something it isnt & doesnt work. Laura Dern does a fine job, but otherwise nothing up to par. I dont see this show last more than this year
  15. Oct 11, 2011
    5
    This was...weak. Laura Dern is way better than this. I hope it improves. It's also not that funny. Take comedy out of its description. HBO needs to retool this.
  16. Oct 11, 2011
    10
    A haunting, pitch perfect dissection of a woman we all know too well...and who we may even be as much as we may not want to. Alarmingly poetic and rapturous. Laura Dern is a national treasure. Mike White is Hemingway redux.
  17. Oct 13, 2011
    10
    This series is a call for those who are tense and trying to keep up with a good life with success but ruining it at the same time...and that's it! What can be more identifiable nowadays in a world full of rational power? This approach to the spiritual subject in the edge between a life lesson and a parody makes it special for me. The humor and the characters are a lot like those of a Todd Solondz film. I love the ending. Watching the last scene in the elevator made me think of a spiritual enlightened direction of the authors. Dern and White should stay as a team for a long time. This is the most comfortable fiction show I've ever seen. Expand
  18. Oct 13, 2011
    8
    It seems to me that many people walked into this with skewed expectations. I never for a moment expected anything remotely sitcom, or LOL funny.

    Yes it is a "comedy"â
  19. Oct 24, 2011
    1
    This is one of the worst shows I have seen on HBO. The Dern character is so unlikeable and pathetic I cringe at her every word. She is "Enlightened" and feels she is on a mission to change the world. The kind of person most people go out of their way to avoid. The supporting characters are one dimensional and annoying as well. I watched two episodes, the second to see if maybe I missed something but it only got worse. Expand
  20. Nov 23, 2011
    10
    The premise is interesting, and it's fun to watch Laura Dern and her real mother interact as daughter and mother, especially since each is such a good actress. The supporting cast is varied and the show has the right mix of humor and pathos and silliness and seriousness; I like the blend and appreciate the fact that it is not mean-spirited. It has a good heart and is not dumbed down either.
  21. Nov 28, 2011
    10
    This is such a funny show. Her charactor is so perfectly crazy and kind of sad at the same time. I love her mom, too. I cant wait untill the next episode.
  22. Dec 15, 2011
    10
    This show is amazing. With the first few episodes I wasn't sure what to make of it, and at that point my boyfriend stopped watching it with me because he "can't handle Amy." Not many people can. The main character is deeply flawed and often annoying. She makes painful social missteps, is completely self-absorbed, either overly friendly or mad as hell, and prone to new-ageisms. So yeah, we all know this woman. Which is one of the most amazing things about this show: that they dared to make a realistically flawed middle aged female. Also, the writing is superb, and the show just gets better as the season progresses. Occupy Abbadon! Expand
  23. Feb 14, 2012
    6
    I applaud this show for being very moral and mature and praise HBO for being a cable network that finally has a show like this. The show is great at intorducing moral issues such a environmentalism & human rights through a woman who tries a little too hard to get other people to help in such causes and usually fail in very comical & dramatic ways. The show has superb acting in its cast members Diane Ladd, Amy Hill, and especially Laura Dern. Although not everyone in the cast are good actors such as Timm Sharp, Sarah Burns, and most of their guest stars while Luke Wilson & Mike White are only decent actors. This show is good but tend to very standoffish that disconnects it from viewers due to its almost all its characters being very cruel, uncaring, and unlikable leaving only the lead character Amy Jellicoe to being the only good character on the show and if the very self centered, condescending, and manipulative Amy is the only good character on this show then it's gotta be very hard to watch this show unless someone do something to the characters to make them more likable and they also have to spruce up the stories/writing in this show too because these stories aren't that interesting they are near drop dead boring so if the writers make the stories better then that along with making the characters actually likable will make this show watchable if not then well kiss this show GOODBYE.â Expand
  24. Dec 30, 2011
    10
    How does one become enlightened in a culture where everything has a price tag, including Amy's $48,000 bill for becoming "enlightened"? Brilliantly written and acted. And, challenging as all good art should be.
  25. Mar 8, 2012
    10
    I truly believe this is a sleeper meaning nobody is talking about it at the water cooler but just give it time Laura is an incredible actress not a fan of her until now. Luke Wilson also plays true to the character awesome writing. I'm more of a shootem up movie guy was bored one day and wham!!!!! im hooked good job guys keep up the good work.
  26. Mar 22, 2013
    9
    This show took me by surprise. I deliberately avoided it initially because I was not a huge Laura Dern fan and I only decided to give it a shot because of the metacritic rating. Well written, excellent performances, critically acclaimed and recognised. Like Boss before it and others another excellent show gets cancelled because it doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator. It deserved another season. Expand
  27. Jan 18, 2013
    1
    Its not funny. Someone tell the writers for this show that a good story requires a protagonist you can root for. This one thinks she is such a great person yet never ever tries to empathize with her co workers, etc.. I just keep thinking, that someone should end her misery.
  28. Jul 25, 2013
    5
    I checked this show out because of the high score from meta users. I watched 5 episodes and found NO enjoyment in it. Plot surrounds a woman who has emotionally imploded and goes to rehab herself. become enlighted, sort of speak. She returns to the community she lived in and struggles to keep herself whole. Good premise but lazily uninteresting. Always seems she is going to go off on people, but really doesn't. Waited and nothing. Self-doubt and constant re-assessment become a central idea to the show and after 5 episodes, i got the idea. Maybe this show is geared for women, but I didn't enjoy it at all. Expand
  29. Jan 6, 2013
    8
    A quirky and mature drama, Enlightened is unique. Quite slow-paced at first, it grows into a fascinating satire of corporate life, full of humor and intelligence.
  30. Mar 4, 2013
    2
    Where do I begin? I have watched every episode in fascination because I can't figure out what the creators are trying to put across. Amy has a severe personality disorder and has no redeeming qualities at all. She treats everyone horribly and has no self awareness. I could rant about the unbelievable situations, but of course many dramas have serious reality gaps. However this show abounds in unreality. To name a few....how did she get her original job in the first place, who in their right mind would have an office fling with her, what kind of company moves a mentally ill person into another job especially in IT! Who paid for Luke's character's rehab in Hawaii. Has there ever been a more isolated person?....without one friend in the world. No, Luke's character doesn't count. Why would Christa's family let Amy within 100 feet of her? What CEO offers a $100,000 job to a person who was kicked downstairs due to obvious and serious flaws? And on and on. But more confusing to me is this. It seems that Amy is the hero, and she's the most unlikable character. Somehow she gets people to do her bidding quite easily. So she's really quite powerful, all while striking the mouth agape pose which I guess signifies her naivete. She seems to lack social skills, but add to that a complete lack of compassion or sensitivity to anyone, her mother, Christa, Tyler, anyone really. So, she's a heartless dork, bumbling successfully through a successful takedown of the company. Her voiceovers about love and light ring so hollow because we never see her bringing love or light to any situation. Are we making fun of whistle blowers and New Age types? Are we supposed to be laughing at people with personality disorders? I am also amazed at how loved this show is. What am I not seeing? I know there is no accounting for tastes, but the only negative reviews I can find are from viewers. I can't find one professional reviewer with negative comments. They all gush. I feel like I'm watching a different show. I love HBO, but I give this show the absolute worst rating in terms of plot, message, character development, and entertainment value. Actually, it entertains me by its flaws as I try to figure out WTF. It's the show I love to hate. What am I missing?? Expand
  31. Mar 15, 2013
    2
    Oh, where do I begin? I have been asked to check the spoiler box if this review contains any spoilers. Given that nothing worth mentioning has happened in Enlightened, it'd be hard to write a spoiler. A woman has a nervous breakdown, and goes to some kind of rehab, and then comes back to her old workplace. She gets shafted and they give her a job in the hope that she moves out. Not bad, right? Yeah, well, that's all that's happened. She just sits around at her desk trying to convince people to support new age crap about meditation, as well as women's groups and other things. This show is so bland it hurts. And who ever called it a comedy-drama? There is more comedy in The Sopranos. There really is. I would have given this show 0, but I feel sorry for Mike White, who has to sit around looking sad all the time, and also because Luke Wilson made me laugh once. This show is crap. Steer well clear. Expand
  32. Apr 7, 2013
    9
    Even as a kid I disliked (I still do) characters on Cinema or TV who the audience was supposed to identify with you know the people next door. I’m the guy who loathes just about every sitcom. I do not have a malevolent view of the Universe but I’m unable to enjoy shows or films which aren’t dark (there is nothing even remotely dark in Enlightened). I remember I had to stop watching Pushing Daisies (a perfectly Ok show) after 1 episode because it had such a feel good vibe about it and the color pallet hurt my eyes literally. To hold my attention you had to be Walter White, a Tony Soprano, Dexter Morgan or a Tyrion Lannister perhaps. I never could get bring myself to like characters combating dilemmas of everyday life. My heroes had to be combating conflicts of Shakespearean proportions and dilemmas Kafkaesque in magnitude.
    Amy Jellicoe is the Heroin in Enlightened. I don’t think I’ve watched on screen anyone else portray someone like Amy the way Laura Dern has. She is such a miserable creature, you mostly hate her or just pity her. I don’t know how else to put it she is a person of such extraordinary mediocrity that it becomes fascinating! A woman so out of tune with the way others perceives her that she doesn’t even realize that her behaviour is intrusive and annoying, people are usually trying to gently let her down, a fact she is oblivious to. A thoroughly unlikeable character, her enthusiasm and positivity is cringe inducing because it’s phony, the interesting bit is that I don’t think even Amy realizes how joyless she really is she goes through the motions of appearing positive, believing that is how she’ll get to a “higher self”. The show isn’t a comedy, I wouldn’t call it a Drama either really because there is no Drama sans conflict the show definitely is not a case study, truth is I’m not really sure what to make of it. I don’t think the creator Mike White is trying to say something, if he is I can’t discern the meaning I just see it as a portrait of a woman, and a remarkably ugly and magnificent one at that. For some reason I was thinking about Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground” while watching this and I remember telling myself this is what she would have sounded like had the narrator in that novel been a woman.
    In one scene Laura’s character tells another that she used to manipulate men with her sexuality earlier but doesn’t do that anymore. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you it was heart breaking to hear her say that, as an audience you realize how pitiful she really is and wish for her own sake it is true.
    Expand
  33. Jun 22, 2013
    4
    A show about a loser who becomes enlightened and keeps losing at life. Season 1 is great if you want to watch someone fail. And fail. And fail. And then fail.

    And fail.

    Season 2 is very good. Skip this one. Go watch that one instead.
  34. Jan 1, 2014
    10
    It appears that HBO have lost the plot and failed to allow the excellent Mike White the opportunity to complete what has been a tremendous first two thirds of a trilogy that deserves to be completed.

    Yes, the ratings were low predictably so because the demographic it actually speaks to is 40+. But SO WHAT?!

    Certain TV shows are 'growers' ones that speak to generations to come
    this could have, no, should have, been one of them. This could have been given re-runs two generations from now: the subject matter eternal.

    Impeccable acting in every department, and a message that should be heard by as many people as possible.

    The cold hard facts for no series three are that despite critical acclaim and Golden Globes to boot, HBO lost their nerve. A once-brave company that sent the most positive of messages to its viewers; namely that entertainment comes in many guises, and that sometimes money ain't everything, have made a big mistake here.

    It's ironic that as I watched the end of series two of Enlightened, my next choice was the episode of the Newsroom were the key protagonists are standing up to Jane Fonda's 'big business' character and arguing for a return to something more ballsier and honest was required. I believe the saying goes something like 'actions speaking louder than words'...

    You still have time, HBO, to turn this around. Re-market to its true audience, let Mike White complete this beautiful piece of art, and tell the whole world why you're doing it. We all make mistakes, and sometimes, it really is that simple.

    Bring back Enlightened.
    Expand
  35. Jan 5, 2014
    8
    This a seriously great show: brilliant writing and acting that slowly works on you. At first I found almost everything about it excruciatingly embarrassing, until I realised I'd fallen into an elegant trap. The main character is brilliantly played and written on the edge(s) of pathos and comedy, repulsion and attraction, self absorption and idealism. And she grows in an unbelievable believable way. An awesome show that rewards you sticking through some uncomfortably cringe worthy moments. Cringing not because the show is bad, but because it's about you, us, in ways that are both embarrassing and uplifting. Expand
  36. Jun 23, 2014
    10
    All I can say is I love it, it is brilliant, Laura Dern is wonderful as usual, the story is excellent and the acting superb. It's very funny, all the actors are top class, especially the actress playing Laura's Mother and Laura's ex. is brilliant as well. I give it 10 out of 10.
  37. Aug 14, 2014
    1
    I wanted to like this...But its a show about a neurotic woman who is trying to keep a semblance of control in her life...She just didn't resonate with me...I was embarrassed for her but didn't like her .... Much like watching someone throw a temper tantrum in public.....I just want to look away..and so I will..
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Oct 24, 2011
    83
    By this third episode, the tone has become open, generous, and alert to every sort of character.
  2. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Oct 19, 2011
    70
    A black comedy working many shades of gray, Enlightened is about dark mornings of the soul and the fool's-golden glow of the new convert, and it measures the weight of the world with an eccentric scale.
  3. Reviewed by: Alessandra Stanley
    Oct 10, 2011
    80
    The series embraces the absurdities of its subject with enough compassion to avoid outright parody.