Nobody Loves Amy

December 7, 2011

The year’s most appealingly tragicomic series is about to end its rookie season. “Enlightened” (HBO, Mondays, 9:30 p.m.) is a portrait of a mad corporate slave. Amy Jellicoe (the incomparable Laura Dern, above) threatens to kill her ex-lover at a soul-sucking health conglomerate, blaming him for her transfer to a less glamorous job. Hawaiian rehab restores her sanit— or does it? Back at work and eager to be an “agent of change,” she is always late, she pursues personal do-gooder projects on company time, and she relentlessly chats up colleagues who think she’s crazy.

Amy’s private life is equally messy. She’s moved in with Mom (Dern’s real-life mother, Diane Ladd), queen of the withering comment: “You look awful. Are you going to go to work like that?” And she reconnects with her drug-using ex (laid-back Luke Wilson).

Monday’s finale has a typical mix of sly humor, oppressive earnestness and frustrating irresolution — and another extraordinary performance by Dern, who can turn ravishing or careworn, spiritual or sensual, with a mere glance.

Ratings have been OK, but no decision’s been made about the show’s future. HBO: Enlighten us with more!

 

Marc Silver has been watching TV since the days when people wrapped aluminum foil around TV antennae to improve reception.
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Fiona Zublin · December 7, 2011