Really look forward to the new season. While I enjoyed Amy's life at Abaddon, which according to the trailer seems to be the main focus of season 2, I hope Amy's mom and Levi are still very much in the picture.
“Enlightened”: Season Two (* * * * stars out of four)
by Daniel Goldberg on January 8, 2013
The hero of most American stories is usually an underdog who's been cast off from society as a result of his or her nonconformist behavior and attitude. “Enlightened” reverses that axiom, positing that corporate lackey Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) refuses to conform mainly as a result of being cast off. The message is considerably more radical, but no less inspiring: Each time Amy's co-workers upstairs ostracize her, they're transforming a so-called "nobody" into a revolutionary. The question that consumes the second season, in which Amy takes on Abaddon Industries's heinous exploitation of labor and the environment, is whether her uprising can truly be enlightened even as it remains rooted in her own abjection.
Amy's attempts to appear relaxed and spontaneous are theatrical to the point where they offend those around her; she violates the social code by inadvertently exposing its artifice. When she leaves a voicemail message for a journalist (Dermot Mulroney) who she hopes will expose Abaddon's corruption, every pause and slurred phrase is performed with consummate musicality. He co-worker, Tyler (Mike White), remarks, "Good message," the implication being that voicemails aren't supposed to merit such a compliment. Wry observations like these hinge on Dern's intricate performance, and she subtly challenges us every step of the way to revise and reconsider our take on Amy's heroism; the series would be exhausting were it not for its 30-minute format.
Whereas Tyler acknowledges and thereby diffuses Amy's social missteps, much of the "shunning" that takes place in the series stems from others' attempts to save face for Amy by casually ignoring her. A great deal of what Amy finds intolerable about Abaddon Industries is fairly common to most work environments—perhaps even to all social situations. It's Amy's thin skin—her boredom, interpersonal insecurity, and resentment at being downgraded to her current position—that provokes her to take unprecedented action in the political sphere by hacking into private company emails, which gets especially serious when she's enlisted by Mulroney's journo to find evidence of CEOs bribing elected officials. Her allies are similarly triggered by such social slights: Tyler is demeaningly called an "albino" by a co-worker, while the hairstyle of Amy's boss, Dougie (Timm Sharp), is mocked in company emails. Both seek vengeance in their participation in Amy's idealistic quest, and despite the fact that the only thing that sets her apart from them is her faith in her own moral goodness, she tolerates their petty motives because she requires their computer-hacking skills.
The virtue of Amy's mission isn't just complicated by her need for vengeance; her desire to climb the social ladder is equally problematic given her populist posturing. Her attempts to ingratiate herself into activist circles are embarrassing on the most visceral level: She flatters whoever she believes to be a person of import, but in so doing reveals how poorly she grasps their role in current affairs. She insists via narration, "I will be welcomed. This will be my home." Worse still, when a server at an upscale party hosted by the liberal elite recognizes Amy from his job at Chili's, Amy shuns him the same way she herself has been shunned. The second season doesn't leave many threads hanging to warrant a continuation of the story, but if Amy has simply traded one petty pecking order for another, as seems to be the case, we'll certainly have more righteous outbursts to look forward to.
The thrust of Amy's critique of corporate America has little to do with unfair tax codes or unsustainable environmental policies. "We give them the best years of our lives," she opines, filled with zest for a life of beauty and substance; her critique is spiritual more often than it is policy-driven. Only when Dougie's department gets shut down and he and his workers are forced out of the office does the series make a modest attempt at political theory. When Dougie remarks to Amy that she's the worst employee he's ever had, she responds that he's the worst employer she's ever had, and the two make plans to "hang out sometime." It might not be what anarchist Emma Goldman had in mind, but in series creators Dern and White's world, such are the consequences of dismantling hierarchical authority. That “Enlightened”'s propagandist and activist message is tinged with irony only makes it more perfectly tooled to our times.
Episode 2x01: "The Key" Fearing her job is about to be eliminated, Amy contacts an investigative reporter in the Season 2 premiere when she uses Tyler's IT password to compile a trove of incriminating e-mails from Abaddonn executives that could bring the company down.
Loved the first episode. With her plan in motion, the episode didn't waste any time getting to business. It definitely has a slightly different feel now that it's more serialized in nature, but I look forward to seeing how things progress.
I think the people at cogentiva are going to join forces with Amy. It seemed to be hinted at when so many of her co-workers noticed her conspicious behavior with Tyler. Can't wait to see how it unfolds.
Laura Dern is truly amazing in this role. I feel like she knows this character inside out.
And wasn't Nicole Holofcener's direction of this episode just exquisite? Beautiful.
This show is amazing. I watched all 11 episodes in six hours. Amy is so crazy and I love her for it. Im so rooting for Amy and Tyler. The show is taking on a darker tone. It is getting more serious to me. This is my favorite show of last year. Im pissed that we only get eight episodes this season.
This was a good start to the season. Laura Dern is fascinating in this role, and I'd agree that she knows Amy Jellicoe inside and out (she should since she helped envision the character). I'm glad that this season has more of a serialized feel to it, which is likely for the best due to the short episode order (and I'm guessing final season). Amy needs some allies for the next phase of things. That's one thing I found sort of dire about last season with Amy always being against the world alone. She's so motivated and self-absorbed, and as frustrating as that is to watch sometimes, it's a credit to Dern that she's as committed to this unsympathetic role as she is. It looks like Dermot Mulroney could have a good arc here too. I'm looking forward to getting Luke Wilson back on soon, and I hope there's time for some solid screentime for Diane Ladd. Mike White made a strong impression this episode as well. His writing is already a standout, but now I see more of his character shining through opposite Dern, which I like.
Synopsis: Amy is energized by Jeff's revelation of bribery allegations involving Abbaddon's CEO, but panics when a security breach on the company's computers could leave her exposed; Krista winds up in the hospital with pregnancy complications; Tyler has to find a way to cover up Amy's tracks.
A slow and beautiful start. Love the directing here (sophisticated and subtle) and the poetic writing for Amy's VOs. I am hoping w/"Girls" being its lead in, more people will end up checking this out. It's the mature equivelent to that show, while still having the spirit of artistry and being unique. Glad HBO gave this a chance.