DVD review: 'Enlightened' — The Complete First Season

The first episode of the first season of “Enlightened” doesn't begin promisingly for executive Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) when work pressures and her self-destructive nature trigger her humiliating nervous breakdown.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Entertainment Editor etriplett@opubco.com Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:20 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013
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‘Enlightened' — The Complete First Season

The first episode of the first season of “Enlightened” doesn't begin promisingly for ambitious corporate executive Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) when work pressures and her own self-destructive nature trigger her very public and humiliating nervous breakdown. But that's where the allure of the HBO comedy-drama called “Enlightened” begins, as the audience is hooked on learning how — or even if — the emotionally fragile/volatile Amy can make a comeback in her personal and working lives in spite of her treacherous former boss and ex-lover Damon (Charles Esten), her flaky, foul-mouthed new boss Dougie (Timm Sharp), and her disapproving mother Helen (Dern's real-life mother, Diane Ladd).

Dern won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy for this series that achieves a tricky balance between laughs, pathos and sharp drama as we follow her character's journey back into her fractured life after being “enlightened” during an extended stay at a holistic treatment center in Hawaii.

Amy is determined to be a positive “agent of change” in the world — even when her company takes her back in a menial data services job — but her newfound noble intentions become a source of alarm for almost everyone around her, especially when she begins to uncover evidence of corporate abuse and corruption.

The show was created and is co-executive produced by Dern and Mike White (“School of Rock,” “Nacho Libre”), who occasionally directs, writes and co-stars as Amy's deceptively meek co-worker Tyler.

The uniformly solid supporting players also include Luke Wilson as Amy's drug-addicted ex-husband Levi; Sarah Burns as Krista, the seemingly sweet former assistant who has taken over Amy's old job; and Amy Hill as Judy, the stern human resources rep who won't give Amy a break. The second season premiered this week on HBO, and the first episode can be seen on HBO On Demand and HBO GO. New episodes air at 8:30 p.m. each Sunday.

— Gene Triplett



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