Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why the Golden Age of TV is Now, February 18, 2013
This review is from: Enlightened: Season 1 (DVD)
Its been argued that the we're living in the Golden Age of TV. Laura Dern's "Enlightened" certainly is part of it.

My first reaction to the first couple of episodes of this show is that it provided too many juicy opportunities to pass up for easy scorn and scoffing at LA-LA-Land New Age style faux-progressivism and middle class neurosis of the sort first identified by the old New Left theorists over four decades ago (think Herbert Marcuse and Guy Debord). And so it does. The main character played by Dern is such a cliche of these patterns that she could be taken for a mistrel show rendering of them. Dern's performance is masterful in everything from the grating empathy of her Vally Girl vocal patterns to the contorted expressions of deep concern for others' sufferings evident in her ever-twisted face. Her passion for self-help, positive thinking books and grandiose plans to save the planet by changing from within the culture of the trans-national consumer products corporation for which she works adds to the hilarity of her New Age enlightenment. To say nothing to the bill presented by her Hawaiian asrham for its priceless contribution to that enlightenment equivalent to a year's tuition at Harvard.

It nonetheless becomes clear in "Enlightenment" that the profound shallowness of the culture and approach the main character takes to her own and the world's problems are the only tools she has for beginning to grapple with them. She (and we) really are trapped in a ruthless and irresponsible global capitalist world order, against which any effective push-back is increasingly difficult. That the most intimate personal relationships in this kind of world fracture under the pressures of ambition, despair and disappointment. And that trying to make even small changes to make this Brave New World more humane can make one seem (and even actually become!) maladjusted to the point of insanity. The brilliance of "Enlightened" is its engagement and expose of this world in a comic and real way that is never overly polemical, heavy-handed or didactic. It's one of the best things on TV in recent years, and one example of why we live in the Golden Age of television.
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J. Lewis
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