Last night HBO dropped the hammer on Enlightened — the Mike White-created series starring Laura Dern as a woman trying to piece her life back together after suffering a nervous breakdown at work. The show was lauded by many critics but its ratings were dismal and it never seemed to generate the chatter/buzz online that a show with low ratings needs if it has any hopes of surviving.
Here’s what Alan Sepinwall wrote today in his obituary for the show.
That “Enlightened” got a second season was something of a surprise, even by the standards of HBO. The ratings for the first season — the latest in the pay cable channel’s failed attempts to colonize Monday nights — were tiny, and the lowest of a number of little-viewed half-hour series that HBO was airing at the time. The other three in danger — “Hung,” “How to Make It in America” and fellow Monday exile “Bored to Death” — were all canceled, but HBO decided to give White’s difficult, fascinating creation a renewal.
They were rewarded with a second season that was even better than the first, and one that received even more plaudits, whether from critics who loved it from the beginning or curmudgeons like me who were slow to come around to exactly what White was doing. We still have 3/4 of the year to go, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if “Enlightened” winds up not only in many TV critic Top 10s, but in a number of notable Top 5s.
With that said, an uproar broke out on the internet last night when it was announced that Enlightened was being cancelled and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. There are already calls for a Kickstarter campaign to fund its revival being made and a few people all of us around here respect a lot are rallying to its defense, people like this guy…
Seriously, internet? You guys were batsh*t crazy about Enlightened all this time and we barely knew about it? All of us around here pride ourselves in knowing good television — in addition to knowing what the internet collectively thinks is good television — and I think I can safely speak for Danger, Dustin, Josh and Kris when I say that Enlightened just never grabbed us. The chatter that’s sprung up after the show’s death simply didn’t exist when it was alive and those of us on staff who did invest the time to watch it came away unimpressed. Here’s how Dustin put it in an email thread about the show’s cacellation from earlier today…
…this is all you need to know about Enlightened: It wasn’t a very good show. Many of us tried to love it. Three or four very vocal TV critics (specifically, @tvoti at The AV Club) kept celebrating the show, so many of us went back and gave it another shot because we felt like we were missing something, only we discovered that it STILL wasn’t very good, and then we felt dumb because we didn’t understand what was so good about it.
Laura Dern’s character is seriously one of the most annoying, grating characters in all of television. Mike White is awesome. His show was not.
Oh well. Look at the bright side, Enlightened fans: HBO will continue to give you heaping helpings of Girls! So there’s THAT! (Runs away, ducks under a desk to hide.)