HBO has been fantastic over the years at launching successful dramas but hasn’t had a lot of luck with half-hour shows, outside of the success of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Entourage.” Nevertheless, the network has been generous over the last few years to “How to Make It in America” and “Bored to Death,” continuing to pay to produce episodes despite little ratings success. “Hung,” the Thomas Jane dramedy about a male prostitute with a very large penis, found early success, but faded last season, and “Bored to Death” had never built much of an audience to begin with, despite the presence of Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson, and Jason Schwartzman. I’d elaborate on the many reasons “Bored to Death” kind of blew, but it tends to bring out a very vocal, very self-righteous Jason Schwartzman fan base which, like Joe Rogan’s following, is something you don’t even know exists until you bad mouth something with which they’re involved.
At any rate, HBO has mercifully canceled all three “comedy” series, but in a somewhat surprising move, renewed the lowest rated of their comedies, Mike White’s “Enlightened” starring Laura Dern. Granted, Laura Dern did receive a Golden Globe nomination for her role in “Enlightened” (as did Thomas Jane for his in “Hung”), but it’s still something of a mystery why HBO would renew the most unpleasant-to-watch show on cable. I’ll concede that it’s the desired effect of “Enlightened” — to make us hate Laura Dern’s unsympathetic character and wallow in her narcissism — but I’m at a loss to explain why anyone would want to watch it besides self-hating critics.
I will miss pot-smoking Ted Danson, though. He’s brilliant.