One year ago today, we lost a dear friend in Amy Jellicoe. Amy was 40 when she returned from a California holistic-treatment facility that provided a vital spiritual awakening after the mega-meltdown she'd had at work. A few of us invited Amy into our homes, watching her newfound fulfillment grow even as she struggled to shed lingering resentment toward the cards life dealt her. Then, just as we applauded her for blowing the whistle on corporate abuse within her decidedly unenlightened company, Abaddon Industries, she became homeless. An inevitable demise followed.
So it went with HBO's "Enlightened," the Laura Dern-fronted dramedy that concluded its second season on March 3, 2013. The show should have had a long shelf life, but two weeks later, it joined the accumulation of prematurely canceled series. The show's small but passionate viewership was devastated. It first premiered to much acclaim, but Season 2's reception was even more magnanimous. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker wrote called it "extraordinarily good: funny and moving and constantly surprising." The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan labeled it "a work of precision craftsmanship." And it was TIME's James Poniewozik who perhaps framed it most fittingly: "HBO has the best thing TV is doing right now --a show no other network would probably make, telling a story that the movies couldn't tell, not at such length and depth. ... HBO doesn't owe it to us to keep 'Enlightened' on the air; HBO owes it to itself."
How can a show with reviews this flattering bite the dust after a measly two seasons? Dern won a Golden Globe for the first season and garnered an Emmy nomination for the second, but that wasn't enough to amplify the show's viewership, which averaged 200,000 to 300,000 per episode. Those figures are paltry, even for a premium cable channel that relies on subscriptions. (The show's second season retained only a third of its lead-in audience from "Girls.") But its fan base remains voracious -- many suggested a Kickstarter campaign to revive "Enlightened" when news of the cancellation first broke -- and we know there's life yet to be had for the show. We may never know how many more eyeballs have discovered it through DVDs and HBO GO, but that's no matter: It's time for Netflix to give some serious consideration to breathing the soul back into Amy Jellicoe.
Creator and co-star Mike White has said the third season would center on Amy's legal battles with Abaddon now that she's brought the company's hierarchical corruption to light via a Los Angeles Times exposé. Considering how riveting Season 2 was -- the perfect blend of human drama and workplace hilarity -- imagine watching Amy cross swords with the corporate miscreants who once mocked her environmental crusade. Knowing Amy frequently misjudges her own words, watching her go to battle with a group of wealthy executives who abhor her (and possibly win the lawsuit) would be enchanting television as well as the conclusion long-standing fans deserve.
So what's Netflix's stake here? In addition to having been a bastion for last year's splashy "Arrested Development" revival and the upcoming final season it ordered for AMC's "The Killing," the streaming service, by never revealing ratings, has developed the first landscape that doesn't equate success with numbers. Almost every major piece of Netflix original content -- "House of Cards," "Orange is the New Black," "Hemlock Grove," "Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive," "Mitt," etc. -- becomes event television because the buzz behind it feels so fresh. As of a mid-February, Netflix reported 5 million more subscribers than the 42-year-old HBO. Resuscitating a show with A-list stars (Dern is joined by Luke Wilson, Diane Ladd, Molly Shannon, Dermot Mulroney and Michaela Watkins) and a half-hour format that's easy to engage with is no tall order given Netflix's glossy programming, and because the Internet buzz surrounding the service's entities gives everything the impression of popularity, Netflix can bridge a gap with its ostensible competitor and attract a legion of fans who will tune in to see the beloved dramedy's continuation.
Of course, that would all require Netflix and HBO to put aside the jabs its executives have thrown at each other recently. It would also require HBO to lease its content to an external service -- something it's notoriously reluctant to do. (While we're at it, don't "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos" seem like mandatory additions to the Netflix library?) But this would set a new precedent: out, more or less, with the fatuous wars and in with the subscription services' amplified presence across platforms. It's a healthy brand choice for HBO, and one that needs to happen pronto, while the "Enlightened" actors are young enough to rekindle the storylines.
With this, I beseech the Netflix gods: Please shed at least one more light on Amy as she bungles her way through the corporate bloodshed we desperately wanted to witness. Like many critics have asserted, "Enlightened" was further proof of the great television apex we've been applauding for a few years. Don't squander something that advances the cause. Like Amy Jellicoe, we're on a crusade for television enlightenment. Bring this show back.
Still not convinced we need an "Enlightened" revival? Here are eight reasons concocted by HuffPost TV critic Maureen Ryan just days before the show was canceled.
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