Culture / TV

If you’re loving ‘The White Lotus’, you have to watch Mike White’s earlier series, ‘Enlightened’, starring Laura Dern

Enlightened series

If you are one of the many fellow Australians hiding from the winter chill right now, you would have undoubtedly come across the new HBO series, The White Lotus. The chaotic, but nonetheless intriguing series based on the premise of second-hand embarrassment has been flooding news feeds and group chats since it first premiered. And while it's easy to get caught up in director Mike White's latest work; his earlier series, Enlightened, is not to be ignored.

Whether for the stellar cast – yes, Laura Dern is the leading lady here – or for the series' fierce message of compassion and desire to be a better person; the show is a must-watch on your winter viewing list. And if you're already loving The White Lotus for it's borderline embarrassing dark humour, you're certain to love this.


What is Enlightened about?

Enlightened is a series about Amy Jellicoe (portrayed by Dern); an executive who, after suffering a nervous breakdown at work, goes away to a holistic rehab retreat in Hawaii. Upon returning to her fiction company, Abaddon Industries, with a 'better mindset', she realises she has been demoted – majorly.

Trading in her personal office for an open-plan-situated desk in the basement; Jellicoe begins to consider the possibility of becoming a whistleblower. Alongside her fellow, and equally frustrated misfit co-workers – which, happens to include Tyler (who was played by White).

The most intriguing part about Dern's character is her undeniably human desire to be a good person. The setting is almost startlingly unglamorous – think horrible office fluorescent lighting – which enhances the feeling of authenticity the show hopes to convey. It may also be, in part, due to the fact that Enlightened was partially inspired by White's own experiences.


The series comes from the same director behind The White Lotus.

As we already know, Enlightened is almost a prerequisite to White's current series, The White Lotus. In addition to Dern starring in the series, she also co-created the show with White. Although, she wasn't the only noteworthy face to star. Dianne Ladd, Dern's real-life mother portrayed her mum in the series, and Luke Wilson plays her ex-husband, Levi. In addition, there are also appearances from Jason Mantzoukas, Michaela Watkins, Molly Shannon, and Dermot Mulroney.

It wouldn't be a far cry to say that Enlightened was one of the most underrated series of the last decade.


How many seasons of Enlightened are there and where can I watch them?

There were only two series of Enlightened that aired on HBO between 2011 and 2012, but if you haven't yet watched the show, you can still catch it on streaming platform, BINGE. Here's the trailer from the first series to help set the tone.


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