Staying In(stant): A Show That Tells The Whole Truth

enlightenedPhoto: Courtesy of HBO.
Full disclosure: We love TV. So much so that sometimes we'd rather spend a whole weekend in front of the tube than dancing in da club. Is a lack of television service holding you back from feeling our joy? No problem! You can get by just fine on Netflix, Hulu, and the myriad other streaming services rapidly taking over the home entertainment industry (thank you, Internet!).
Some shows are just better when binge-watched. Whether it's the latest BBC comedy, a PBS miniseries from the '70s, or just that cultish show prematurely scrubbed from a network, we're hooked on the stream. Staying In(stant) is your guide to the best of streaming content. Each week, we bring you a show we're obsessed with and think you should be, too.
This Week: Enlightened, if Julia Roberts' characters in Eat, Pray, Love and Erin Brockovich became one and got a corporate job.
Where To Watch: HBO GO, Amazon
How I Got Hooked: Honestly, "hooked" is a strong word — it's not the easiest show to fall in love with, but it does reward loyal viewers. Laura Dern's character, Amy, is naive, impulsive, and misguided. The series opens with her returning to work at a cosmetics company after an in-office meltdown sent her on exhaustion leave. Only things are not exactly copacetic. Her assistant has replaced her, and she's been relegated to the basement of her business-park tower, where a group of corporate misfits — think the Breakfast Club for adults — are working on a mysterious data-entry project that nobody can explain. It's there Amy, a recent convert to idealism, becomes obsessed with her company's unethical practices and possible malfeasance. Her motives, though, always seem to be about her: Revenge disguised as morality. Ennui confused with complacency. A desire for meaning blown up and out and away.
It quickly becomes apparent that her love for humanity does not always (or even often) translate to a basic respect for her fellow human beings. Without resorting to Walter White depths of bad, she is quite possibly one of the most hard-to-like characters ever to grace the screen. But, I could not ignore her. I wanted to understand her. Was she a DSM-grade narcissist or just that clueless? I needed to know for sure.
Best Episode: The series finale is where it all pays off, where everything that the two short seasons builds up to explodes. And, it's worth it.
Why You'll Love It: It begins as a show about self-reflection, but the big reveal is that it's about your self-reflection. Amy wants to be a hero — and if she exposes this giant corporation for what it is, she will most certainly be. But, as a person, trudging from Monday to Friday and back again, she's a white-hot mess. She's portrayed with an unflinching degree of honesty, which had me vacillating between hating her and hating myself for hating her. Is she a hypocrite? Am I hypocrite? Is she that bad? What do whistleblowers, martyrs, and saints do on their day off? Could it be this?
Enlightened brings up a lot, but by the end, your mind feels a little less judgmental and a lot more open. And, you realize that was the point all along.

More from Movies

As if winning an Oscar wasn't enough, actress Lupita Nyong'o just proved that she has another talent under her belt: freestyle rapping. The 33-year-old ...
There are few movies that just beg to be parodied more than Fifty Shades of Grey. But High School Musical comes pretty darn close. In case you haven't ...
This month, many 15-year-olds are just getting in the back-to-school swing of things. But Auli'i Cravalho's schedule is a little bit different: The teen ...
The 1960s never seemed creepier than in Rose McGowan’s haunting short film, Dawn (2014). McGowan, whose long acting résumé includes roles on TV megahits ...
Growing up is hard to do. Before "adulting" — that is, clumsily impersonating our role models and pretending we have our lives together — became a buzzword...
Every once in a while, a documentary comes out and changes the world. For 2016, 13th is destined to do just that. A film from notable director, ...
For women, Star Wars costumes used to mean one thing: Princess Leia. There were variations within the theme — Danish side-bun Leia, Hoth Leia, gold-bikini-...
As long as Harry Potter fans keep rewatching the beloved movies, they'll keep finding new reasons the series will make you cry. The latest discovery? Harry...
The documentary world can be overwhelming. Think of a topic — broad or obscure — and very likely a movie has probably been made about it. Biographies, ...
Luna Lovegood is one of the most memorable characters from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Later, the eccentric character was brought to life by the ...
Few things bring cinephiles joy quite like spending the weekend holed up in a movie theater, devouring the latest silver screen debuts. Though the biggest ...
There comes a point in every person's life when Netflix just isn't enough. Despite there being countless options on the popular streaming service, ...
Double check the calendar: It's officially fall. The leaves are changing, Halloween is looming, and cuffing season is just around the corner. What does ...
Five months after a controversy formed around the casting of Scarlett Johanssen as a Japanese woman in Ghost in the Shell, the teasers are here. For the ...