Monday, November 21, 2011
Why Enlightened isn't a good series.
I've seen every episode of Enlightened - seven episodes so far - and I think I'm finally done with the show. There are so many fundamental problems with it that I can't pretend that those problems don't exist. My issues with the show are mostly:
1) Pretty much nothing happens.
It's not exactly that I'm not a fan of plot-free shows. Storytelling is hard and if there's no recognizable story, it means that the writers are simply cutting corners. There's no excuse not to have a compelling tale to tell.
In this case the lack of story and the lack of interesting characters is probably a result of the writers falling in love with their own nonsense.
They thought that since the show is about enlightenment, just about any random feeling or experience would constitute as a story. After all, we happen to live in a postmodern world where every thought is supposedly equally valuable.
2) I don't give a damn about the main character.
It's not always necessary for the protagonist to be likeable but there's a difference between being unlikeable and being completely pathetic. What were they thinking when they decided to make the protagonist a cheater who's also ignorant, arrogant and has no social skills?
I have to be honest here - if I knew in real life someone like Laura Dern's character, I would stay as far away as possible from that person.
3) The show doesn't know what it's about (lacks self-awareness and doesn't have a point).
Watching Enlightened makes me miss those Charlie Sheen interviews all the more. After all, earlier this year this 'train-wreck' managed to be self-aware, funny and consistently made great points about life. Enlightened hasn't managed to make a single good point about anything. (unless of course copy-pasting Zen literature counts)
4) Nature unintentionally trumps everything else.
One of the things that I actually have liked about Enlightened have been the lovely scenes that involve nature. That's where the 'enlightening' part of the show is.
It's just that once we get back to normal scenes it becomes evident that the scenes about the nature are much more interesting than the actual characters. There's no balance between nature and the man and it's something that weighs the show down even more.
5) A show about enlightenment needs enlightened writers.
The problem is that very few - if any of us are actually enlightened. Anyone who decides to create a show about the meaning of life is setting the bar pretty damn high and that person had better provide some answers.
That's why I would never take on a project like Enlightened myself. I don't think I'd have answers. At least I couldn't give you answers without telling a good story.
Unfortunately, there's no story here and that's why Enlightened is not a good series.