Quirky, mature drama about a woman in transition.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show is built around the concept of positive change, but subtly suggests that it's impossible -- or at least an uphill battle.

Positive role models

Although the "old" Amy was undeniably negative -- unstable, desperate, and self-destructive -- the "new" Amy sincerely wants to change and be an agent of positive change for others. But her intentions don't always match her actions.

Not applicable

The main character had an affair with a married co-worker.


Unbleeped language includes "f--k," "motherf--ker," "c--t," and "bulls--t." Other audible terms like "retard," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A secondary character uses cocaine and talks about other recreational drugs. Some social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adult drama follows a woman who's rebuilding her life in the wake of an office affair gone wrong that led to a nervous breakdown. Language is strong and uncensored, including audible words like "f--k," "s--t," and "c--t." A secondary character (her ex-husband) also uses cocaine and other recreational drugs, and there's occasional social drinking.

Kids say

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What's the story?

When a messy office affair ends in a nervous breakdown, Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) heads to a treatment center in Hawaii, where a life-changing experience leaves her ENLIGHTENED with a newfound sense of purpose. But are the people and places she left behind -- including her mother (Diane Ladd) and ex-husband (Luke Wilson) -- ready to accept her passion for positive change?

Is it any good?


Co-produced by Dern and actor-writer Mike White (who also co-stars -- and twice appeared with his dad on The Amazing Race), Enlightened describes itself as an "offbeat" series. And while that's true in the sense that it's unconventional, what's more off-putting and rather puzzling is whether the show is supposed to be a drama or a comedy. You might naturally think "dramedy" would cover it, but even that label doesn't fit.

What you're left with, then, is a mildly quirky drama that's not really all that funny...which is maybe the most uncompelling description ever. In a nice twist, however, Dern's real-life mother plays her onscreen mom, a pairing that's worked well before in several feature films and helps create something worth watching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the real-life consequences of getting involved with someone from work or school. How can the relationship affect your ability to concentrate? What happens when/if the relationship goes sour?

  • Do you think it's possible for people to change? How can outside influences (including family, friends, and work) prevent or enable people making significant changes in their lives? What elements need to be in place to promote long-lasting change? How realistic is Amy's journey?

  • How does Amy measure up as a role model, both before and after her breakdown?

TV details

Cast:Diane Ladd, Laura Dern, Luke Wilson
TV rating:TV-MA

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byHornets234 December 9, 2011
age 16+


What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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