enlightened season 2

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‘Enlightened’ season 2: Revenge is infectious

This week in our Streaming TV Party newsletter, Amy's the chosen one.

 

Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Published Nov 11, 2020   Updated Jan 27, 2021, 7:14 pm CST

Warning: This newsletter contains spoilers for Enlightened. Catch up here with Streaming TV Party’s previous newsletters—and sign up to receive the best of the internet straight to your inbox.

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But her emails!

Welcome to Enlightened season 2! My anxiety levels have decreased a little since last week’s newsletter, but it feels appropriate to start a new season right now. While season 1 ended on a hopeful note, the season 2 premiere opens on a more cynical one. 

Amy’s voiceover, while still soothing, digs in deeper: She ponders the “lunatic logic” and “death drive” of her place of employment and wonders if she has the “key” to “free us all.” Never mind that Amy doesn’t know if everyone wants to be free, something Tyler points out to her as she continues to manipulate him into fighting the good fight. Or, at least what she thinks is the good fight. “People are living under the illusion that the American dream is working for them,” she barks at Tyler. “I don’t want to lose what little I have,” he responds. He’s got a timeshare! 

Redirecting Amy’s unmanned firehose of righteousness is the season’s first new character: L.A. Times investigative reporter Jeff Flender (Dermot Mulroney), who entertains her theories but also shuts down her naïveté. What Amy thinks is the key to bringing down Abaddonn is really just the bare minimum, which is amusing because in season 1 Amy was also just doing the bare minimum. But one piece of intel—that Cogentiva is being downsized—sets up tension for the second season.


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The Tyler project

Throughout the first two episodes, Amy and Tyler have an uneasy alliance. Her squeals of “Tyyylerr!” are typically followed by some idealistic sloganeering about the “little guy” but there’s also the fact that she is not being discreet about her “side hustle” at all. 

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“Revenge Play” seems to apply more to Tyler, though. So far he’s been Amy’s sidekick but is mostly relegated to doing things for her, not with her. Omar’s break room insult is the turning point; Tyler’s finally on board but not in the way Amy had likely envisioned. And his actions have led to real consequences. 

Not that Amy’s really noticed because she’s too busy trying to… manipulate her way into Krista’s hospital room. [Internal scream] And Krista does the face she always does to indicate she does not like Amy! These scenes are just pure cringe at this point!


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‘Enlightened’ and race

In the scene where Amy has a dream about walking into Abaddonn and taking it down, she’s flanked by a group of Black people from the previous scene at the jazz club. They appear to be federal agents? It was such an odd tonal shift, but it’s also indicative of how Amy probably thinks everyone is oppressed in the same way as her. 

“Revenge Play” made me think about one of the show’s weak spots (so far). Aside from a woman at the homeless shelter in “Someone Else’s Life,” there are no Black people with speaking roles in season 1. Riverside, where the show takes place, is heavily populated by Latinos, but the only view we’ve had so far is a mother being deported, and hotel workers on strike. In both scenarios, Amy co-opts their struggles as her own. 

But perhaps that’s the point? Enlightened is about a white woman who’s often clueless and naive. She has good intentions but she’s also selfish. Maybe her blind spots will get a little more attention this season.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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  • Does shirtless Flender signal a potential romance while Levi’s in rehab? Also why is he so shirtless? 
  • Enlightened seems to be pivoting to more of a corporate dramedy but does anyone else just want to see Amy go to therapy?

For next week: Watch the next two episodes, “Higher Power” and “Follow Me.”

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*First Published: Nov 11, 2020, 3:36 pm CST