streaming tv party enlightened


Streaming TV Party: Amy can’t get a read in this week’s ‘Enlightened’

On this week's 'Enlightened' watch, Amy tries to understand women.


Audra Schroeder


Posted on Oct 21, 2020   Updated on Jan 27, 2021, 5:02 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.


There are times I just burn with hate

This week’s Enlightened watch spans two episodes about Amy’s relationship with women. Episode 5 marks the halfway point of season 1, though no major plot shifts have taken place so far, and that is somewhat… refreshing? We’ve watched Amy set her next good deed (applying at the homeless shelter, throwing Levi’s drugs in a river) only to be besieged by herself. Two steps forward, one step back. 

In “Not Good Enough Mothers,” directed by Nicole Holofcener, Amy lunges into her next good deed: Helping a mother facing deportation. Her plight, which she only knows about because of the news, stirs something in Amy. But, this being Amy, she also makes it about herself. 

I really wanted to see more come of the Women’s Association of Abaddon (WAA). Amy sees Krista’s baby shower as a step toward reconciliation but does not read the room and turns it into a platform for her women’s group pitch. Her misreading of women around her—Helen, Krista, Judy—shows why the group is DOA. Amy wants solidarity but hasn’t done the groundwork. Her misreading continues in “Sandy,” directed by Jonathan Demme. It gives us some insight into Amy’s experience at Open Air, and Robin Wright is perfectly cast as Sandy, a beachy blonde mirror for an increasingly isolated Amy. We quickly see just how deep their shared experience is. 


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Diane Ladd appreciation corner

I tried to find Helen reaction GIFs, and there are not enough! 

Diane Ladd is so great here, even though we haven’t seen her interact with anyone outside her home. “Sandy” brings the horror of the houseguest to her, and provides some great moments: Helen subtly putting her hand over her cup when she first meets Sandy, as if she’ll be drugged; her startled look when she hears Sandy and Amy doing yoga. 

It’s also been interesting to see how Amy has regressed at her mom’s house, turning into the pouty teen who doesn’t understand why she can’t borrow the car, or why her best friend can’t sleep over another night. In one of the most illuminating moments of the episode (and, perhaps, the show so far), Helen casually recalls a pattern: “You’d get a fix on a girl, and then you’d have a falling out, and all the tears. Then, a new girl would show up. And she was your best friend. So involved.” 

Amy’s not a good friend: She tries to snoop in Sandy’s journal, convinced she’s writing about her. Sandy’s not a good friend: She flakes on teaching a yoga class at Cogentiva, which Amy has hyped up as her next project. The episode’s brilliant last shot illustrates how the friends we see as mirrors are often looking past us.


If you love the idea of cramming your month full of scares, let us save you the trouble of scrolling your library until your eyeballs fall out. We’ll recommend an excellent film that fits the bill in every edition of the Internet Insider this month, so grab your popcorn, dim the lights, and stay tuned. Today’s recommendation, now streaming on Amazon:

  • The Host (2006)Bong Joon-ho was making fantastic films long before being clapped on the back for his Parasite Oscar win. The Host is a classic monster film about how poor government decisions can turn a town into a living nightmare. There’s something alternately terrifying and tender about this film, and it’s remarkable to watch. You may also recognize actor Song Kang-Ho as the male lead from Parasite, who pops up in many of Bong’s films. —Colette Bennett, ecommerce editor

The hummingbird

Amy is churning out the secondhand embarrassment in these episodes. Perhaps it’s a reaction to her passion projects not panning out, but there’s a lot more external stimulation this week. I was reminded of critic Emily Nussbaum’s “hummingbird theory,” coined in 2013 to refer to TV characters like Amy and Leslie Knope. They are intense and well-intentioned but also make people anxious. You might try to avoid the hummingbird, but she’ll find you and get you to join her women’s group. Nussbaum said the archetype “suggests a new concept when it comes to female television characters, something about escaping the trap of perky likability, about finding a new way to forge links between heroism and femininity.” 

Seven years later, the antiheroine has flourished on TV—FleabagDead to MeSharp ObjectsHigh Fidelity—but there are still traces of the hummingbird. Maya from PEN15 might be a new take on it. 

Since episodes are only 30 minutes, I did feel the urge this week to just keep watching all of season 1. But I guess that’s a good sign. Enlightened measures out Amy’s progress in a way that, while realistic, also requires patience. I got irrationally angry this week about something that, in hindsight, was just a blip. In that moment of propulsion, when the nuclear option seemed like the only one, I visualized Amy’s “Let it go.” It’s certainly cheaper than therapy.


  • I couldn’t keep watching HBO’s The Vow, but I did find myself wondering whether Amy would have (theoretically) joined NXIVM. She seems to have a bullshit detector but her WAA flier is also just vague enough. 
  • Is Amy going to get on Twitter soon? I feel like Amy is going to get on Twitter soon. 

For next week: Watch the next two episodes, “Lonely Ghosts” and “Comrades Unite!”

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*First Published: Oct 21, 2020, 6:12 pm CDT