HBO News Blog

ENLIGHTENED: Cancelled After Just Two Seasons

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 19, 2013 to Enlightened

Enlightened_logoHBO has just lost that ENLIGHTENED feeling. I could also argue that America itself never felt so inclined because the show, sadly for me, has been dropped due to low ratings.

Let me give you some numbers: Season One had a total of 0.17 million viewers and Season Two premiered on 01.13.23 with 300,000 viewers and concluded on 03.03.13 with 220,000. The viewing audience just dwindled to a number that caused HBO to take longer than usual to determine the fate of Mike White’s series resulting in the cancellation. The site TVLine had a Q & A with creator/writer White before the ruling. Here is an excerpt:

TVLine asked

So I saved the toughest question till the end: Will we get a Season 3 of Enlightened? Do you have a sense of which way the network is leaning?

Mike White’s answer was To be totally honest, I usually have a gut about these things, but this time around I really feel like it could go either way. I felt like we had little chance of coming back as of just a few weeks ago. But it seems like in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had more people voicing their affection for the show. And internally at HBO, the executives themselves are big fans. I’ve met with them, and I know the pros and cons. I just hope that they’ll decide soon. All day long I’m being asked this question by journalists, by actors who are on the show, by people in my life. Psychologically, I’m either free as a bird or I have eight or 10 episodes of television to write as quickly as possible. It’s a lot to deal with. We’ve kind of been on the precipice for a while.


 White, Laura Dern and company didn’t fall off the precipice in the end but just merely climbed back down from the edge to live another day and, hopefully, return to HBO in some other way. Accompanying HBO’s decision was a simple statement that reaffirms that hope.  HBO says – “It was a very difficult decision. We’re proud of the show and we look forward to working with Mike White and Laura Dern in the future.”

Surprisingly, to me, there is not much fanfare to this ruling. Every source I checked on this news offered a simple little post listing the creative and artistic teams involved and the simple statement from HBO. Maybe, that just proves that not many watched or cared about Amy Jellicoe and her fight which is contradictory to the fact that Laura Dern did win a Golden Globe for her role. Honestly, because of that sparse detail it was difficult to flesh out a meaty post. Here is my effort and maybe HBOWatch can follow up with a closer look at ENLIGHTENED at some point.

You know, I can see where HBO is not in great distress over its decision as it has comedies in the pipeline including the upcoming FAMILY TREE and SILICON VALLEY plus others in various stages of development. I will look forward to getting attached to another comedy instead. As for ENLIGHTENED you can always relive it on HBOGo or DVD.

Lastly, I leave you with a quote I remember from the final show of this season and this show. I’m not the first to quote it,  did that, but I love what Smiling_AmyAmy Jellicoe says. That is why I leave you an image of Dern’s character smiling as opposed to that smudged mascara look we remember.

“There is only one life. There is so much I don’t understand, but this I know, you can wake up to your higher self, you can be patient, and you can be kind. You can be wise and almost whole. You can walk out of hell and into the light. You don’t have to run away from life your whole life, you can really live. And you can change. And you can be an agent of change.”  


So, fans come here to HBOWatch to mourn or maybe to state that you liked GIRLS or VEEP better anyway. We wait for your comments.

  • Tapestry10

    Enlightened was infinitely better than many of the shows HBO still produces. It was one of the best shows HBO gave us and ranks with the great originals. Mike White is a genius. Also great were Laura Dern and Diane Ladd; there was great writing, magnificent acting and perfect casting. The show got great reviews. It’s true the ratings were not spectacular, but even Seinfeld took years to find an audience–and that was another show of great originality. I hope some person gifted at online crusades can persuade Netflix or Amazon to give us a much-wanted Season 3.

  • OzzyLovesBabyShampoo

    Great show! Never heard of it before. Maybe do a little more with your advertising dollars and promote shows that don’t suck next time. A show like this is the only reason to have HBO. I canceled HBO years ago when there was barely anything of substance left. Be happy you licensed it to Amazon and consider licensing the rest of your shows to Amazon as well because I’m not paying for HBO Go, either. Your tendency to cancel shows in mid-stream makes me never want to subscribe again. This makes the third time and you’re out.

  • Lyndsey

    I wish I had found this show earlier before it was cancelled. There’s so much unanswered still. So much growth for the characters and her to embrace and for viewers to see. I watched all of them and am so sad there isn’t a season 3. I was so sure there would be. So much work so much build up to get exactly where I wanted to see her get and then her infamous new struggles await. I wanted to see her come out smelling like a rose after you think she will fail, or never “understand” she learns something new. The characters learn something new. And even if it isn’t what originally was wanted. It’s meaningful And inspiring. Even if the characters aren’t who we want them to be or grow into at first they aren’t supposed to fit into any box and what they did show me sometimes flanked me with this unseen new hope. Absolutely wonderful. A breath of fresh air l appreciate when it comes to a unique approach to comedy. And so much more.

  • crydiego

    Self centered, self absorbed, and clueless white women on a path to wisdom in a manufactured world of obvious and contrived evil.

  • tippi23

    this was one of the best shows on television – just because something isn’t watched by the masses doesn’t diminish its value. you need to keep quality programming as part of the hbo menu even if it only appeals to the highly evolved part of your audience. It’s called variety – not everyone wants to watch the Kardashians take selifes of their asses – decisions like this cause tv to become generic. the only reason i am even keeping hbo is b/c i can’t stand wasting 3 hours on the phone with verizon to drop it – so i will just wait for game of thrones and the occasional special.

  • anthony

    This is was my favorite show ever and now I want to die

  • Mindfulmind

    The sad fact our tv watching society had no interest in a show that depicts a human’s courageous journal toward waking up and evolving from sleepwalking scares me.

  • Andie

    Great Show – on a totally unique tangent. Hopeful, striving and always struggling to evolve from self interest. Ironic that HBO did not recognize how difficult it is to become enlightened. Hey HBO “you can wake up to your higher self, you can be patient” . Give it another chance.

  • mary

    Totally agree with Donna! Huge supporter in bringing back this show on HBO!!!

  • Donna

    Huge disappointment! If “Enlightened” had been better promoted, perhaps we would be enjoying another season. The writing and acting were first rate; this is yet another example of excellence going unrewarded. It’s too bad for those of us who search among the ocean of junk offered on television for the few rare gems of true art.

  • nick

    I watched all, and I want more.. Season 3 must happen

  • Cicilinda

    I am so disappointed that the show has been canceled. Enlightened is a much better show than The Girls & VEEP. It is sophisticated, witty and funny. Amy Dern’s performance was outstanding. Hope other company would pick up the show.

  • Jackie

    I just leaned of the cancellation and am very sad!! What a great, quirky comedy. I loved the show and wish HBO would reconsider. Hmmm, maybe Netflix would pick it up!?!?

  • Lupe

    Just watched the whole thing in a couple of days. Really disappointed that it has been cancelled!! What excellent writing. Mike White, you’re wonderful.

  • Lauralinda

    This show was intelligent and beautiful. Incredibly disappointed that it won’t be back.

  • disqus_OrVjr0MWwO

    Perhaps Enlightened was a bit too sophisticated for many sitcom viewers. The story might have seemed a bit slow at times, and I did think some of the characters weren’t particularly interesting. But Amy was fascinating and I thought it was great how they managed to complete that particular story while the show was still running. I will miss this show.

  • Barb P

    Bjp. Loved this program, so sorry it will not be back. Laura Dern and Luke Wilson are great. Hope to see season 3 in the near future

  • pbarker

    Aaaggh. Those idiots. This was a fantastic show on the level of Homeland, Nurse Jackie, Weeds et al. The ONLY reason I found it was by sheer accident, and WHAT a hidden gem. Where was the advertising about the show????? Where is the advertising????? Don’t let this show go — it needs just one more season and it will catch fire big time – Californication style (recall slow start there as well). Hopefully, someone else will pick up?

  • Enlightened Fan

    I couldn’t wait for the next season to begin! Just read now that it’s been cancelled. It was an incredibly good show. Loved the characters, all of them. They were just beginning to really interesting. It takes a while to get to know characters so I am very sad to see it go.

  • Depressed in Minnesota

    I loved this series, i’m so disappointed.
    What will I do now.

  • The Plain Truth

    “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” …. well it turns out, it is TV.
    In TV, ratings matter and Enlightened didn’t have the ratings – and like “real” TV, the execs killed the show.
    Same dynamic at CBS, FOX … pick one – alas HBO is no different.

    I loved this show, as did my wife.
    I thought HBO was brave to produce it and when I saw the first episode, thanked the TV gods I had an HBO subscription.
    It was smart, original (in a world of sequels and rip-offs), and sin-of-sins, it made you think, sometimes even feel.
    Can’t have that on a regular basis!
    Hats off to Mike White and Laura Dern, they were both brilliant.
    I will miss this show a lot.

  • judy M

    I am VERY FRUSTRATED. It seems only the “real life” quality shows get cancelled. I could identify so much with the writing, just like the movie “Office Space”. Not everyone has worked in a cubicle, and can identify the hilarious behavior of upper management, and its fun watching “our” lives played out on tv sometimes. Especially, with the Amy scenario, where she actually fights back! Its like i had a cheerleading section going on, rooting for her to screw them,( the company). But HBO has killed my dreams, all for ratings!

  • JE

    I am totally shocked that this show won’t continue. It was the best series on television! I totally enjoyed it and felt they got so many things “right”. All I can hope for now is that they change their minds.

  • EK

    Great show – compelling, interesting and funny without being predictably funny, as is the case with most comedies. I have really wanted to love Family Tree, and it has some fantastic moments, but in the end it is too much of the same old stuff rehashed. Enlightened was fresh and original, with a story line that kept me coming back.

  • astepahead

    My instincts are usually right on target and I always find myself watching, what turn out to be, the best shows on television. This show was well-written and better than most movies coming out of Hollywood these days. If the “powers that be” aren’t going to produce good movies any more at least leave us the good TV shows. The entertainment business is dying a sad, slow death. May it rest in peace.

  • Jt

    Ahh what a bummer. This was a show that saw corporate America so clearly, and commented on it in a brilliant way through Amy.

    So sad it’s over – and I never thought I’d say that about a tv show.

  • Tan

    I enjoyed the train wreck aspect of her life for a while, but it didn’t keep my interest. In the end, I felt like she would never get out of her own way, and she was dragging everyone else down with her. I gave up hope before the end of S2 and dropped out.

    I’m sorry for the folks who will miss it. I know the feeling, and I hope you find a new groups of friends to root for (or people to learn from) very soon!

  • Enlightened

    Wow I was just searching online to try to find out when the new season would start. I’m shocked. Fantastic show. Well acted. Well written. Another mistake by hbo.

  • signe

    What a shame. Save the show!!! Second season was even better than the first. I was looking forward to season 3. Come on HBO!!!

  • Mad Eskimo

    I’m from Nuuk, Greenland and I recently discovered the existence of this show.
    I don’t know anyone else in this country who watches this and I think there is a rare essence in this show, that hasn’t really been captured anywhere else.

    It’s truly sad to hear that it has been canceled.

    As much as I love the programs HBO occasionally produce, I would like to show regret/anger/disgust/mourning and whatnot, for canceling a show of that high caliber in originality. A show that really only got better within its short lifespan and something that really had the soul and guts to stand out in todays television. This program truly deserved a long run. Enlightened was great and you know it !!!

    Thank you HBO for airing this, and giving the opportunity for people to see another form of silent greatness and subtle poetry

    – and fuck you for taking it all away.

    Sincerely, a passionate viewer

  • katey

    I just read that the idiotic show VICE is still on. What the heck? They cancel a smart show and keep that idiotic one? Weird!

  • katey

    Wow, I had no idea. I LOVED this show and thought it was THE BEST on television. Goes to show you just can’t put a “smart” show on TV. Totally
    upset. They did this to political animals too. What a freakin shame.

  • Tsi Wen Cheng

    I love this show very much. It is enlightened for me. Seriously.

  • Tyrion L

    Great show! Everyone came together to make Enlightened truly awe inspiring. I hope they get to finish telling this story!!

  • saddened viewer

    Never underestimate the TV production people. ENLIGHTENED was WONDERFUL! But then RUBICON was brilliant. And LUCK was brilliant. All three were among the very best TV dramas. The Sopranos and Mad Men and Breaking Bad…there are some that survived, and deserved to. But you guys are doing the TV culture a great disservice. That writer’s strike was the beginning of this sad narrowing of the offerings.

    What can be profitably produced without having to pay real actors and real writers? Why, “reality” shows….show us the (low paid and unscripted) unfortunate. The parade the fat, poor, stupid or benighted people from the backwaters and the underside. Show us some idiots being smacked into a mud waller. Such programing is cheap in every sense of the word. Why bother with brilliant writing and acting when you can get away with so little for so much profit? Sorry, folks.

    OK, so I watch one reality program…Judge Judy, truly refreshing because she calls it like it is, unfortunate losers though her clients be. But is there no limit to the dreck you pour out? Whoever cancelled the above programs should extend their collective view beyond the conviction that money is the be all and end all. It really doesn’t have to be all the time, does it? We have lost some real gems. I could weep that Luck is gone. Are any real writers still around, or have they all fled to PBS?

  • Yvette

    Enlightened was smart, different, well acted and written. I hope you change your mind and bring it back. It is the type of show that can grow with each season. Not a cookie cutter sitcom.

  • Megan

    Oh no!!! I was becoming a better person because of this show. Not only in ways of making decisions, but by being creative and living freely. All who was involved in the show did such a wonderful job! I am very sad that I will never know what happens to Amy :(

  • New to HBO

    Great show, I’m sorry to hear it will not be on again. It is very unique and might take people a few episodes to understand. I loved it!

  • Ervana

    Oh no! This is very bad news. I love this show. One of my favorites for sure. The whole cast is great, but Laura Dern is amazing. Incredible emotional range and totally believeable. Mike White is too. The writing is fantastic. Don’t cancel!! It’s one of the main reasons that I’ve kept HBO. Seriously thinking of canceling since Girls is starting to turn me off. I hope HBO will reconsider.

  • tiki

    I just didn’t like the fact they put too much “meditation” thing. The representation of someone tired with a job and living with parents, broke and trying to have revenge against a huge corporation is absolutely realistic… I would do the same. Realizing your ex is a drug addict and your life is screwed is absolutely fun on the show because many of us can feel understand. But the meditation thing and the episodes where she is saying those things about freedom and that she wants to change the world and blablabla are too much boring.

  • tart green

    It was boring and the lead character was annoying.

  • Kris M.

    You know who I loved in this show? Mike White. I loved his character, I loved his writing, and I totally enjoyed waiting until the show was over to hear what he had to say about that particular episode. Thought it was a great show — but not surprised that it was cancelled. It was the kind of show that you had to become invested in, you had to give it time to develop — and in this day and age where instantaneous entertainment is the norm, people don’t have the attention span to wait for character develop. Too bad. It was a good show.

  • I’ve gotten into the show since it was cancelled. My only question is when does Season 2 come out for sale for non HBO subscribers? I can’t find that info anywhere online.

  • Mike

    Do What Amy Would Do and Sign this Online Petition to Save Enlightened to be aired on another media outlet!

  • nptexas

    For the life of me, I CANNOT understand how these decisions are really made. They can’t be based on numbers alone. Do you not realize, HBO, that there is a giant audience of baby boomers who actually watch TV on weekends?

    I totally agree with this comment from another viewer:

    ‘LUCK’ Deserved a fight. Hiding behind livestock liabilies in order to justify canceling a new series with such obvious momentum and potential building up is clearly a cop-out at this level. HBO.

    Same thing with Enlightened! Give it a chance. Curb is wacky and quirky but you still give it room to gain an audience. Enlightened and Luck both GREAT. So much drivel, especially reality drivel, you have such an opportunity to do other things. So, some show isn’t an instant hit. So what? Give things a chance. We wait months and months and months between seasons of something like Boardwalk and you can’t give us a season of Enlightened? Luck was so good. And not about teenagers and 20-somethings, with good plot, good characters, great acting and you cave because of some horse deaths that weren’t even your fault? So, fake the horse races! Geez.

    Honestly, you make it hard to even watch HBO and it’s certainly no longer my “go to” channel like it once was. Sad

  • Loved this show. Really great characters, Amy was such a mess, and not 100% likeable, in fact she was like watching a slow motion car crash, but such brave writing. Really wish there was a third series.

  • David Sauri

    Be an agent of change, save Enlightened. Please voice your support and sign the petition to save the show!

  • Joanne

    Very sad that this series was cancelled. It tells so much truth about the contradictions and dreams of everyday life. So sad…

  • Eleonora Iafano

    A crying shame! Everybody loves a good story where the little person can stand up to the big bully! I loved this series, great writing, great cast. RIP Enlightened, you were great while you lasted!

  • Sheryl M

    I loved the show Enlightened. I could totally relate to her character…as I am divorced and 53. I lived a life very similar to hers only a few variations. I got her, I got what her life was before and after. That abyss you drift into after divorce, but still loving that person and trying to find your own way, living at home once again….is tough….and some of us find ourselves Enlightened that the world is so cold….excellent writing and excellent story line. Great actors!!!

  • I’m not much for comedies, as a rule. Couldn’t get into this one, but maybe it just wasn’t weird enough for me. I’m more or a Girls or Summer Heights High kind of girl) I know there people who really enjoyed this show, so I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t make the cut.

  • I know there were some love letters to this show in the form of blog posts from critics and fans wanting HBO to renew it. I think we all suspected when HBO didn’t renew it after S2 Ep1 as they normally do.

    HBO has a TON of new comedies coming out soon and I was honestly wondering how they were going to squeeze them all in to Sunday nights. I guess this one just wasn’t doing it for them financially or schedule-wise.

    I see the appeal and the demographic they were aiming at. I don’t think it was a bad show or a mistake to produce it at all.

    I hope fans pick up the DVDs and cherish the show for what it was.

  • Happy One

    I really enjoyed this program. I think most people didn’t “get it” or if they did they are someone who just “goes with the flow”. I worked at the lowest level for a world-wide corporation that terminated me for reporting an incident – the last 1 1/2 years were made a living hell for me. I’ve been working since 1965 and I hated the way employees were treated at this corporation. I can honestly say I hated this job. I’ve been unemployed for 13 months and am looking forward to being semi-retired and starting a small business with my disabled husband and doing volunteer work. As for the person who made my life a living hell – she was terminated last month – and she has about 20 more years before she can retire. I will miss Amy Jellicoe, she had guts!!!!

    • Sheryl M

      Amen!!! We loved Amy!!

      • LB

        We will miss this show. Laura and Mike – awesome job on this series. Hope that in some way this series can be brought back, if not by HBO, maybe another network.

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