Last week, I spoke with Enlightened’s co-creator Mike White about a billion things: how much he loves doing the show (even though it’s hard), how he’s so desperate to go on The Amazing Race again that he would consider being a sperm donor for another former Race-r, his ambivalence about Twitter, and his love of Daniel Tosh. Here is the full interview.
We also talked about the finale, which aired Sunday night on HBO. But I did not include any spoilers. Here they are, though, so stop reading now if you don’t want to know.
In the final episode, Amy (Laura Dern) is fired from Abaddon in advance of the Los Angeles Times’ whistle-blowing story that will expose the CEO and the entire company’s illegal practices (which are kept vague in the plot, but seem to be quite nefarious). “You feel, but you don’t think,” Abaddon CEO Charles Szidon (James Rebhorn) tells Amy as he assures her the company will be suing her. In a hilarious bookend to the series premiere, he chases her to the elevator as he becomes increasingly unhinged.
The last moments of the finale show Amy seeing the story on A1 of the L.A. Times, signifying her achievement’s importance; even her worried/frustrated mother (Diane Ladd) looks proud as she reads it. A pretty happy ending for everyone, even Tyler (White), whom Amy dragged reluctantly into her crusade.
In terms of why he chose to end things that way — so completely, seemingly — here’s what White said:
“The first season, I definitely wanted to end on the biggest cliffhanger I could. In the hopes that we would get a second season. The second season, just trying to read the tea leaves, if our ratings didn’t improve, this could be it. I want people to leave on a redemption for the character herself. It’s a complex thing. But we’re on her side. She’s done something.”
OK. But White and fans do want the show to return. Where does that leave the story? Here’s what he said:
“I feel like the third season is all the lawsuits. Her lawsuit; their lawsuit against her. To trash her reputation would be very easy: to undermine her credibility as a whistleblower. And I think it would be fun to do a sort of Rashomon of all we’ve seen these last two seasons, as each person — the people in Cogentiva, the Kristas, the Janices — has to be deposed to get a picture of who Amy really is, and how righteous is her cause. How much of it is revenge?”