Last night, HBO announced they were cancelling Enlightened, the Mike White self-improvement comedy-drama (lot of hyphens here) after only 2 seasons. I occasionally tuned in, and, while I found the writing really sharp, I was mainly watching for Laura Dern. With HBO's announcement, I realized how little I see of Dern. This saddens me.
I always associate my favorite actors with the first thing I've seen them in. In the back of my head, William H. Macy will always be George from Pleasantville, and Alan Rickman will always be Severus Snape. I was first introduced to Laura Dern when I saw...you know...Jurassic Park. I always gravitated towards the lone female character in an ensemble full of men (I just saved my mother thousands of dollars on therapy), and I was even determined to get the Dr. Ellie Sattler cup from McDonalds when they had promotional cups for it back in 1993.
Enlightened allowed Dern to really shine with a really complicated character. Dern played Amy Jellicoe, an executive who has a personal awakening after she has an incredibly embarrassing nervous breakdown at work. After her successful stint in rehab, Amy strives to leave her self-destructive ways and cultivate a meaningful life for herself.
Is it wrong that I love her even more because of this moment in the pilot?
Amy isn't a role that any actress could do well. Dern wasn't required to take her clothes off, so I'm sure men didn't even know Enlightened existed. Was it overshadowed by the buzzier Lena Dunham-Girls train? As far as I know, the marketing for the show wasn't that strong. Since I no longer have HBO, I wasn't even aware the show was still on, let alone what season they were on. Why hasn't anyone talked about picking the show up? Is it too dead in the water?
In the meantime, Dern will be seen in theaters again when Jurassic Park 3D is released in April. Never fear, general public! Laura Dern will save us all from raptors and angry tyrannosaurs!!! Her human role in that is sadly what she will be most remembered for. Can someone PLEASE cast her in something? Where is David Lynch when you really need him?
As far as feature films go, Dern was most recently seen in a tiny part in The Master ("She was in that?!"), as well as wasting her time in the Little Fockers movies. Her only new credit is Mothers Day, a "Skype/WebChat" drama (what the fuck?) that centers on ten sets of mother-daughter relationships over the course of one Mother's Day. At least it's not being directed by Garry Marshall. Dern will star alongside Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, Andie MacDowell, and Sharon Stone.
Dern is an actress who doesn't shy away from controversial topics (see: Citizen Ruth) and can be incredibly raw (see: We Don't Live Here Anymore), and she doesn't receive the commericial chances she deserves. Does Dern just want to stay low key? She is gorgeous, but, of course, no one pays real attention to women over the age of 40 in Hollywood, no matter how hot they are.
In the meantime, everyone should find Enlightened and see how great Dern is. It is a slow at first, but you will be rewarded with a great character.