the concrete

by rantywoman

One thing Enlightened is very smart about is that it knows that internal spiritual struggles are connected to external concrete realities. In Amy’s case: she’s trying to learn to master her emotions, to forgive, to nurture, to give back the world, yada yada yada. (The “yada yada yada” is me, not Enlightened; as I’ve said before, the show’s surprising strength is that it can be tough on Amy, but it doesn’t treat her spiritual questing as if it is inherently comic or ridiculous.) But her spiritual journey is driven and challenged by a concrete reality: she’s broke.

And she’s broke in a way that—as exaggerated as her behavior and some of her circumstances might be—a lot of Americans in this economy could relate to. She’s downwardly mobile: literally, she’s been moved down from her corporate suite into the sub-basement of antisocial software drones. She was once one of the elect, and she was cast out of the Garden.

She feels a lot of things—frustration, bitterness, betrayal—but she also experiences something that David Brooks once referred to as “status-income disequilibrium.” That is: she is the kind of person who has to take the bus when her crappy car breaks down, but she does not see herself as belonging to that class of people. (Side note: Mike White wrote the episode, as he has every episode of the season, but it’s appropriate that this episode was directed by Holofcener, who explored similar kinds of money-soul issues in Please Give and Friends With Money.) Part of Amy’s discomfort, and ours, is that she’s a broke woman trying to practice a luxury-pastime, private-spa version of spiritual peace. (If Hollywood and the upscale-yoga-pants business have taught us anything, it’s that the road to Nirvana is paved with dollar bills.)

Read more: Why You Should Be Watching HBO’s Enlightened – Laura Dern – Mike White |