HBO released a statement Tuesday announcing the cancelation of the low-rated yet critically acclaimed dark comedy “Enlightened,” which starred Laura Dern, Luke Wilson and Mike White. Dern and White also co-created the program, which is meeting its maker after two seasons.
HBO released a statement saying that it was proud of the show and that canceling it was a “very difficult decision,” but the ratings were such that even a prestige network like HBO opted not to keep “Enlightened” on life support. The network added that it looks forward to working with both Dern and White in the future.
The show even won Dern a Golden Globe for best TV comedy actress, but the people who watched her win that Golden Globe weren’t watching the show — its second season premiere had only 300,000 viewers according to Deadline Hollywood, which is just a third of its buzzed-about lead-in, Lena Dunham’s “Girls.” And that’s actually up from its old timeslot in its first season, when it debuted to 210,000 viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter, with a series low of 130,000 viewers.
So for the vast masses that didn’t watch the show, what was “Enlightened” about? It followed Dern as Amy Jellicoe, an executive who suffers a nervous breakdown, enters rehab, then returns seemingly changed and trying to live a more positive life.
One of its strongest supporters, comedian Patton Oswalt, staged an all-out Twitter campaign to try to save the show. (Warning: Contains adult language. He really liked “Enlightened.”)
ENLIGHTENED has been canceled...by HBO.GODDAMIT.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 20, 2013
But this is 2013.Networks cancel shows, other networks snap 'em up.Can SOMEONE snap up ENLIGHTENED? #Enlightened— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 20, 2013
I'm serious.AMC? F/X?Showtime & Cinemax are doing great original shows now. SOMEONE STEP UP.#Enlightened— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 20, 2013
Netflix!Netflix!Come on! ENLIGHTENED. Pick it up!We'll watch it!We'll ALL watch it!I'LL MAKE EVERYONE WATCH IT. #Enlightened— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 20, 2013
Shit, I was going to start a Twitter rant about ENLIGHTENED being canceled, but I'm so genuinely sad right now. Need to go brood. And plan.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 20, 2013
Patton wasn’t the only one upset with the cancelation. For example, there was “Cougar Town” star Busy Philipps:
NOOOOO! NOT Enlightened!!!! COME ON! Someone! Quick! Please!!!!! PICK IT UP!— Busy Philipps (@Busyphilipps25) March 20, 2013
It had some good press recently, with titles like “You Really Should Be Watching ‘Enlightened,’” “How Mike White Turned ‘Enlightened’ Into The Best And Most Original Show On TV” and “Enlightened is TV’s best show right now—and it needs more viewers.” But it looks like it’s too little too late, unless Mr. Oswalt gets his wish.
Of course, it couldn’t hurt to start watching now. Fan support means the “Veronica Mars” movie is happening a decade after that show ended — there’s always hope.