The ratings barely register, and EW readers voted HBO's Laura Dern-fronted dark comedy their least-favorite new show of the fall, but here's an impassioned plea to give it one more shot

By Melissa Maerz
Updated November 11, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST

What do you mean, you don’t want to watch a show about an insufferable crazy lady? Apparently some people were turned off by the pilot of Enlightened, in which Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) has a mascara-streaked breakdown at work, attends a hippie anger-management retreat in Hawaii, and returns to the office spiritually awakened — and superannoying. Not many people seem to be watching, and that’s sad, because now that we’re in the midst of the season’s 10-episode halfway mark, Enlightened is one of the funniest, most emotionally wrenching comedies on TV. I have cried while watching it. Twice. And that’s because, for all the jokes about yoga and swimming with sea turtles, Enlightened isn’t just an easy punchline about New Age Californians. This is a tremendously humane, empathetic show about how hard it is to try (and fail, and try again) to be good. True, it’s absurdly fun to watch Amy lose control of her serenity, hurling the C-word at a co-worker or crashing into an ex’s car, but that never belittles her quest to be a better person. Remembering some dark times, she admits, ”You can try to escape the story of your life, but you can’t. It happened. The baby died. The dog died. The heart broke.” And yet, thinking about her weirdo colleagues, she says, ”I realize how much I have, and how much I have to give.” Maybe that’s overearnest. But you know what it isn’t? Wrong.