'Enlightened' canceled by HBO after two seasons
The half-hour series was co-created by Mike White and Laura Dern, who were also both a part of the ensemble cast along with Diane Ladd, Luke Wilson, Timm Sharp and Sarah Burns.
Dern's starring role as enthusiastic do-gooder Amy Jellicoe won her a richly deserved Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for the first season.
While HBO premiered Season 1 in a failed experiment to expand original programming to Monday nights, Season 2 was paired with the network's buzz comedy "Girls" on Sundays. Unfortunately, the shift barely boosted the ratings despite a dramatic increase in social media chatter, especially near the end of the show's run.
"Enlightened" Season 2 averaged a miniscule 222,000 viewers (up from 170,000 in Season 1) and matched the first season's 0.1 average 18-49 rating. That's way off from lead-in "Girls" Season 2's average of 660,000 viewers and 0.38 in the 18-49 demo.
It should be noted those numbers don't represent the actual size of the "Enlightened" audience -- everything on HBO is boosted by multiple plays as well as on demand, HBO Go and DVR viewing -- but cumulative numbers were not immediately available.
Whatever the figure, it must not have been enough for the pay cable channel. HBO had previously shown faith in the creative strength of "Enlightened" by renewing the show for Season 2 despite canceling higher rated half-hours including "Hung," "How to Make It In America" and "Bored to Death." The cancellation was first reported by BuzzFeed.
"It was a very difficult decision," HBO said in a statement about the cancellation. "We're proud of the show and we look forward to working with Mike White and Laura Dern in the future."
We'd look forward to whatever White and Dern do next too. Although after this decision, it might be surprising to see that on HBO.