Mike White walks us through Enlightened’s second season (2 of 2)

Mike White walks us through Enlightened’s second season (2 of 2)

The A.V. Club recently sat down with Mike White to talk about Enlightened’s second—and, sadly, final—season. The first part, which covers the season’s first half, is here.

The Ghost Is Seen”(February 10, 2013)
Tyler launches a relationship with Szidon’s personal assistant, and Amy and Dougie think it could be a way to prove Szidon’s malfeasance.

The A.V. Club: You really emphasize some of the negative consequences of what Amy is doing. To what degree are you playing off the antihero tradition that has sprung up in TV the last 20 years or so?

Mike White: To me, I don’t think I’m trying to play up her antihero qualities so much as I am trying to show, from a character we’ve really grown to know, the personal consequences of torching the building. She may be right about taking down this company, but in the end, the people that work at the company are people. This is going to have a negative impact on individuals if she is able to fulfill her mission. I’m still on her side, personally. I think she’s courageous to fight this battle for justice. She’s finding real malfeasance. But I also felt like, by really dramatizing and switching focus, it can be read also in this way that she’s going to create suffering among individual people. 

It’s not so much an antihero. It’s just a complex situation, and it’s something that we all deal with. I could get a job rewriting a movie that I don’t believe in the values of; it’s some violent, horrible movie, or whatever, as an example. At the same time, with that money I would make, I could get my mom out of debt or do something really meaningful for the people in my life or use that money and give it to charity. Sometimes I’ve actually done those things. So it’s more about conflicting values, as opposed to who’s right, who’s wrong; she’s a hero or an antihero. She is somebody that is in a situation where there isn’t a simple, ethical reaction.

AVC: When we first meet the Cogentiva people in season one, there’s this “Island of Misfit Toys” vibe, but you’ve really deepened all of them over the course of the episodes. How did that process work, especially with Tyler and Dougie, who are so important to this arc?

MW: [That’s] the pleasure of writing for television, what movies can’t do. A character like Dougie is a perfect example. First, he is like the goof, then he’s like the villain, then he’s the help maid, and then he’s the hero. By the end when he’s sending them off, albeit in a comical way, his perspective is actually very poetic and heartfelt, and you realize there’s a real pride in what he’s doing. He does sort of care in his crazy, demented way. And being able to allow a character to change, allowing people to come at things from one point of view and then open it up to a different kind of thing: That’s the reason I want to go back and write more episodes. It’s really just from a pure, selfish writing thing, which is to be able to go back and do it again and deepen it even more, take it in even more unexpected ways and show different sorts of colors to it. That’s something that if I started a new show or wrote a movie, you can’t have that kind of writing pleasure in that same way. Because you’re starting over from square one, you know? 

So it’s funny when I first showed the second episode of the first season to HBO [where Amy ends up down in the basement with the others at Cogentiva], there was this kind of, “You wouldn’t want to be down there with these people!” Like, this is going to turn people off if she’s stuck in this hell. But that’s the whole idea. I’ve mentioned this before, this Stardust Memories moment where Woody Allen is on the train, and he sees Sharon Stone and the tennis players on the opposite train having fun, and he looks around and he’s in a Fellini movie. That’s the idea, that she starts in this place where these are the losers, and it’s like, even though she’s fighting for the little guy, she doesn’t want to be associated with these people or have to be stuck with these people. But over time, these people prove to be much more than the way they look, or how you initially come to them. 

AVC: This episode also introduces the character of Eileen, who is initially just a McGuffin but becomes her own force within the show. How did her character develop, and how did you decide to cast Molly Shannon in it?

MW: Molly, I’ve worked with before many times. She’s just a great person. She was a big fan of the show, and I thought it would be fun. She’s friends with Laura, and I felt like she could fit in with our shoot. The trick was, I had to accomplish a lot in one episode. Not just the plot aspects, but how does somebody who is so far from being able to be in a relationship, like Tyler, get to a place where he is actually in a relationship that could be in jeopardy? So I was trying to find the female equivalent of a Tyler, somebody who can recognize in him the things that she has, but who is at a more self-advanced stage of awareness that can bring him out and see the potential in him and identify with him, but also lead him to real intimacy that he hasn’t been able to find on his own. Trying to figure out what her backstory was that would allow that characterization was the fun of finding that character. And I felt like with Molly, she’s somebody who can bring that and make that authentic. I think people think of her in this broad, comedic way, so to be able to show all of her levels was fun to do. And I felt like James Bobin was the perfect director. He has a real visual flair, but there’s also a sweetness to his stuff and a heart to it, so he felt like the perfect person to enact it.  

AVC: You use floral motifs a lot throughout the show, and there’s a lot of flower symbolism throughout, particularly with Amy’s mother. This episode ends with Tyler buying the flowers. Why did you choose flowers as a symbol?

MW: I think with Helen, it’s little different; I think the meaning changes. With Helen, there were times, especially at the beginning, where the problem with Amy’s relationship with Helen is that she wants her to react and fight her or love her or something, and often the mom just shuts down. To me, flowers represent that nature doesn’t love you or hate you. It just exists, and there’s something beautiful in that. It’s not about approval or criticism; it’s just something that acknowledges a separateness, but it’s also life co-existing. To me, my sense of Helen is we understand from her background why she is probably trying to keep this emotional stuff in check. It’s not that she hates Amy, or that she even loves Amy. It’s that flowers, to her, is like her bringing Amy back to a non-emotional state, a natural state that is without these heavy, pendulum swings of emotion.  And also, in the episode with Robin Wright, it’s kind of enacted, too. Helen says, “My flowers don’t judge me; they don’t move my stuff around.” So Amy wants all this stuff from Sandy [Wright], and first she projects onto her, and then she starts getting paranoid of her. And in the end, like the flowers in the book, she’s not really thinking about you. She’s just living her own reality, and I think that, for someone like Amy, is a lesson she needs to learn. It’s not either anger or love, there’s some kind of natural non-emotional state that she can reconnect with. 

I think in the episode you’re talking about—the episode with Tyler—the flower is more about how as a ghost, he has no burden to be. In his apartment, there’s nothing alive. It’s like he’s in this safe place and buying something, even it if dies… I used to go, “Why would I want to buy a plant? It’s just going to die in my house.” [Laughs.] Of course everything dies. It’s the same point in having a pet or having a lover. Maybe it’s not going to work out, but that’s what life is. You have to engage life. Yeah, you buy the flower, and it dies in your vase, but at that moment it’s alive in your house. So I think, for Tyler, it’s a slightly different thing.

AVC: Do you modulate how you write Amy in episodes that aren’t from her point of view? 

MW: Dougie and Tyler, in a sense, are Disney characters. Dougie is the Cowardly Lion, and Tyler is the Tin Man or whatever. It’s different kinds of animated-movie characters, which is the stock and trade of most sitcoms. You have a “Dopey” and “Sneezy,” “Happy” and “Doc,” or whatever. It was fun in that episode for Amy to become one of those. She’s like the Amy distilled into when she says goodbye to Eileen on the parking lot. “I know more than you think!” Almost using her as a comic relief, a comic runner, as opposed to the more complicated, modulated Amy in different episodes. So it was fun to not get completely away from her, but by the end episode when she’s machinating on the phone, she borders on the villain. 

AVC: If you got a third season, is this point-of-view episode something you would want to continue with other characters?

MW: Absolutely. Again, the show is A-stories, and they’re all subjective A-stories. I think that structure is almost more important than staying inside the mind of any one character. When you think about Enlightened, Tyler and Levi, they’re all going through their own learning curve, so you have to be in their head to really get it.

AVC: You seem really interested in that perspective, in following people and then sort of flipping things on their ear by looking through there. 

MW: Well, I think the third season would be the real culmination of that, because of the whole idea of a lawsuit and the depositions and basically everything we’ve seen told from different people’s perspective and how they see Amy. It’s her having to see how people really look at her in the guise of truth. Where it’s not an interaction; it’s a narrative, and you’re a character in their narrative, which is a really trippy thing if you’ve ever been in a lawsuit. They’re reading a history from someone’s point of view, and you’re like, “Wow, that’s not how I remember it.”

All I Ever Wanted” (February 17, 2013)
Jeff reacts with glee to the evidence Amy has uncovered, and they begin sleeping together. At the same time, Levi returns, and he’s changed.

AVC: Todd Haynes directed this episode, and you’ve had a lot of fairly big-name guest directors come along. How does that happen, and what do you think they either see in the show or bring to the show?

MW: Well, it’s funny. A lot of it is credit to Laura, because I came from television and [I thought], “They’re not going to do our show, so let’s focus on people who do TV and do episodic work.” And she would have this wish list of directors she wants to work with, and she’d be like, “Let’s go to this person.” I’ve also had the experience where you work on a show and you don’t need some visionary to come in. It’s a different kind of muscle, a different kind of mindset, and sometimes I’ve had cool, fancy directors come on other things and you’re like, “I don’t need you to reinvent the wheel here.” The thing about Enlightened is that because each script had its own tone, it felt like it was elastic enough that it could allow people with a strong point of view to attack it and it would still be the same show. 

I felt like a lot of it was choosing which episode would be the right episode. Phil Morrison seemed like the right guy to direct the Helen episode, and I had written episode six, and I was like, “If there was ever a Todd Haynes Enlightened, this was it.” He really loved Helen’s house, he loved the dynamic between Amy and Helen. It had that sort of hypnotic, moving backward into this deeper nostalgia or something that I felt was just so Todd. [Laughs.] And he liked the script, so it felt like a no-brainer. 

AVC: The visuals are so important on this show. Do you write to that?

MW: I definitely like to write to it. There’s certain inserts—like the plastic swans in the pool, that stuff, most of the time, is scripted. I’m trying to go for a certain kind of poetry with the show, because if you don’t put it on the page, they tend to not shoot it. For instance, when we did the pilot and we were in Hawaii, we took the camera crew out, and we were under the trees, the guy who was our money man was like, “What is this, a nature shot?” [Laughs.] And I was like, this guy isn’t going to get what we’re doing. 

I felt like, we’re at HBO, they have the resources, this is my moment to reach for a certain aesthetic ambition that you don’t have the luxury to try to do if you’re doing a Fox show or an hour show on a seven-and-a-half-day shoot. There’s no way; you can’t do that kind of thing. At the same time, I feel like it also builds over time, so you’ve created this motif and we can come back to this in a poetic, lyrical kind of way. I like Abaddonn; it’s fun to have a reason for all of these little things that you’re playing in the margins. So that, hopefully, when people go back and watch again, they catch things they didn’t see. It is called Enlightened, and it is about someone having a numinous experience, so there’s a lot of playing with things, calling to her in the margins and speaking to Amy. There’s a little symbolism everywhere, and that part of it is so fun to do, sit with a production designer, trying to choose things. Everything is a choice. 

AVC: Helen was really important to season one, and she seemed to step back in season two. But she had a really big moment in this episode. How do you decide how to balance all those elements?

MW: It’s hard. If we had a third season, Helen would loom larger than she did even in the first season. There were things, again, that I wanted to accomplish, and that relationship didn’t really play into it. The idea is that the hacking, this whole Abaddonn plot was being culminated and it’s pivoting in that direction. I would have loved to use Diane [Ladd] more. Certainly if we have another season, Cogentiva is blown out, so the personal stuff would loom a lot larger.

AVC: You’ve also got the romance that builds up, finally, between Amy and Jeff. And then Levi comes back. Where did that idea come from?

MW: Well, I knew it would be fun for her to have this relationship with the journalist and I felt like the audience would be ahead of her in that relationship, because they’d see that he has a much bigger life than she does. So even if he liked her, she’s not going to do the same things for him that he’s doing for her in a personal sense. The idea that Levi would come back to create this triangle, it’s a choice between the past and the future. You can understand why she’s choosing the future and choosing Jeff, but ultimately, there is no choice. There’s a big choice, but there’s no choice. In fact, she doesn’t have either, because Levi is promising something that it’s questionable whether he can deliver. And Jeff really isn’t promising anything. So it’s slightly a romantic tragedy, that episode. 

AVC: How much do you believe in Levi’s change, his shift for the better?

MW: They say in A.A., you can’t pin it all on [someone else], and he’s pinning it all on her. If she doesn’t live up to what he wants, what is supposed to happen? And that’s what he asks her in the next episode. What am I supposed to do now? The way he used to self-medicate to make himself feel better, she’s taken that away, and then she’s not there. If there’s a third season, I’d like to figure out a way to use him in an unexpected way where it’s not like he’s back on the bottle and walking into walls. That’s something we’ll have more opportunity to explore.

AVC: How do you arrive at the musical choices in this show?

MW: It’s tough. It’s like the biggest part of post. Mark [Mothersbaugh, who writes the score] is awesome. He has such a dynamic range, but we thought when we embarked on the second season we could just repurpose a lot of the music we found for the first season because there were a lot of emotional tones in that season. But we started to realize that almost every episode this season—if you look at the eight episodes this season—tonally the first one is kind of a potboiler thriller; the second one is this absurdist, black comedy, and so on and so on. As they go along, they have their own musical language, and I think we drove Mark crazy because with each one, there was a new nut to crack. And that doesn’t usually happen on TV series because you have a tone that is consistent. Maybe things have to be altered, but they don’t have to be completely reinvented. But with this show, we really had to do that. 

As far as picking the specific music source cues, that’s fun. We have the luxury of a little bit more time in post than most shows, at least with my experience with network television. So listening to music as I’m driving along to figure out which is the right song to take us out of episode five and finding the Joanna Newsom thing and laying it in and figuring out, “Oh, wow. This really works,” is fun.

[pagebreak]

AVC: How did you arrive at the story of Szidon bribing the senators as sort of the driving source of the season? 

MW: In the end, we needed something that transcended just their dumpers [the Cogentiva people, who are going to be fired], things that companies do. But in the end, it’s just how you feel in real life: This guy is going down because he did X, or Eliot Spitzer, “He slept with a prostitute!” And you go, “This is why someone is in trouble?” There’s so many things that are just intrinsic to the way corporations work or the way the government works, where you’re like, “This doesn’t seem like this is ethically right.” And then there are these little things that trip people up and send them to “Do Not Collect $200, go straight to [jail],” you know? So you just wonder and you don’t want to get bogged down.

I felt like in the end, that’s a mystery plot. It becomes about this specific thing that seems really unethical, but in the end, it’s really a critique of how the system works and not so much, “Oh, this is what makes them so bad,” like, “There’s radiation and they’re exposing people to it!” Because then that allows us to say what is bad, and it’s a way to put it all on a topical issue. Even the bribing the senator, I kind of was like, “I need to come up with something, and I needed to talk about how corporations are basically our power, and that government is basically dancing for the man, which are the corporations.” So I wanted to find something along those lines, and Laura was pushing for more specific things, because there are a lot of things that outrage her about what’s going on in the political sphere and corporations. From a narrative point of view, I don’t think people come to fiction for those kinds of satisfactions. Because it’s fake. It’s not a real company. So, really, it’s about how it’s applied, as opposed to how something is true to life, like the Law & Order type of thing. Like the topic of the week.    

No Doubt” (February 24, 2013)
Amy finally gets a one-on-one with Abaddonn CEO Charles Szidon, and he’s not the monster she’s painted him as. But Jeff’s story is running, and nothing she does will stop it.

AVC: Szidon is pretty sensible in the moment. Where did that decision come from?

MW: A lot of it was about casting and how do you cast someone where he has two main scenes. The first one is, he is charming and personable and offers her the job, and then the other he goes batshit crazy and yells at her. So you want an actor who, when he goes off the rails like that, you aren’t expecting it. A lot of actors, especially at that age, have played the heavy at some point. And we got lucky because James Rebhorn is very elegant and has this kind of warmth. Because I felt like it would be more interesting when he is screaming at the elevators and she has gotten underneath his skin. 

Sure, Jon Ronson has a book saying that psychopaths run corporations, and I believe there are psychopaths running them. But when you sit with real people with real power, they’re human. They have compelling points of view on stuff, and it’s never so simple when you’re face-to-face with someone who is making real decisions that impact a lot of people. So it made more sense to try to have him have a coherent and sane way of discussing this with her. At the same time, the thing I found fun about this episode is that they kept telling her, “He’s positive; stay positive,” because that’s the nature of success in the capitalist spirit, the positive go-getter and all those sorts of things. But when you flip it, his point of view is so cynical and so negative. She’s negative, but when you scratch the surface, at the heart of what she is doing is so hopeful and not cynical, and that’s something I find so true about how people succeed in capitalism: You put on the face of a salesman, but what you’re selling is this dark, very short-term view of getting what’s yours before it’s all gone. At the same time, these people in the streets that are activists have this face of anger, but underneath it there’s this beautiful hopefulness that things can change and that by going on the streets and taking power, we can create a more just and beautiful society.

AVC: This episode has a lot to accomplish to get to the finale. Was it difficult to shift this show into a more plot-based storytelling? 

MW: Yeah, but I like plot. I really do. It was just, the first season I was trying to do something a little bit more experimental. But I feel like this season is stronger because of the plot. Just for the satisfaction of the viewer, this sense that you feel like you’re on a track, and there’s a more compulsive quality to it that makes the experience richer. 

AVC: You mentioned that one of the themes of the show is how to live an ethical life when you’re working for a giant corporation. Is there a way to do that, and what is the answer you’re trying to provide through Enlightened?

MW: I guess the essence of the show is the consideration, “What is the criteria of success in our culture?” Is it our ability to make money and consume? In the end, how do we treat each other? I guess I can only come at it from my perspective, from living in this business where you have your ideals and then you have what the world wants to see, and also what corporations that provide the entertainment to people, what they think people want to see. We end up seeing each other in this mutual-user sort of relationship, and, ultimately, over time we see each other like, “These people are only friends with rich people.” You’re only friends with people who can help you. How do we run away from the suffering of other people, and how do we create entertainment that ignores the suffering of other people? What’s fucked up about our world? We’re distracting ourselves to death. And over time, you’re like, “I want to get at these things,” but at the same time, nobody wants that from you. [Laughs.] 

Amy’s journey is, “Even if my work isn’t set up to affirm this, how do I make this meaningful, and how do I be the change I want to see?” And, obviously, the show is conflicted because there’s no easy answer to that. There are heroes of our culture; there are people that are firemen and nurses and teachers, and there are people who volunteer, who do selfless things to make our world better. And I could focus on the people who do those things, but I felt like it would make more sense to have a person in a job where it’s not so clear what their value was, someone who isn’t quote-unquote “good.” Yet they want to apply this sense of, “How can I be good, I’m not storming into burning buildings and rescuing children?” They’re not, I don’t know, safeguarding the nation. I’m not a forensic analyst of crime scenes. [Laughs.] So at least if the second season is the end, the show’s mission statement is that it is a valuable struggle and there is hope that you can be a positive change. At the same time, it’s not so simple, and you should be aware that it starts with you and how you treat the people around you first of all. Beyond torching the bad corporation to the ground.

AVC: These last two episodes deal quite a bit with Krista. That character seems like she would have been easy to remove, but she’s there throughout. What do you see as that character’s role?

MW: To me, Krista is Amy’s Achilles heel, and that’s why I felt it was important to keep her there. There’s a reading of the show that is like the “baby envy” reading of Amy, and the show itself is the kind of mischief people can get into if they don’t have kids to distract them. [Laughs.] Amy seeing Krista being pregnant and having all the things that she maybe wanted at one point, but now the milk has been spilt, and there’s no going back there—there’s something about Krista’s complacency and the simple pleasures of Krista’s life that drives Amy crazy. She sees the husband coming to work to visit her and kissing the baby belly and all the friends excited for her, and she doesn’t see it as, “Oh, I’m jealous of this,” she sees it as, “This is what’s wrong with America!” [Laughs.] Everybody’s excited about their own little sphere, and they don’t care about the babies suffering on the street and things like that. 

So I felt like the culmination of that was Krista having her baby and having her moment, the most personal, emotional moment of her life, and then Amy comes in and says, “You fucked me! You fucked me, Krista!” She’s so wrong, and that’s the part of Amy that is her Achilles heel, but, at the same time, that’s not the only part of her. So that felt like the right end to that relationship, having her looking back at the hospital after ripping Krista a new one for no reason at the most inopportune moment. But I relate that to me; sometimes you see that if you’re concerned with these bigger questions, you can get kind of crazed. I remember when I first became a vegan—I wrote a movie about this—suddenly your mind is in the slaughterhouse all the time. “They’re killing animals, and it’s disgusting the way they do it!” And you see people eating their lunch and feeding their kids, and you’re like, “Can’t you see what’s happening!” I think that Krista isn’t a bitch. She’s just somebody that isn’t thinking about these bigger things; she’s just living her life. And that’s fine. That’s totally valid. And for Amy, there’s this connection between the personal jealousies of the life she could have had and seeing that there is something wrong with that and that there is something that Krista should be doing. She’s constantly trying to evangelize to Krista. 

Agent Of Change” (March 3, 2013)
Abaddonn discovers that Jeff’s story exists, and Amy is called upstairs for one last meeting with her corporate masters.

AVC: You said in other interviews that you always wanted Amy to succeed here. But did you alter anything in case it would become a series finale?

MW: I wrote it as the end of the show, which kind of hurts my argument for another season, creatively, to HBO. It really does end. It is the summation of the show, which isn’t to say we couldn’t have another summation at the end of the third season. I just thought it was a protective thing of the work.  I wanted to make sure that if it did end, if people came late to it after if it was over, that it is its own self-contained thing gives it more of a life. It’s like a movie in that if you feel like the ending doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter what came before it. Certain series, as we know, if the ending doesn’t land, you sort of look back at the show in a different way. So I really want this to feel like it does fulfill the stuff set up for her. So if we did have a third season, I’d have to re-pivot and give it a whole new idea, give her a whole new internal journey as well as an external journey, but that would be something fun to do. Even if the third season didn’t end as satisfying as the second season, it would still be its own little beast. 

AVC: There’s that great moment where Amy gets to tell off Szidon and all the other people about whether making money is all that matters. How much of that, in your mind, was playing to what’s been happening in the country the last 10 to 20 years?

MW: I felt like it was really important, especially after the scene with Krista and all the wildness we got into, that when she sits with Szidon, she lands her points. Otherwise, you’d feel like this whole thing was a fool’s errand. I wanted to bring it down to the most simple idea, which is the cornerstone of the critique of the capitalist system we’re in right now: Aren’t there values more important than profit? Is that something worth considering at the highest levels of business? When you look at it from not just the S&Ls and the banks and the housing market and the Bernie Madoffs and all the extreme stuff, we’re becoming these desperate housewives trying to sell our brands. We’re all these entrepreneurial people trying to sell things to each other. The way we look at each other has changed. I think social media also has something to do with that. There’s a good side, but there’s also the other side as well, which is “followers” and “liking.” There’s a capitalist element to it because we become reduced to what we’re selling. The Supreme Court says the corporation is a person, but what’s even weirder is that the person has become a corporation. At the core of it feels like, “Wait a minute. Yeah, it’s nice to create all this wealth, but is there a sense of a community and a sense of values that go beyond this capitalist way of looking at ourselves?”

AVC: Amy telling Eileen that Tyler had nothing to do with this feels like a real moment of emotional breakthrough for her. How did you arrive at that to be her moment of empathy?

MW: You’re right. It was important for her not just to win this bigger battle, but it was important for her to recognize how big of an emotional damage this did to someone who was there from the beginning, like Tyler. It’s a really redemptive moment for her, and it was about her making an effort at that moment to make that right for him. And that’s how drama works. She can win that other thing, but if she fucks up Tyler and Eileen’s relationship, you’re never going to like her. [Laughs.]

AVC: You’ve also got Helen saying Amy’s going to ruin a lot of people’s lives. How important was it for you to work that in?

MW: I think everything Helen was saying was completely valid. But this is the thing we’re always telling ourselves, where it’s like living in this world of the corporation. These are the people that pay your bills. How far can you bite the hand that feeds you? And Helen is saying, “There are things that are bigger than you. This isn’t all about your [journey].” I guess on one level, I’m on Amy’s side, but I feel like it’s also important to lend a voice to the fear of rocking the boat. That is the king that allows you to live, in a sense. That’s real. 

AVC: You’ve talked a lot about your love of reality television in other interviews. What do you think you bring from that to a show like Enlightened?

MW: I like observing. When I was a kid, I watched every movie and every TV show, and I was a culture vulture. But when I started writing my own stuff, I didn’t want to be writing in reaction to genre; I wanted to write about life. So I became more about watching less stuff and becoming more observational about life and having more to say about life and not other TV shows and movies. I still like to watch TV, but I think even in the dumbest formats, you can glean more about human behavior in reality TV than in some of the best scripted television. Which isn’t to say I don’t think there’s value in scripted television, but sometimes it’s hard for me to compose while I’m listening to other people’s music. It’s easier for me to watch reality television and not have it reflecting what it is I’m doing at that moment or what I’m writing. When I’m watching a sitcom or a drama, I get that anxiety of like, “I’ve got to get back to work.” You can’t help but start to realize that you’re swimming in the same pool. So I like reality television basically because it’s character studies, sometimes extreme character studies. 

AVC: You’ve talked about what you’d like to do in season three. If you got a season three, do you see life beyond it for the show?

MW: This could potentially be the question that comes up when I get the call. Sometimes, with struggling shows at HBO, they’ll give a six-episode order to finish the show. I don’t need that, because if the idea is a graceful exit, we’ve already made a graceful exit. If there’s a hope that because of some of the sort of buzz that’s come within the last couple weeks about the show that makes them think there’s a possible future for the show, that’s exciting to me because that’s how I want to approach it: We make something this time for people to keep finding the show. And if we can only come to a small order, that really is another stuttering way out the door. It doesn’t really make sense to me to do it, because I feel like the show has a nice closure to it as it is. If we get another season, I’d like it to be ambitious and have more ideas and new characters, and something that can take us into seasons beyond it.

Filed Under: TV, Enlightened

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