On Tonight: Laura Dern in ‘Enlightened’

Laura Dern is just right as the wronged and hysteric young woman in the center of“Enlightened” (HBO, 9:30 p.m.). Rightfully enraged by being used and tossed away by a married boss, she sinks into debt in order to get her rage under control, only to return to the firm and be shunted to the basement.

There among other misfits, she begins to plot a way to shake the company out of its world-polluting ways. Mike White, who wrote the series with Dern in mind, also plays a meek coworker who kind of likes her. Luke Wilson lives up to his image as an out of shape stoner as her ex husband. And Diane Ladd, Dern’s real life moher, once more portrays the mom of one of her characters and does it beautifully, this time adding a harrowing coldness that is probably more harmful than the callousness of the company.

Part of “Enlightened” is cringe comedy – what terrible thing is she going to embarrass herself doing next? But deeply embedded in it is this notion that she’ll actually rise above her troubles and all will be right.

In that, it’s the perfect series for the modern malaise, with an engaging manic energy.

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