It’s ironic but the personal meltdown that accompanied the cancellation of Mike White’s last series, Cracking Up, led the writer and actor to his latest acclaimed TV show.

“I had TV experiences that have been really painful in that you kill yourself and then they bury the show,” said the School of Rock writer/star recently about returning to television with Enlightened.

“Sometimes the hardest part is going back to real life and try to put these idealistic notions into practice and I think that’s sort of the spirit of what the show is.”

Co-created with Laura Dern, the HBO series examines a woman who returns to her corporate lifestyle with a new-age lease on life after having a very public breakdown at the office.


Like many of White’s more independent films (such as Chuck & Buck), the comedy has a melancholic subtlety.

“Because the character isn’t an every-person, you kind of have to decide to follow her,” said White.

“The cool part of TV is that you can continue to unfold a story and show a character in all of its dimensions and I think that hopefully the quality of the show will keep people coming back to it.”

Enlightened has been steadily gaining fans and as White waits to hear whether the series (which airs Mondays on HBO Canada) will be renewed for another season, he remains unsure of whether another meltdown is also on the horizon.

“(I’m) facing it with a mixture of anticipation, excitement and kind of dread because it’s a lot of work,” laughed White.

“At the same time, there’s something about this character that I relate to and in a way I think this first season is all set up ... the story of someone going up against a company and trying to change it from within can really get juicy.”

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