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From the same journal

‘Enlightened Melodrama: Excess, Care and Resistance in Contemporary Television’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 5 Aug 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 11 Dec 2019
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)606-623
Early online date11/12/19
Original languageEnglish


This essay explores Enlightened (HBO, 2011-2013) in relation to recent scholarly
developments in our understanding of melodrama and television, particularly in
work by Linda Williams and Jason Mittell. It argues that the series offers an
example of the kind of ‘politically efficiacous’ drama that Williams finds in The
Wire through attention to its use of excess. Dismissed in some part because of its
association with soap operas, excess, as a feature within melodrama, is something
that we need to better understand in terms of its function in contemporary television.
In Enlightened, excess is used to highlight the contradiction between the care of the
self and the care of others. Embodied by Amy in terms of her performance of care,
her facial expressions, and clothes, excess works to map out the journey of selftransformation
offered in the series. This essay also focuses particular attention on
the trope of mothering, both in terms of the mother-daughter relationship and a
broader understanding of mothering that Amy embraces in her quest to be an ‘agent
of change.’

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© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Screen. All rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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