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The curmudgeonly chair of an English Department at an underfunded Pennsylvania university, Hank Devereaux’s life starts to unravel after he erupts at one of his students in this sharp comedy-drama adapted from the Pulitzer-Prize winning Richard Russo novel, Straight Man.
Bob Odenkirk stars as Hank in his first show since Better Call Saul, and the AMC series was adapted by Paul Lieberstein (The Office) and Aaron Zelman (Damages), with directors including Peter Farrelly (Green Book).
Co-stars include Mireille Enos (The Killing), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), Oscar Nunez (The Office), Chris Diamantopoulos (Silicon Valley), and Tom Bower (Ray Donovan).
Teetering between sentimental and biting comedy, Lucky Hank takes us into a midlife crisis that all ages of adults can relate to right now, as this one holds a mirror to our collective questioning around our devotion to work, the definitions of success, and the communities that have been chosen for us by our jobs.
The big draw is Odenkirk, of course, who deftly squeezes charisma and comedy from even the sorriest overly-loquacious characters. Here he finds a natural if unlikely hero in a college professor who often talks himself into trouble. Lucky Hank has firmly lower stakes than Odenkirk’s other AMC universe, but brings rich coloring in its overlooked but still picture-perfect deep Pennsylvania campus, it’s often hilarious and endearing cast of colleagues and family members.
After writing and acting on The Office, Lieberstein, who played Toby, wanted to work on a show set at a university setting to write “smarter characters” he’s said in interviews. “And I love this idea about tenure where you are trapped in success…it just allows people to behave very badly in a semi-protected way.”
Fans of Saul and Breaking Bad might find some relief in seeing Odenkirk exercise his comedy chops and get a few breaks from his previous world — which was a big part of the appeal for the actor himself. “I liked that this guy [Hank] loves his wife and she loves him,” Odenkirk explained in an interview with AMC. “I liked that he loved his daughter and even though they fight, she loves him… I just like the positive sides to it in relation to ‘Saul’.”
To be sure, Hank wears his pessimism on his sleeve, lacks a filter, and debates the entire pursuit of contentment. But he does so with a sense of humor that lets Hank, unlike Sal, be in on the joke.
An antidote to the darker worlds currently trending across the streamers, Lucky Hank also delivers a refreshingly new Odenkirk character, a guy whose meltdown might just deliver your own much-needed catharsis — leaving you laughing and pondering and lingering to see what comes next.
Where to find it: AMC, BBCA, IFC, AMC+