Less than five minutes into Lucky Hank, Robert Odenkirk had a spectacular breakdown. Well, at least his on-screen persona does. Odenkirk portrays Hank Devereux Jr., a frustrated English professor who yells at his pupils in class at the start of the programme. Hank’s rant in reaction to their complaints about his obvious dissonance from teaching properly captures his mental condition. He assures the group that they will never succeed and makes sure that at least one of his pupils is aware that he is in no way the “next Chaucer.” Why? Because they are all confined to Railton College in Pennsylvania, often known as “mediocrity’s capital.” The dilemma facing Lucky Hank’s protagonist begins at this point.
Although Hank is the department chair for English, it may not be his ideal employment (or so he thinks). After his outburst becomes famous, he is excited about the possibility of getting demoted. This pivotal opening scene wasn’t originally planned, according to series writers Paul Lieberstein and Aaron Zelman, who spoke with The A.V. Club. Many different drafts of the pilot were written, but not at this moment. Since we had been writing Hank for some time, Lieberstein adds, we had been wondering what he was like in the classroom. Zelman continues, “We recognised, ‘Alright, it’s working.'” They finally got it after this monologue came around.
On Richard Russo’s popular 1997 book Straight Man, Lucky Hank is based. Blending dry humour with genuine drama was the toughest problem of the adaptation, Odenkirk recently admitted to The A.V. Club (the latter of which he perfected during six seasons of Better Call Saul). Zelman and Lieberstein both concur. “Telling a visual story about a passive protagonist was challenging. We couldn’t go past that because, according to Zelman, “writing about what’s inside his thoughts makes it simpler to explore it in a novel.” Therefore, as a guy with a dry, jokey voice, we had to make him purposefully avoid things.
But the show’s star actor is one of the reasons it works. Bob wasn’t on the list while the show was being developed since he was unavailable, but after Aaron got to know him from another project, and it was revealed that Saul’s final season, Lieberstein says, “of course, we asked him.”
The show’s humour is subtle and biting, but it differs from Odenkirk’s and Lieberstein’s previous expertise in sketch comedy on Mr Show and Saturday Night Live. He contributed to The Office as a showrunner, writer, and actor (playing HR manager Toby Flenderson, Michael Scott’s biggest adversary). Even Oscar Nuez, a recurring character from his NBC series, is here. The background of his creative collaborator is what Zelman refers to as his “hidden weapon.”
By no means is Lucky Hank a joke about the office. With Julie, Hank and Lily’s daughter, the programme blends a marriage drama with a family drama (Olivia Scott-Welch). Also, it delves deeply into Hank’s relationships with his pals, notably his close friend Tony (Diedrich Bader). Yet, Lieberstein is aware that the work environment was unavoidable. Actually, he was drawn to the book because of its academic content. “We know people who live there, and workplace [examinations] seem to be commonplace,” Hank frequently has disagreements with his coworkers (played by performers such as Suzanne Cryer and Cedric Yarborough), especially in the first episode when everyone is furious about him criticizing their company in the viral video.
“All of a sudden, I feel like I’m in my sweet zone where the coworkers bicker, and each has their own agenda, and we can be humorous with it,” the actor said of the group scenes at Hank’s office. Lucky Hank is The Office, but smarter, according to Lieberstein’s joke. Oh my God, that saying will now be used everywhere.