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Lucky Hank Review: Bob Odenkirk Masters the Art of the Midlife Crisis

Odenkirk returns to AMC as a college professor in the likable new series

Kyle Fowle
Bob Odenkirk, Lucky Hank

Bob Odenkirk, Lucky Hank

Sergei Bachlakov/AMC

Few get the opportunity to make a truly indelible mark on TV, but Bob Odenkirk has built one hell of a career. Perhaps his legacy would have already been secured after the hilarious Mr. Show aired, but who then could have predicted that after so much comedy Odenkirk would deliver one of TV's greatest, most complex dramatic performances across six seasons of Better Call Saul

Odenkirk brings that great balance between comedy and drama back to AMC with Lucky Hank, a series about a college professor who's seriously feeling his middle age. Based on the Richard Russo novel Straight Man, the show stars Odenkirk as William Henry "Hank" Devereaux Jr., a creative writing teacher and chair of the English department at the fictional Railton College in Pennsylvania. Hank has a successful career and a wife, Lily (Mireille Enos), who adores him, and he's published one novel to some mild acclaim. By almost any standard he's living a comfortable, full life. 

It's not enough though. When Hank's estranged father makes national headlines after his retirement, feelings of inadequacy start to creep in. Mix those feelings with a daughter (Olivia Scott Welch) who's seemingly incapable of finding her own way in life, a group of quirky colleagues, and a feud with a hilariously full-of-himself student writer (Jackson Kelly), and you have the perfect recipe for a midlife crisis. 


Lucky Hank


  • Odenkirk shines as the soulful and prickly Hank
  • Great supporting cast
  • Balance of drama and comedy


  • Takes some time to find its voice

As dour as this may sound, Lucky Hank is not a sad show. It interrogates uncomfortable feelings with nuance and grace, but this is hardly a show just about Hank's ennui. In fact, there's a whole cast of supporting characters who bring this Pennsylvania campus to life, and it's that "lived-in" feel that really helps make the show something special to watch. Whether it's colleagues arguing over a parking space or professors butting heads with the dean over all manner of bureaucratic nonsense, Lucky Hank does a wonderful job of adapting the campus novel for the small screen. It doesn't take the show long to establish these various characters and their unique tics, and while the overall feeling is that these people who share a campus are all so different, they essentially form their own little community that Hank, despite his occasionally gruff attitude, finds it hard to separate himself from.

Lucky Hank probably won't be for everybody because of its tone, which is sometimes difficult to pin down. Its humor can be dry and dark, and the more optimistic moments are often followed by a hard dose of reality. But if you're willing to sit with the ennui and really give the ensemble a chance, you'll be rewarded with a unique, moving, very human show.

Premieres: Sunday, March 19 at 9/8c on AMC and AMC+
Who's in it: Bob Odenkirk, Mireille Enos, Suzanne Cryer, Olivia Scott Welch, Diedrich Bader
Who's behind it: Aaron Zelman and Paul Lieberstein (creators)
For fans of: Men of a Certain Age, Girls, Normal People
How many episodes we watched: 2 of 8