As an attorney, you would think I would love legal TV shows.
But I don't.
Primarily, because legal TV shows - particularly, legal procedurals - don't reflect the true practice of law -- at all.
Let's just say, justice doesn't ever get served as quickly and as neatly as most legal TV shows depict within 60 minutes.
And it's hard for me to not get distracted when I see supposed, seasoned lawyers regurgitating simple legal premises that a law student would have learned in 1L Torts for no other purpose than to educate the audience of the legal premises that are affecting the current storyline.
Needless to say, TV legal shows seem really fake to me...
...until I started to watch Better Call Saul.
Although I grew to love the morally challenged criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman, on one of my all time favorite TV shows, AMC's Emmy award-winning Breaking Bad, I didn't make a point to watch it when it first premiered because it was still a TV show about a lawyer.
But I'm glad my curiosity got the best of me.
[NOTE: You can catch up on Season 1 on Netflix now.]
This TV legal serial, a spinoff prequel to be exact, lets us in on the making of Saul Goodman, initially introduced to us in Breaking Bad by the character Jessie Pinkman as the exact type of lawyer a criminal wants to hire -- a criminal, criminal lawyer.
Later in that introductory episode, during the initial legal consultation with the character Walter White, Saul Goodman casually admits his real last name is McGill. He says he changed it because clients like the Jewish thing.
Better Call Saul is the story of how the name change actually unfolded - how Jimmy McGill ultimately becomes Saul Goodman.
It's currently in the middle of its second season and it has far more depth and character development than most of the legal TV shows -if not all -- I've ever seen.
Thus far, each season has opened with Saul Goodman in his present predicament -- living under the radar as a Cinnabon restaurant manager in Omaha, Nebraska - after having to leave town to save his life in Breaking Bed.
Each time, we find a gray, dreary and lonely Saul Goodman constantly looking over his shoulder because he's on the run; while, still mourning his past life as a successful criminal lawyer.
As a lawyer, it speaks volumes that Saul Goodman would risk keeping a video of his cheesy Better Call Saul TV ads to reminisce. This damaging evidence suggests his willingness to lose his freedom -- and even his life -- to not forget who he once was.
Then the credits roll...
And we're transferred back in time around 2002 when Jimmy McGill is first making it as a criminal defense attorney, played flawlessly by Bob Odenkirk.
Having spent some time prosecuting at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, this was one of the first times I've watched a legal TV show that reflected the realities surrounding the criminal court system and consequently, didn't make me want to change the channel (and yes, I've watched Law & Order and still changed the channel).
The role of prosecutor and criminal defense attorney isn't glorified. The deals are shown like they really unfold - sometimes even in the restroom. And the money made by lawyers isn't at all what you think it would be.
Being able to tolerate the legal backdrop of course allowed me the opportunity to get hooked by the storylines of characters we already know and love like Mike Ehrmantraut and Tuco Salamanca.
Finding out Mike's involvement in his son's death gives tremendous insight on why he was willing to die in Breaking Bad as long as his granddaughter was taken care of in the end.
Tuco was such a colorful character as a drug lord that learning about his family dynamics and dysfunction definitely makes for great television.
However, what I like most was the introduction of two new characters, Kim Wexler and Jimmy McGill's brother, Charles "Chuck" McGill. Both these new additions are seasoned lawyers and highlight the high road of legal practice. They are mentors and people that Jimmy doesn't want to disappoint.
But what I like best about both their character portrayals is how they illustrate that the high road is filled with it's own pitfalls and challenges as well.
Kim has reasoned herself into a job where she's unappreciated and Chuck has rationalized a mental condition into a physical condition with ease.
Ultimately, we learn that the reasonable or logical choice doesn't always guarantee good results -- or at least, happy ones -- in our outcomes.
I'd say more but I don't want to spoil any more of this great TV show for you.
And so I'm signing off on this Tuesday's edition of Rosanna's Take, while I eagerly wait for the next episode of Better Call Saul on Monday night. I recommend you check it out too.Suggest a correction