Women, Careers And Better Call Saul

Donna Bowman

Exclusive to the Working Woman Report

Television loves stories about men at work.

Better Call Saul is a show about such a man—a shady lawyer with an inflatable Statue of Liberty on his strip-mall roof and an ostentatious Constitution mural in his office.

It’s about where this man came from, and maybe also where he’s going after his work forces him to adopt a new identity as a Cinnabon manager in Omaha.

It’s a show, in other words, about television’s favorite kind of character for at least the past two decades: the antihero, the morally compromised man who digs himself deeper into tragedy because of some stubborn streak of masculinity or lust for power.

But in its second season, Better Call Saul has also become perhaps the best show about a working woman currently airing on television. She is Kim Wexler, a fourth-year associate at a successful Albuquerque law firm. When we first met her last year, she was Jimmy’s friend and sometime love interest, someone who understood him better than the other suits in the firm’s board room and did her best to help him, despite her frustration with his seeming propensity for self-sabotage.

In two remarkable episodes this season, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, along with their close-knit team of writers (including Breaking Bad veteran Gennifer Hutchison), have turned the spotlight on Kim, allowing her to emerge as a full-fledged protagonist in her own right. And they’ve done it by showing her at work.

How many television series, when the time comes to give depth or motivation to women, shift the setting to their home, family, or romantic life? Or add scenes showing their relationship with parents, children, spouses or exes? Those are the encounters and concerns that define the whole woman, unlike work which engages only a shallow portion of her being—or so it’s often assumed.

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