Better Call Saul and Ozark are both multiple Emmy nominated shows and generally praised by fans and critics alike. As I have said before elsewhere, for me the writing just feels a cut above what anyone else is doing on TV. In fact the only other show I felt the same way about for some time was Game of Thrones, but it felt like the writers traded character for spectacle in the last couple season of that show and it had a negative impact on the ending of that show.
Showrunners of Better Call Saul (Peter Gould) and Ozark (Chris Mundy), recently did an extensive interview with Variety about their critically lauded shows. The writers talked about the process of writing and how you must always follow the path of the character, not subvert the character to what you need and event to happen, because it feels false. However, let’s let Gould and Mundy speak for themselves shall we?
Mundy: If you’re making a decision based on, “Oh this is the franchise of the TV show,” it’s probably going to be a bad decision. You’re thinking like a business person then; you’re not thinking like a writer. If it feels like these people are going to do it, you just have to trust that it’s right. I think you can talk yourself into bad decisions because they seem safe, and that’s never a good reason to do anything. None of the shows I’ve ever cared about made safe decisions.
Gould: I agree 100%. Usually when we get stuck in the writers’ room it’s because we made an assumption — that we took for granted something about the character or thought we knew them in some way. It’s always when we jump back and say, “Where’s Jimmy’s head at? Where’s Chuck’s head at? Where’s Kim’s head at?” that we really get going. One thing we constantly do in the room that would probably be annoying to an outsider is retell the story to each other — because usually the answers are in things that already happened, rather than in things that you want to get to. There’s often this glittering prize of a scene or a character turn that you want to reach for, but if the characters don’t want to reach for it, it’s going to feel false.
Mundy: Yeah, you can’t work towards an event or an incident because then you’re just talking yourself into why these people would do that thing. Instead, if you’re just figuring them out, they’ll get you to where you’re going.
See, this is exactly why I love both these shows and it demonstrates perfectly for anyone at HBO, or showrunners Benioff and Weiss why Season 8 of Game of Thrones was so heavily criticised. The show had the characters doing things in order to set up events, instead of the events being set up by the natural arcs of the characters. Better Call Saul is already almost in Season 5 and Jimmy McGill still hasn’t become Saul Goodman yet, because the character has only just begun to exist in a place where Saul could be created after the events of the previous four seasons of the show.
RELATED: Better Call Saul Showrunner Says Season 5 Has An Episode That’s More What He Expected From The Start
Good advice for any aspiring writers out there, make good writing decisions, not good business decisions. And on that bombshell, let us know what you thought of Gould and Mundy’s comments on their writing process in the usual spot below, if you have a minute to do so?
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