By Gabrielle Laws
Heels hit the tiled floor in quick succession as Kim Wexler, wearing a navy blue suit, quickly follows Jimmy McGill. Something is amiss, she notices, before blurting out, “Wait, what?” McGill turns around and points finger guns at Wexler, smiles, and says, “S’all good, man.” McGill proceeds to turn and keeps following a secretary down the hall. He’s off to sign the paperwork that will allow him to practice law again and change the name he works under to Saul Goodman. The camera pans out slowly and shows Wexler standing alone, and the screen cuts to black.
“I got chills when I first watched it. It topped off what was already an outstanding episode in a perfect way,” explains mega fan Gabe Kanter. The scene was what he was waiting to see for the last four seasons.
Before McGill’s interaction with Wexler, he was at his appeal hearing to get reinstated as a lawyer. There, McGill used his brother’s death to manipulate his way to the verdict of reinstatement. This scene showed a shift in McGill’s character that audiences were waiting for.
The Season Four finale of Better Call Saul aired in fall 2018, while Season Five did not begin until early 2020. The wait was long, but the new episodes gave Kanter something to look forward to amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lockdowns slowed Kanter’s work as an on-call general labourer on TV sets and a part-time usher at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. In his free time, he started watching more TV shows, either by himself or with his mom or brother, who moved back home from B.C. After watching shows together, he would chat with his mom. Whenever they would ask his brother for his opinion, Kanter would get a short answer like, “It was a good show.” He wished for a friend who watched the same shows and thought about them as deeply as he did.
When he found Luke Dougherty in the comments section of a YouTube video where Doughtery laid out his favourite shows, Kanter replied. He realized they had similar tastes and that they had actually interacted in other comments sections before. They started to have more detailed conversations and switched to chatting on Reddit. In this time, where everyone is more isolated than ever, Kanter found someone who matched his pace when it came to TV shows.
From this new connection, Kanter got the idea of starting a podcast. Once Dougherty agreed, TV Sessions was born.
Kanter explains that he would have never thought of meeting people online or starting a podcast until he met Dougherty. Even though Kanter lived in Toronto and Dougherty lives in Ottawa, Illinois, it did not stop them from getting to know each other.
The shows they talk about in TV Sessions are the ones they are most passionate about, Kanter explains. They talk about the series they think are the best of all time, and they don’t just discuss topics the audience wants to hear.
Kanter’s studio features a Beatles poster and a dark purple desk. It’s home to a black Acer laptop, black corded headphones and a black corded mouse. Surrounding the computer is a tiny black notebook, a printer, a tripod for his phone, a paper tower organizer, two cups that contain a variety of writing instruments, and a miniature Canadian flag.
When he sits down in his office chair, he is just a few clicks away from a Zoom call with his co-host. All Dougherty sees on the other side of the Zoom call is an eggshell-white wall, a white door, a hockey poster, and Kanter. After a quick catch-up, Kanter hits record, and the podcast begins.
Better Call Saul Deep Dive is up! In the longest and most chaotic episode of TV Sessions yet, Gabe and Luke go in-depth on this underrated masterpiece for close to 3 hours! Stick around to the end for S6 predictions, and give @rheaseehorn her damn Emmy!!https://t.co/pU9LgZ1T1O— TV Sessions Podcast (@tv_sessions) December 28, 2020
Once Kanter posts the episodes, Doughtery promotes them on his social media. Once, Dougherty tweeted a promo of the episode that was a deep dive on Better Call Saul. He tagged Rhea Seehorn, the actress who plays Wexler. He knew that she was very active on Twitter with fans from when Season 5 aired.
First, Peter Gould, one of the creators of the show, liked the tweet. Later the next day, Seehorn ended up doing the same. The first thing Dougherty did when he found out was message Kanter using all caps: “RHEA LIKED THE TWEET!!”
“I knew Gabe would be even more excited and I couldn’t wait to break the news to him,” says Dougherty.
Meanwhile, it was about 10 p.m. when Kanter’s phone went off with the classic iPhone ding. He was overwhelmed with joy and immediately ran downstairs to inform his mother and his two brothers.
Kanter was hopeful that the creators would listen to the episode. However, he was at least happy to show them that there are two fans who love their show so much that they can discuss it in detail for about three hours.
“I love TV so much, and this was the first time that I was able to show my appreciation to one of the creators out there whose work I find special,” explains Kanter.
When Kanter worked at the 2019 Toronto film festival, he met Andreas Babiolakis, who worked as a front-of-house assistant. They hit it off by talking about different films premiering at the event. Recently, Babiolakis appeared as a guest on TV Sessions’ break down episode about the show The Leftovers. He is a cinephile and considers himself green when it comes to TV shows. Babiolakis also has two podcasts of his own and runs a film website called Film Fatale.
“Something that they specialize in is they don’t just discuss the show and its relevance,” says Babiolakis. “[TV Sessions is] spoiler-heavy… deep-diving gold. These are guys who know the series inside and out, whether it’s Better Call Saul, The Wire, The Sopranos, or The Leftovers.”
In the four months that TV Sessions has been running, it has gained a small following. They currently have 150 Instagram followers and 10 episodes. They have an estimated audience of about 54 listeners per episode.
“It’s great to have a friend to talk film and TV with, so even if the podcast stopped, we would definitely continue to talk to each other about this stuff because of how passionate we are about it and how much we enjoy hearing each other’s opinions,” says Kanter.