Hello, my fellow readers!
Few shows have sparked a cultural shift in which many of their lines, moments, or characters have gone into the culture’s lexicon. Few shows last an entire run, and I mean serialized shows. You can switch to any channel or look on Netflix for any sterilized show and see they come and go quicker than a flash of lightning.
That’s what makes the few that do special. Shows that last and hold our imagination and has us think of them years later, even after the last episode, makes us laugh or cry. Shows like Lost, 24, Sopranos, and the one I am writing the blog about…
Breaking bad — Yes, the amazing show about a mild manner chemistry teacher who makes meth. We have come upon the fifteen-year anniversary of Breaking Bad, and I thought a retrospective was in order.
Breaking Bad: A Season Of Change
Premiering January 20th, 2008, on AMC, the show was a modest success for the channel, but successful enough with good reviews that the show was able to continue beyond its first season, which was also hampered by the coming writers’ strike. Breaking Bad’s nine-episode order was shorted to seven. Vince Gilligan (The show’s creator) had planned to kill off Jesse or Hank as a “ballsy” moment to end the season. This death was eliminated with the limited episode count, which Gilligan found to be a net positive given the strength of acting that both Paul and Norris brought to these roles.
Gould, a writer, and producer, stated that the writer’s strike “saved the show” as if they had produced the two additional episodes in the first season, they would have gone down a different creative path that he believes would have led to the show’s cancellation by its third season.
Around 2010, AMC expressed to Sony Pictures Television and Gilligan that they felt the third season would be the last for Breaking Bad. Sony started to shop the show around, having gained interest from the FX network for two more seasons, upon which AMC changed its mind and allowed the show to continue. At the same time, Netflix started shopping for content to add to its service and arranged a deal with Sony for Breaking Bad. Knowing that AMC had placed Breaking Bad on a potential cancellation route, Sony pushed to add the show to the service in time for the fourth season. Breaking Bad‘s viewership grew greatly as viewers binged it on Netflix, helping its popularity and gain a fifth season.
Chemistry Is The Study Of Change
In an interview, creator Vince Gilligan said the larger lesson of the series is that “actions have consequences.” He elaborated on the show’s philosophy:
“If religion is a reaction of man, and nothing more, it seems to me that it represents a human desire for wrongdoers to be punished. I hate the idea of Ldi Amin living in Saudi Arabia for the last 25 years of his life. That galls me to no end. I feel some sort of need for Biblical atonement, or justice, or something. I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen. My girlfriend says this great thing that’s become my philosophy as well. ‘I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell.”
The show explores most of the main characters’ connections to their families in great detail. Walt (our hero) justifies cooking meth and becoming a criminal by providing his family with money for after he dies from cancer. Walt finally admits to Skyler that the main motivation for his endeavors in the meth business was his own interest, in spite of secretly securing the $9.72 million he had managed to salvage for her and the children.
The series depicts criminality as neither black nor white. It shows several characters, Walt, Jessie, and even their lawyer, Saul Goodman, all doing what they do for a specific reason. Even the big villains of the series are very human, except maybe Tuco, who I always found criminally insane.
Gus Fring is one of the great villains of the series, and if you read my villain post, you know he is not only smart but capable and has an excellent backstory for why he does all he does. Gus has a turbulent past with the Salamanca family, who killed his best friend.
The only character who constantly struggles with the fact of his evil deeds is Jessie Pinkman. Throughout the Series, he tries to find the light in several people and things. He tries for the light in repurchasing his grandmother’s house from his parents, who are tired of his ways. He tries buy saving a little boy from his junkie parents. He tries and pushes all through the Series and only makes his way closer and closer to bathing in the dark shadow of Walter White, who by the series end has turned away from the light and his original purpose. By the Series’ end, both our protagonist find their way out of the dark. Walter by accomplishing his goal and Jessie by finding Freedom.
Breaking Bad: Say My Name.
Breaking Bad: Say My Name!
No other series has shown a character change so tremendously and in such an entertaining way as we’ve seen Walter White change. From the down-on-his-luck teacher who found out he had cancer to the empire running Hiesnburg.
From the point of view of doing everything he could to raise money for his family. From flashbacks that show he was screwed out of a million-dollar business by his ex-girlfriend and best friend to becoming the alter ego that would proclaim in the desert after killing Gus Fring —
“Say My Name”
“Your Goddamn right!”
Other famous lines stuck to our brains, like “I am the danger!” or Jessie’s famous catchphrase, which I will not repeat here.
Over the past fifteen years, like lost, it has been discussed and examined. Every time a similar show comes out, they praise it as the next Breaking Bad. It is endlessly copied but never perfected in the way Breaking Bad was.
Breaking Bad: Pizza On The Roof!
In 2015, series creator Vince Gilligan publicly requested fans of the series to stop reenacting a scene from the Breaking Bad episode “Caballo Sin Nombre” in which Walter angrily throws a pizza onto his own roof after Skyler refuses to let him inside; this came after complaints from the home’s real-life owner.
Television fans are as loyal as movie fans. It is a series that will be spoken about for years to come. One that will be remembered for its amazing writing and characters who all find themselves in difficult situations. And the Villains, who are also the heroes in a story that never feels fake or out of place in the context of its world.
From its five seasons of twists and turns and character flaws, Walter White and crew have cemented themselves into one of the greatest television shows and characters on TV.
And a last little piece of praise I wanted to say is that the cinematography in the series gets better and better with each episode and its something they kept up with the sequel series they made Titled: Better Call Saul.
In closing, Breaking Bad was and is one of the greatest shows of all time. It was a masterpiece in storytelling and character. It put each character in situations that, by the end of the episode, it seemed they wouldn’t be able to find a way out of and yet the writers, in their wisdom, did it in a way that wasn’t cheap. It worked. The series worked from beginning to end, and I will sing the series’ praises to anyone who will listen.