My Addiction: Breaking Bad


For those of you not keeping up with Breaking Bad (and honestly, shame on you) don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers here.  Truthfully, I doubt there is anything I hate more than spoilers.  And even more truthfully, I doubt there is anything I love more than Breaking Bad.  And while I’ve spent time on this site espousing the joys of Community, Arrested Development, and even the infallible Seinfeld, we mustn’t forget that the epitome of good television lies within the realm of drama.  Just like two years ago when I was addicted to Lost, I am currently a junkie for everyone’s favorite chemistry teacher and satan’s barber (because of the devil’s dandruff…anybody?) Walter White.  I kept up with the show religiously for the first three seasons but went off in other directions for the past year or so, only to realize an entire fourth season had passed me by, without me even noticing.  Well, my cousin and I decidedly rectified that situation when we went on a bender, finding the show once again as addicting as Jessie and Mr. White’s product proves to be.  And by God, I have no regrets.

And I watch this show and I can’t help but think that it is probably the best show on television, and better than most movies.  The writing is possibly the best I’ve seen, and mixed with the incredible directing, acting, and the untouchable cinematography, I can’t help but think we’ve been able to witness something of a cultural milestone unravel before our eyes.  We often hear arguments from people (of which I tend to agree) that if studios want to curb piracy and increase revenue, they not only have to improve their distribution methods, but also improve the quality of the productions they release.  Because of the quality of Breaking Bad, I have absolutely no qualms with paying for every episode that is released.  It is worth every penny, and I can’t turn my head away for even a moment.  I’ve currently got three more episodes of the fourth season left, which I’ll be watching tonight, and then we wait for the fifth, and last, season to begin in June.

Which is a long time to wait for more of that Heisenberg Blue

But I don’t know if I’ll watch the show as it airs on television.  See, certain TV shows, I’m convinced, are made not for moderate weekly consumption.  Some shows are made to be feasted upon in binges, episode after episode consumed so that the multiple story arches can be analyzed, dissected, and fully understood within the overarching series itself.  And while for many shows I can watch casually, often working on other things simultaneously or while engaged in conversation, Breaking Bad requires a dedication from its audience.  A show like this is packed with subtle detail, filled with foreshadowing and decorated in a way that sets a theme and an underlying mood.  One cannot miss episodes, nor can one afford to skip dialogue they otherwise would.  No, because Breaking Bad is a show clearly written with an ending in mind.  It is unmistakable that as each episode progresses, with each decision leading to (usually dire) consequences, we are marching towards an ending.  It creates within the viewer a feeling of dread, for we cannot be optimistic about the ending.  This is somewhat assuaged by the fact that our protagonist, Walter White, has become increasingly less sympathetic, but it remains true that we remember the old innocent high school teacher, mild-mannered and awkward as he was, and feel the regret he must feel building inside of him at the life that he’s lost.  We become empathetic to him in a way, knowing that we’ve all made decisions we cannot take back.  But he’s gone too far, and we’re left wondering if he even deserves our empathy anymore.

Time to cook

See, this show has done what is arguably the most difficult feat imaginable in writing.  It has perfected the art of making good things bad, and bad things good.  It has blurred the lines between right and wrong to the point that we don’t know what Walt should do.  We don’t know what he even could do that could make things right.  News that would normally sound good, like positive cancer prognoses, end up being bad.  Deaths can sometimes end up seeming good.  A show like this, that so perfectly grays our sense of morality, has forced us to see that the world is never black and white, and that the complexities of situations can end up creating insurmountable challenges to people and those closest to them.  Rules can never be applied universally and absolutely, because all too often so many intricacies hang in the balance that we’re forced to see the folly in oversimplifying our views of morality in the world.  The sheer depth of Breaking Bad is why I love this show so much.  And my love for this show, if nothing else, is the reason for this article.  And now I must sit back, crack a beer, and see what awaits our favorite chemist.

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4 Comments to “My Addiction: Breaking Bad”

  1. Wow. By far the best article you have ever written. The last paragraph on how the show handles morality gave me tingles.

  2. Great article. Breaking bad is an awesome show and one of my favorites.

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