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Monday, February 16, 2015

1 of 1001 Television Shows: Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

Don't read if you're not into spoilers! Later this year 1001 Television shows will be released, and considering their front cover features Breaking Bad I assume it's safe to say it's featured, and I want to write this while it's fresh on the mind, plus Better Call Saul begun, and I'm loving it. I want to go back and relive Breaking Bad a bit.

Breaking Bad might be one of the most famous shows from the past decade. It does certainly break the mold of television. In only five seasons they showed us the drastic change of an everyday guy who getting by as a teacher to a guy who desperately wanted to make sure his family was well off if he was to die from his cancer. It's a startling portrayal of the lengths power, love, and notoriety might drive one to.

Summary: Walter White is an everyday guy. He's married with with a family he cares for and works as a science teacher and at a car wash for extra money. After he is diagnosed with lung cancer his life is sent into a tail spin, not only does he need to find a way to afford treatment without help, but he also wants to make sure his family is well cared for if something was to happen to him.


I have a lot of thoughts on this show, and it's hard to imagine if I'll be able to sum them up. I thought the characters were magnificently written. Actually, even the story as well. Everything was well done, and I loved that this show had a singular direction to take it instead of spinning out whatever for that many seasons. It seems if anyone has a complaint about the show it's about disliking the female characters. Most people can find something to like about many of the male characters, Jesse Walt, Hank, and even Saul. Even though for me I really thought Walt went to some of the darkest places. His character is a personality that has the most trouble with emotional feelings. All his motivations are guided by logic, even regarding his family. While I understand that Skylar comes off very unlikable, I always sort of understood her side as well. She is with a guy who struggles to connect. It's not bad, but it makes the show certainly real.


This leads to the next big points. For me there was no one likable character in this show, but nor were they unlikable either. I felt I could feel everyone was dealing with these scenarios how real people might deal with them. It's not about creating a hero in this show, but showing complex situations that call for a level of bad, and how those characters might justify the bad they are doing. The unraveling of Skylar is a lot slower than Walts. It begins with little vices, and ends with her taking part in what she knows is a drug business.

There are many other characters in this show though, and they are affected by what mostly Walt all gets them into. Personally, I hated how Skylar takes the hate of the viewer of the show, but I believe the writers and even the actress of Skylar knows that was her role. The show mirrors her taking the dislike through how her son perceives her, and even the things that Walt says to her. At one point she even notes to him everyone will think her the bad guy in comparison to him even though he is the one who got them into dealing drugs. It's an interesting and real dynamic for many women and the perception we hold.


Lets not forget Jesse though. The one whose life was really further screwed up by the involvement with Walt. While I think the ultimate conclusion that Walt did care for Jesse is true, I think it's more so because he felt responsible for him. He ends up being taken hostage for a long time, treated brutality, losing a couple of love interests in the drug disputes, and feeling genuinely bad. Unlike any other character in the show, Jesse was the only one who couldn't justify what he was doing and he acknowledged he was bad. The issues around Walt and Jesse's relationship are the most painful to watch. The show doesn't try to hide over the painful results it has even in the moment of risking making you completely hate the lead character, Walt.

The host of other characters like Hank and Maria contribute their own as well. Hank is a likable DEA who has a drug tycoon right under his nose, and Maria is sadly most of the time nagging, but toward the end of the series she turns the tides a bit, in the rejection and distrust she felt learning of her sister's secrets.

Breaking Bad is a hard show to connect with, but not because it is lacking in compelling story or characters, but mostly because you don't want to connect to these types of people. It's what makes the show so good though, is because they are people dealt a bad draw, and go through levels of bad to break it.

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