I am not in danger. I am the danger.Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Airs: AMC (Netflix) | Air Dates: 2008-2013 | Number of Seasons: 5
Breaking Bad follows a high school chemistry teacher that is recently diagnosed with cancer. After his diagnosis, Walter White realizes that he has left no legacy for his wife and son and searches for a way to provide for them once he dies. After running into an ex-student, White realizes that there’s ample amounts of money in the meth game. As Walter White navigates the drug game, he realizes that the only way to succeed is to be the best. But, the best comes with the loss of the mild man he once was and might even result in the loss of those he wanted to protect most.
I had a really distinct vision for the ending of this show. The ending wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined but the general idea was there (really it was only the location that was different). I was very hesitant to watch this show mostly because of the hype that has surrounded the ending for years. I tend not to believe the hype especially when it revolves a show with such a cult following. But, Breaking Bad did not disappoint and much of that had to do with Bryan Cranston and the very distinct plot structure of the show. From the start, this show walks a fine line between comedy and drama. While the genre is characterized as a crime show, I almost don’t agree. I think that this show is better off characterized as a dramedy. It’s really special in the sense that this show has taken a serious concept and made it humorous without overdoing it. This is what makes the show a worthwhile watch.
Moving on to the characterization within the show, I feel as though this is Bryan Cranston’s show. There’s not another actor who I believe could play Walter White with the same graying morals. Cranston’s initial portrayal is incredible because from the first episode the viewer is aware that the mild-mannered version of Walter White is really a persona. He’s capable of committing crimes within the first few episodes and I think that White character perpetuates a theme of desperation. He is initially shown to be extremely desperate to have money but eventually the show amplifies his desperation to greed. Anna Gunn who plays Skyler was one of the few female characters on television that I thought stood her ground. There’s this clear dilemma of whether or not she wants to support Walter and it’s shown in everything that she does. Gunn does a great job of not making the audience hate her because ultimately it’s her husband who is the anti-hero. Hank Schrader was probably my least favorite character. The racist cop just feels so overplayed and I didn’t really like many of his plotlines. Lastly, Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman is irreplaceable. He plays the addicted dealer with such conviction that I’ll be surprised if he’s not type-cast for the rest of his career. His character proved able to stand up to White but also clearly under his thumb and that balance is hard to find in most characters but Paul portrayed it well.
I see the plot structure of this show to be like a pyramid. The first season has the most content and storylines to introduce the audience to the characters and dictate where the show is going. From there, the show becomes more compactly written and less new information about the characters is presented. The characters then just feel like old friends who are growing up. I love this structure because the audience starts with Walter White as a beginning and ends with him at the top. From the start it feels like the only place the show can go is up and that’s what makes this show good.
I do find this show a little problematic in the sense that it glorifies the drug game. I do acknowledge that most shows glamorize careers and crimes but the one thing this show would have benefited from is a little more reality. Yes, people die. Yes, Walter White struggles. But the reason that he turns to the drug game is completely valid and desperate. I think that exploring more of the desperation of the players would’ve made this show a little more compelling and a little less written for the shock value.
Overall, the best part of this show is that each minute is valuable. I don’t feel like a single minute was wasted or the characterization was done poorly. The writers may have taken the easy way out with the ending, but it makes sense given the progression of the story. I would recommend this show for anyone who likes crime dramas with a hint of humor.