Vince Gilligan created something so incredibly good when he decided to be so bad. Breaking Bad changed the way we looked at a central character. With Gilligan’s mission to take Walter White from Mr. Chips to Scarface, he made us slowly watch and attach ourselves to a very bad person. With Bryan Cranston performance as Walter White is so compelling, and intense it made for very good television. Looking back at the last 10 to 15 years, Breaking Bad will rank as one of the greatest shows on television.
With a stellar cast, Breaking Bad carefully crafted a narrative to carry White’s decent in evil over five seasons. Starting with a business partnership with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) to support his family and cover his cancer treatment, all the way to working in an underground lab in a industrial Laundromat for a drug kingpin, Vince Gilligan introduced a bevy of memorable characters, including Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and most notably Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). When the series ended, fans were hungry for more Breaking Bad, AMC green lit Better Call Saul, the spinoff featuring Odenkirk and Banks.
The pilot episode is so incredibly well written, it is almost amazing that HBO, Fox, Showtime and TNT turned it down. Perhaps it was the whole “meth” thing, we cannot be certain. Vince Gilligan has a way with words, painting a painfully mundane world of the Whites living in the Inland Empire. For the final production, the show relocated the setting to New Mexico, which benefitted the show, since California has been done before. Breaking Bad is like if the show Weeds went through a meat-grinder and then injected with meth. Remarkably, Gilligan was not aware of the similarities or the existence of Weeds (starring Mary-Louise Parker and created by Jenji Kohan) and he noted that if he had, he might not have written the pilot. Lucky for us, he created Breaking Bad.
Popular culture would be at a loss without Breaking Bad with Heisenberg t-shirts not available, people not quoting Jesse Pinkman’s “Bitch,” or the remixes that involve the chilling “Say my name….” and “you’re goddamn right.”
Fans of the show know how good it is, and those that have not started really are missing out. Some people are even so tired of hearing “What do you mean you haven’t seen Breaking Bad?!” they are refusing to start (which is silly it’s available on Netflix.) There is no reason to avoid seeing this masterpiece. So when people say “Say my name…” you’ll understand why. And when people ask you “Should I watch Breaking Bad?”
You can say “You’re goddamn right.”
Script vs. Screen Grades:
Jason: Script A+ / Screen A+
Alex: Script A+ / Screen A+
Pop Culture Notes:
Kevin Pollack’s Chat Show with guest Jay Ferguson
Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad Audition
Aaron Paul on Price is Right
Sneaky Pete – Amazon
X-Files and Breaking Bad Connections – HuffPost