Yes I understand. It is a bold statement to try and use the word Television and insightful in the same sentence. I think there are many cases in the last 10 years that may have helped alter the perception that watching television is exclusively a mind rotting exercise (I know it mostly is!)- Lost, Oz, The Wire and Deadwood being other examples.
Breaking Bad takes all of these and throws them to the wind. I am going to do my best to not spoil any major plot points because the goal of this post is to encourage people to engage this show and engage it from the beginning.
Breaking Bad is the story of high school chemistry teacher Walter White. He is a rather docile man with a wife, a handicapped son and a child on the way. Walter goes in for a physical and finds out he has terminal lung cancer. He learns from his DEA agent brother in law, Hank, how profitable Methamphetamine is as a business. While on a raid with Hank (he was on a ride a long) he sees a former student Jessie Pinkman leaving the scene of a meth lab from a second story window. He later tracks down Jessie to convince him to cook Meth with him so he can provide a nest egg for his family before he passes.
The creator of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan, has said this about the shows direction- (on Walter White) – “He’s going from being a protagonist to an antagonist. We want to make people question who they’re pulling for, and why.”
Bryan Cranston is one of the greatest actors working in TV today. His portrayal of Walter White is stunning. He plays the transformation (to this point) with brilliance. Of course, he won three straight Emmys for the role and probably would have won a fourth if not for the premiere date of season 4 falling outside the window for consideration.
Aaron Paul plays Jesse Pinkman. The relationship between Jesse and Walter is as important as any other in the series. I find myself aggravated with both during the course of the four seasons. I realized it wasn’t the type of aggravation shows like Survivor have made me feel, but it was a feeling brought about by stellar writing and exceptional acting.
On a side note it reminds me of why Saving Private Ryan is one of my favorite (sometimes #1) movies of all time. There is a scene at the end where Upham (played by Daniel Faraday from Lost 😉 ) has the opportunity to save a fellow soldier Mellish who is about to be stabbed by a Nazi. Upham sees that he will probably die if he intervenes and stays out of it. Mellish’s death scene plays out and I wanted to break my TV I was so mad at Upham and his cowardice.
To me, that is a sign of good art- it makes you feel. When it is really good it makes you feel strongly. Like Saving Private Ryan, Breaking Bad achieves this level with me.
The show is dark. The road looks even more grim. The title pretty much gives you and idea of where things are headed. The show does not pull any punches and it explores the dark side of people in a frank manner. I can’t think of another television show I would recommend to people who like thinking drama. The show delves into moral consequences of peoples actions constantly.
The first four seasons are available via Itunes. In HD they are more expensive but season one can be purchased for $11.99 in standard format and season 2,3,4 for $21.99 or $22.99 SD format. It is a good bet if you watch Season 1 the others will be high definition purchases.
Enjoy. I can’t wait to discuss the show with you.