After ‘Breaking Bad’


Breaking BadThe English-speaking world clearly falls into two groups; those who finished ‘Breaking Bad’ and those who didn’t get beyond the first episode. It takes a while to catch up with ended shows. I’ve yet to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Game of Thrones’. I never saw a frame of ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘The Wire’, but they’re out there like so many great books, and maybe I’ll get to them one day.

‘Breaking Bad’ I finished, and I can see the addiction; a six-season series constructed like a novel, with a beginning, middle and end (the opposite of say, ‘Lost’, which felt as if ideas had been thrown out from the back of a moving train), with characters who are real and complex, and at its root the inevitability of fate (Walt’s illness) and a quiet indictment of the systems under which we live.

It worked because it was created not by media suits desperate for a hit but by a lone writer, Vince Gilligan, who stepped up from a stint on the derivative ‘The X Files’. Characters remained true to themselves, situations unfolded in a logical, carefully-paced manner, and the final season took on the tragic sweep of an epic.

And there were hidden tricks; the WTF?-prologues that turned out to be from later shows, the use of the colour yellow, the pink teddy bear, the animals that signified events, the hidden references to the dead Gale, the breakfast cereal, the hidden logos and of course, Walt’s pants from Season One which turn up at the end.

Mostly, though, it was the show’s integrity that made the series so unmissable, in spite of the fact that New Mexico looks like a place I’d go a long way to avoid visiting (their restaurants were especially awful), despite me losing count of the number of times Walt bared his lower teeth and whispered, ‘Jessie, we have to talk,’ despite the fact that you could play a drinking game by taking a swig every time somebody smashed a phone, despite wondering what else could possibly happen to Jessie and still thinking that Skyler got a raw deal, and what kind of name is that anyway?

Best of all was the idea that people have unexpected but entirely real characteristics to reveal when they’re faced with impossible decisions. Finally, there was the innovation of having an ending that was horribly and painfully unhappy to nearly everyone concerned, except the one soul whose existence you didn’t think would be redeemed. Just like life, then.

Job done – onto ‘Better Call Saul’, and then could someone give Anna Gunn’s Skyler her own series?


One comment on “After ‘Breaking Bad’”

  1. Michelle dempsey says:

    Never mind all that although Better Call Saul is excellent, watch Justified you can catch early seasons on Netflx, it’s just finished in the US with the final on last night, it’s bloody brilliant, one of the best shows on ever although season 5 was not as good as the first three, its based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.

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