This glorious series comes to us from AMCs infinite wisdom. It follows Walter White who is a chemistry teacher in his local school, a husband and father. His wife finds that shes expecting again, and he finds out that hes got terminal lung cancer – hes got a few years to live – at best. He’s on a mediocre salary although he has a near genius IQ. His brother in law Hank is DEA & he accepts his offer to go on a ride-along, he learns how incredibly lucrative Crystal Meth is . And soon recruits one of his old students to start cooking. Wanting to provide for his family after he’s gone he see’s a way of making some bank . Quickly. First airing in 2008, Breaking Bad became a Global success, having wrapped up in 2013 with 5 seasons. It’s ranking on IMDB is an unwavering 9.5 with the correlating 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, It’s earned this rating. Contrarily i will admit that season 3 got a bit slow-paced and lack-lustre for me but then it picked right back up from Season 4 and on.
Rating : 9/10
This show embodies the very badass nature this category is all about – its intelligent and creative – destructive and explosive and there’s some serious chuckles littered throughout. What i liked about this show is that its constructed using a well thought-out narrative. It, along with many other modern series is a continuation of the construct of the anti-hero that was brought about by the revolutionary series “The Sopranos” i don’t mean revolutionary in a genre manner of speaking, it’s literal (if your interested follow up with The Sopranos.) Walter White, who’s alliteration alone gets us, is the embodiment of the tragic figure pushed into an unorthodox position with a desperate need to make bank, fast. Because of his unique scenario we as an audience nearly immediately accept that what he’s doing is illegal but its moral issues are eradicated by the fact that he’s dying and therefore we as an audience become slowly transitioning viewers who continue to accept deplorable behavior. Between creator and viewer, an agreement is formed.
Having studied Literature, Film & TV studies and Philosophy, there are quite a few things that stand out in the show that upon first glance may not become apparent. This is in a way a ‘Bildungsroman’ : a ‘Coming-of-age’ story, Walters new life begins and transformations of his mind and body are regular and incredibly frequent. The structure of the show once it was finalized and completed can read a little like Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”. There are multiple references to philosophers and psychoanalysts or, if you’d rather, psychoanalytic and philosophical trains of thought. The intellect of the show is apparent but still a little deceptive as there’s a few more layer to it than is initially seen.
The two main protagonists of this show are Walter White, (Bryan Cranston, or as most know him “Hal” from Malcolm in the Middle) and Jessie Pinkman (Aaron Paul). The latter being the less educated and literate of the two, the majority of the Comedic Relief comes through him. Although his character doesn’t have a highly intellectual background, his street smarts and general knowledge know-how’s are equally integral to the operation that the two men create. It forms a balance of opposites who are drawn together by unusual circumstances and the character development for both are monumental.
I never knew much about Crystal Meth, or its production / creative processes but the way in which drugs are explored in this show is insightful, and i enjoyed that they showed literally every possible perspective. From the moral and (up-until-now) upstanding citizen who’s diagnosis propels the plot, to the street dealers, the wives, children and families that are impacted, addicts of all age, class, gender and race.
Something i found really interesting is that after the first season came out, drug dealers on the streets started adding blue food dye to their product (Crystal Meth) and branded it as ‘Heisenberg’s product’. The influence that a television series had on the streets of dealers was impressive. Then a range of product followed like Bath salts (third picture below) and candy (last picture).
Interestingly the shows span of topics or situations that are explored is surprisingly varied, it shows the trials of parenting, both infants and sulky adolescents, and with an added layer, the White’s son suffers from Cerebral Palsy which creates a whole new avenue of examination and its own trials and tribulations. We’ve got some standard parenting lines following this thread :
There’s a few twists and turns in this series, and similarly to Tommy Shelby of ‘The Peaky Blinders’, it doesn’t do well to underestimate Mr. White, or ‘Heisenberg’ (his alias).
Fair warning, there is a significant amount of violence in this show, its well-crafted though, structured and directed to perfection. With an analysis of violence, poverty, depression, addiction, cancer/ other terminal illnesses, trauma and disability. There’s no end to the variety of narratives.
A significant amount of recreational drug use, encapsulating the high’s and lows (figuratively and literally speaking).
There’s a variance of guest stars / cameos in the series, some recurring characters that really hold up their own in the show, Kristin Rytter being one; but there’s many more faces you’ll recognise on screen.
We witness the occasional goofing off session. Although this is far from a comedy series, there is some intermittent chuckles that escape you before you’ve half had time too register what caught your humour’s attention to begin with. Jessie (Aaron Paul’s character) is at the forefront of a lot of the comedic relief as his youthful exuberance and street smarts provide some highly entertaining antics.
He simultaneously portrays Walter’s second metaphorical son and the tougher than nails dealer, the former wins out a lot as he embodies many of the teenage attributes that juvenile’s would, eye-rolls included.
The direction and pacing of the series is cleverly and tactfully done. There isn’t an overload of any one event or theme in the individual seasons, rather a slow progression of climactic moments that coalesce to form one damn formidable construction. This is a series that nearly all ages can watch, my own parents who are prehistoric dinosaurs when it comes to technology/ Netflix/ streaming or tormenting eventually sat down to watch it. Lots of action, violence, drama, shocks and surprisingly succinct philosophical notions; and lastly of course, drug wars. So dive in if your in the mood for an immersive series thats got some badass MF’s. You really see a different side to Malcolm in the Middle’s sweet ol dad in this series. Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White has immortalized him in this prestigious role.
On a side note, if you even need another reason to watch it, you’ve got the ridiculously adorable Aaron Paul.