With the Breaking Bad film El Camino debuting on Netflix, this is the perfect time to reminisce one of the best TV shows in the history of television. Created by Vince Gilligan in key roles, Breaking Bad premiered in 2008 and had a fantastic five-season run ending the show in 2013 with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the two leads.
Over the years, the show, its characters and even the dialogues have entered pop culture heaven. But what is it about Breaking Bad that makes it such a popular show?
Why is Breaking Bad still so popular?
Breaking Bad started off as the show about a high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Cranston) who turns to making meth after he is diagnosed with cancer. His aim is clear. He wants to make enough money so his family can survive in the event of his death. But even after that mission is accomplished, Walter can’t let go of his new God-like power. He teams up with one of his old students Jesse Pinkman (Paul) and together, they decide to become the biggest suppliers of Walter’s newly created blue meth.
The show’s timeline spans across one year and in this one year, we see Walter turn from an over qualified teacher who is dissatisfied with his many jobs to a megalomaniac who has the capacity to kill anyone. Jesse too transforms quite a lot during this duration. He starts off as a small-time drug dealer whose moral compass increasingly becomes sharper as he can see Walter turn into a beast.
Writing of the show
Breaking Bad’s success largely rests on its strong writing. From the first season itself, the show makes sure that it gives the audience a strong story with rich characters. What adds to the screenplay is the addition of truly jaw-dropping scenes that make almost every episode memorable.
The scene where the bathtub falls from across the ceiling appears in the initial few episodes. As we move on, Breaking Bad never fails to deliver exciting drama coupled with some dark comedy and some truly threatening encounters.
The second season stands out in terms of the execution of a larger arc. Throughout the season, we see snippets of a pink teddy bear but it’s not until the finale that we can piece together the story. In a way, it’s also reflective of the impact of Walter’s actions.
Best bits of Breaking Bad
There’s no dearth of excellent sequences and episodes in the Breaking Bad series. One of my personal favourites was Season 3’s episode Fly which was directed by Rian Johnson. In this entire episode, Water is bugged with the presence of a fly in their meth lab. He follows the buzz everywhere leaving Jesse completely bewildered. Just a few episodes before this one, Jesse’s girlfriend Jane (Krysten Ritter) had died from an overdose and Walter had a role in it. His guilt is haunting him but he can’t gather the courage to confess it to Jesse.
The list of great moments in this show is simply endless. Be it Walter throwing pizza on the roof, him and Skyler standing in front of a pile of cash, the iconic ‘Say my name’, Gus’ death, Hank discovering Walter’s truth, all of them were brilliantly written and performed.
While the two lead characters hold the show strongly, their supporting characters are just as well thought of. Take for example the character of Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt). Her presence is annoying but that’s not her entire purpose on the show. As the show moves ahead, we see layers of her character that contribute to the larger story. Same is the case with Skyler (Anna Gunn).
Hank (Dean Norris) is one of the very few positive characters on the show and even though Walter spends most of his time in his meth lab, he never gets the courage to confront Hank and this makes the audience respect the man. This also makes his death episode quite tragic.
Breaking Bad spin-offs
Breaking Bad introduced the character of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in the second season. With his conniving ways, he was the perfect lawyer for Walter and Jesse’s illegal activities. The character was appreciated quite a lot and this led to an eventual spin-off series Better Call Saul. The show premiered in 2015 and is still running strong.
The new Netflix movie takes off after the events of the TV show. Walter’s fate was sealed as the show ended but we were yet to see what was in store for Jesse as he navigated ahead and El Camino tells that tale.
Over the course of its five seasons (with the last season in two-parts), Breaking Bad won 16 Primetime Emmy Awards and had received 58 nominations.
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Breaking Bad is streaming on Netflix.