Originally posted on 28 March 2013. Migrated from previous blog.
Breaking BadÂ – do you watch it? Loads of us appear to be. And for a while I really wasn’t sure why I was enjoying it. To an extent, I’m still not sure why. But I am definitely enjoying it.
Now, I was a bigÂ LOSTÂ fan, and despite trying out other shows like:
24Â |Â HeroesÂ |Â The WireÂ |Â Flash ForwardÂ |Â The 4400Â |Â …and more
… I was struggling to find the same long form US drama fix that I got fromÂ LOST. In fact I ended up watching it all over again with my son when he came to the age of appreciating a bit more grown up conversation and drama. But I lovedÂ LOSTÂ dearly…DEARLY. The conclusion of the series genuinely moved me and came at a point when closure was timely for me for some ruddy reason or other. But I wanted to feed my hunger for a regular TV show relationship and quick. I even found myself going back to my first US long form show lovesÂ Twin PeaksÂ andÂ Northern Exposure.
[I feel I should note at this point that I really enjoyÂ DexterÂ and wished so much thatÂ CarnivaleÂ andÂ The Secret RoomÂ could have been commissioned another season or two – but this post is aboutÂ Br Ba]
So…Breaking Bad? Yeah I’d heard it was the shit. Premise sounded simple and comedic:
Chemistry teacher is diagnosed with terminal cancer and turns to cooking methamphetamine to provide for his family after he’s gone
Sounded a bit like that other show people were harking on aboutÂ Weeds. So I gave it a whirl. First episode was all right, quite funny, not convinced how it could have longevity of storyline after the set-up though. And this ‘science’ spin – was it really going to be a sneaky-pete way of teaching us thatÂ science is coolÂ in each episode? Reminiscent of an 80s kids cartoon or something? But for some reason I had to watch another, and another, and another. Did I like the main characters? Not really. As the mother of a teenage boy I wanted slapÂ Jessie, buy him some clothes thatÂ fit him properlyÂ and sit him down with aÂ prospectus;Â WaltÂ was consistently making shittier and shittier decisions, turning from what seemed to be a good husband and father into a lying idiot flailing around in a dangerous world he couldn’t grasp and putting his loved ones in very real danger; andÂ Skyler? Sheesh – lovely girl, but what a moany bitch! And what the hell kind of home decoration is that? Who in their right mind has aÂ giant wooden fork and spoonÂ on the kitchen wall who is under 60? #geniussetdesignbytheway
Now I’m going to digress for a moment here. Part of me suspects that one of the best things about these extremely addictive shows that are destined to become a must-have and ratherÂ expensive boxsetÂ on yourÂ Billy Bookcase, is that it’s a thoroughly epic experience to share with someone close to you. WatchingÂ LOSTÂ with my son the second time was immeasurably more enjoyable than watching it on my own previously – picture it: single mum, bottle of wine, fake-tanning before my next doomed date with some idiot man, pausing the show to have a fag out the window where I would witter to my neurotic, desperate, overworked and underpaid self (important to add that I would be periodically drooling overÂ SayidÂ andÂ Sawyer). (Especially when they were muddy and sweaty.) (Or both.) (Or coming out of the sea.) (Or anything.) Not good times really (well some bits). But, watching it again snuggled up with my boy and sharing the ridiculous ups and downs of the ensemble of characters and bizarre events that unfolded around them – was a much richer shared journey, full of much wrangling discussion over what the bloody hell might it all mean.
Sharing the first tentative steps into a new show (Breaking Bad) with my partner, was different in the sense that there was much less talk after each episode – no words at all in fact, more ‘hmmmmmm’-ing and the occasional scratching of chin. We were chewing. Where was this going? Was it funny? Some bits seemedÂ VERY funny. But some, really,Â REALLY not. But as the episodes have racked up, the characters have not only grown, but have evolved massively, almost unrecognisably; and their dynamic with each other has evolved too, almost to far-fetched extents. But that doesn’t matter a jot because I’mÂ hooked on them like the meth they irresponsibly peddle, I’m following their individual stories each, and even though I’m not really empathising all that much – I’m experiencing their evolution which is intoxicating.
Additional to this (and delightfully unexpectedly because I’m busy chewing over how and if so why I’m liking it)Â STUNNING photography is thrown at you. A clearly staggering chemistry between the respective cinematographers and directors ofÂ Breaking BadÂ work in wondrous verve with each other to capture shots that add weight to the already rich telling of a scene. Composition and subject of attention, colouring and light make for gobsmacking effects on your consumption of narrative.
Now we get to the fun bits. TheÂ clever marketing sodsÂ involved in the show have jumped on opportunities to have as much fun with the branding and characters in the show.Â Walt‘s son,Â Walter Junior, sets up a low rent website to try and raise funds for his sick father’s cancer treatment -Â “Save Walter White”. It might seem obvious now, but heck yes! They bunged up the real site:Â http://www.savewalterwhite.comÂ – and where do the donations go?Â The National Cancer Coalition. Great stuff. But that’s not all. One of the most-loved secondary characters isÂ Saul Goodman, the typically dodgy criminal defence lawyer. His garish cheap taste in hairstyle, suits, office decor, and business branding only matched by his cheap-ass wise-cracks. His business catchphrase isÂ “Better Call Saul!”Â – and heck yes again – they bunged his site up too:Â http://www.bettercallsaul.comÂ – complete with hilarious consultation videos likeÂ Sue ’em Now,Â Tiger Trouble, andÂ Saul’s Mailbag; and a ‘live webcam’ to Saul’s office.
Breaking Bad creative team, production team and performing cast? – well done, REALLY WELL DONE on an immensely well produced piece of television drama. Genius telly – REALLY enjoying it.
– Belinda Love