Today there are too many shows on television for it to be possible to like, or even watch, them all. I watch a lot of TV in my spare time, but as I’ve been watching throughout the past few years and gotten to learn more about the production behind the scenes, I have found myself giving up on a lot of the shows I used to call my favourites. It is important to note that interests change with age, but it is a strange feeling to look back on shows I used to love and see what they have become, or in some cases, were all the time without me noticing. There are many reasons why I choose to give up on shows, but lately my biggest complaints have been lack of continuity, rehashing of old storylines and unoriginality, stunt casting only to boost ratings and bad acting. Prime examples of shows that are guilty of this are Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill (all of which I have watched all or most of).
With that in mind, I find it refreshing to have shows such as Breaking Bad on television. I recently caught up on season 4 after starting to watch it a little while ago, and I have yet to have any complaints. In a time when television is starting to get almost as much recognition as movies, it is good to know that shows like this still exist. In my opinion, Breaking Bad is superior to a lot of what is out there in several ways.
First of all, it’s not like anything else I have seen on television. It tells a very real to life story about a straight-edged, out-of-luck man who, when he finds out he has terminal cancer, turns to manufacturing crystal meth and very quickly gets in a little too deep in the drug industry. The writing is fresh, and even in its fourth season the writers manage to create worthwhile and interesting storylines that keep you on the edge of your seat and on the verge of tears. Personally, I never know what is going to happen next, and I enjoy the twists and turns even though I am close to having a nervous breakdown when an episode gets too intense.
Speaking of the writers, I truly appreciate the continuity in the show. So many shows I watch don’t seem to care the least bit about being consistent with the story they are telling, so the care with which the creator Vince Gilligan and the rest of the writing room treat the storylines and the characters is a joy. There are throwbacks to things that happened seasons before, and if even the most minor of plot points goes unmentioned, you know it will be brought up at a later point in the series. Likewise, the writing stays incredibly true to the characters while still allowing them to grow and develop. While the Walter from the pilot episode is a far cry from the Walter in season 4, his character has always been consistent, only changing in ways you would expect anyone in his situation to. The same can be said for every other character in the show.
Last thing I have made a note of in the writing of this show is that just about every line spoken carries more than one meaning. Even the jokes have their base in the underlying themes of the season or series as a whole.
Just like the writing, the production is so well thought out. Everything from the camera angles to the choice of colours of clothes, lighting etc. carries some symbolic meaning, and it gives every scene another level of storytelling. While watching any episode you can get a deeper understanding of what they are trying to tell you just by looking a little closer at everything you can see.
Last thing I want to mention is the acting. I truly appreciate great acting, and in combination with such great writing the result is captivating episodes week after week. Both Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have won Emmys for their portrayals of Walter and Jesse, and deservedly so. In fact, the whole cast as an ensemble are incredibly talented, and all of them bring something to the show that it would be a shame to lose. Lately I’ve been very impressed by Giancarlo Esposito’s portrayal of Gustavo Fring. He brings so many layers to what seemed at first to be a one-dimensional character.
All in all, the acting is top notch, and the fact that the show can have five minute or longer scenes with almost no dialogue without losing the audience’s attention shows how much the writers trust the actors’ talent. Also, while a lot of shows use a musical score to evoke emotion in pivotal moments of an episode, the writers along with the actors manage to do the same with only their words and acting. I love movie scores a lot, but appreciate being able to be genuinely moved without the music enhancing the mood of the scene.
To wrap this up I have to add that, in all fairness, there are other shows that have managed to do what this one has done, but I chose to focus on Breaking Bad because it is my personal favourite show. The combination of great writing, directing, editing, acting and everything else that goes into making this show has resulted in an amazing story that I enjoy watching even as it goes into the end of its fourth season. It is sad to think that there will be only one more season, but I’m glad they have an end date to work towards when they finish up the show. I look forward to seeing it wrap up with stories just as good as they have been from the beginning, if not better, but I will surely miss it a lot when it is gone.
** I submitted and had this article featured on in the Breaking Bad section of Hypable.com. I highly recommend visiting their site for information on everything in the entertainment business, or to submit your own articles for consideration.