Isabella Becarra, Contributing Writer
Crystal meth, a high-school chemistry teacher, a burnout and a ramshackle R.V. all combine to form “Breaking Bad,” one of the most popular shows on television. With over 6 million viewers of its last episode, (according to tvbythenumbers.com) the show is more popular than ever. But why are there so many viewers for a TV show that seems to be so depressing and violent?
“Breaking Bad” breaks down new walls by introducing a sympathetic main character Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) who slowly allows the love he has for his family to destroy him as he becomes a diabolical, greedy and cruel human being. Evidently, it is difficult to hold complete animosity towards a man who is near death as more and more viewers find themselves rooting for Walt as he continues to transform into an overly confident and malevolent force in the meth-industry, even as his family life still suffers.
The show is considered by some to be one of the greatest TV dramas of all time due to its commitment to tackling cringe-worthy topics in a compelling way. Vince Gilligan, the writer, director and producer of “Breaking Bad,” chose to take risks with the show, and they have certainly paid off. While at its most basic level the subject matter is controversial, on a deeper level the show also raises many important themes.
Gilligan’s decision to construct a main character that is a highly educated chemist creates a controversial statement about the nature of intelligence. Contrasted with his brilliance, Walter frequently makes stupid decisions. Walt is seen to let power get the best of him; does this suggest that traditional education provides false confidence? To muddle the waters even more, the uneducated characters on the show, such as Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and his burnout friends, seem to have street smarts but better moral compasses. Gilligan stresses intelligence in the minds of intuitively curious people, who need their wits to survive, over more traditional academic knowledge. “Breaking Bad” takes a unique stance on what actually makes a man “wise.”
Gilligan can be seen as not only a risk-taker, but as an artist. It is rare in today’s society that we see television shows, or even movies, that are created for more than just the viewers, but for the fulfillment of the writer and creator as well. Vince Gilligan did not simply carry out an incredible story-line, but he did so with such attention to detail and the motivation to dig far deeper than the surface level of each character.
Overall, “Breaking Bad” is a thought-provoking and thrilling drama, as well as a visually-stimulating creation and gift to modern television. And it’s now on Netflix, too!
After every episode, the series will leave you wanting more as each one usually comes with a serious plot twist towards the end. Once you start watching, you’ll never stop. I suggest starting from the beginning of the series, but if you’re too eager to start watching, the next episode airs Sunday on AMC at 9:00. Enjoy!