Back in 2009 AMC’s Breaking Bad was entirely brand new. A decade later, it is internationally known as the TV series which has set the bar for all box-sets and television series, giving competing TV series a run for their money. (It first aired on the FX channel in the UK, but is now freely available for all Netflix customers.) According to Wikipedia, the entire series (that’s six series in total) has won 110 awards and been nominated 262 times.
Back then friends who watched the show became addicted and tried to get me to watch the first episode, yet I never got past 15 minutes of it. Now it’s 2018 and I’m here watching it and I can’t stop. (In fact, I am sat here watching the final episode of the first series, at 3 am, when I should be asleep and ready for work in five hours.)
But I’m glad I have finally made myself watch it, even though it has taken me this long. Many of my friends kept raving about it and I understand, now, why people liked it. It’s the outlandish subject matter – cooking meth and illegally profiting from it – coupled with the transformative and ever-changing character of Walter White (performed spectacularly by Bryan Cranston, previously better known for his role in Malcolm In The Middle) as he struggles with stage three cancer, knowing he has only two years left to live.
At the beginning of the first series, Walter White is portrayed as a failed scientist: he is a college chemistry teacher holding it together, financially, with a part-time job at the local car wash despite having won a Nobel Prize earlier in his career. He is also a family man, with a wife and son, but after finding out he has lung cancer he goes from one extreme to another: from deciding to become a methamphetamine cook with his ex-student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in order to secure his family’s future, to meddling with drug suppliers and chemical compounds. He also finds himself fighting against his moral compass and killing a man.
It’s watching White arrive at one destination and seeing him in the next unexpected, and potentially unfortunate, juncture that keeps our eyes on our flat screen. Although he is initially portrayed as a feeble bore, living a humdrum routine, he soon becomes more complicated but deftly interesting: a man that lives life on the edge, practically having an orgasm every time he comes across a risky opportunity or shot at being dangerous and daring.
There are two reasons why I can’t stop watching the series, which are mostly down to the plotlines and crafty ways the directors have stitched together a winning series. One: I am genuinely curious about the way the show depicts meth (or any drug for that matter) being trafficked in America now that it has been brought to my attention. Secondly: I really like Walter White’s character that develops at warp speed in every episode.
Think of it like this: from the opening first scene he is a troubled man with plenty of hair but weak lungs, coughing up blood, yet by the second episode he becomes “awake” having shaved off all of his hair and acquiring $35K from his own four-gram worth of cooked up product with, barely, a scratch on him.
I simply love this show! I cannot wait to watch series two. Maybe I won’t be going to bed so early tonight, after all.