Breaking Bad (Goddammit)

published on 2015-06-09

Man, this is the first sentence into this post, and I already hate myself. I don’t wanna write a post on Breaking Bad; it’ll be just too band-wagony for me. I created the title, that’s enough, right? Can I stop now?

How about now? I waited like 10 minutes before writing this line…

Get on with it Will you get to work?

Okay, FINE. We’re gonna do this. The real title should be “Why I Should Eat My Hat About Breaking Bad But Was Right About Hating It”. I’ve avoided the Breaking Bad hype the entire time it was on TV. Well, mostly. I did watch the pilot and the next episode, but the dude in the basement was still alive when I left it. I just couldn’t get into it. There was nothing in that two hours of television which prompted me to continue.

For some reason, I decided to hunker down and give Breaking Bad another chance. So, about 3 weeks ago, I started watching it, an episode or two each day.

I finished the entire series last night. And man, I’m not really happy I spent that time.

BTW, here there be spoilers. The show ended in 2013; deal with it.

I am the one who spoils I am the one who spoils!

Don’t get me wrong, it was VERY good. Compelling. Mesmerizing. My wife would say addicting. But man, it’s like not being able to look away when you see a train wreck happening. I don’t feel that my life was improved in any substantial way by watching the show. Well, maybe one; I can share in the collective trauma it inflicted on everyone, bringing about a sense of camaraderie. But, again, that’s like being able to connect with someone else who was in a car when it rolled over.

I kept watching, hoping I would genuinely like someone. The closest I got? Mike and Huell. They’re the only ones I knew well enough to have any feeling for and who wasn’t just a scumbag at heart. Didn’t like Walt Jr./Flynn. Didn’t like Walt’s wife (and, in fact, liked her even less as time went on). Didn’t like Walt or Jesse, though I routed for them at times, but more from a pity standpoint. Hank was a macho douche, Gomie was a yes-man, Marie was a whiny, needy, self-centered bitch, etc. All in all, I just didn’t like anyone.

Mike Kinda sad when Dead-eyed McGee is the guy I liked the most

You know what? That’s okay though. They weren’t written to be likable. One thing I totally respect about the show is that it isn’t some feel-good drama with contrived circumstances. There were several places where a typical pattern is broken. The pattern is that a protagonist hits some really bad obstacle with another character, they talk about it, the protagonist trying to change the other character’s mind, and after some intense moments, there is a reprieve of some sort. However, there were PLENTY of instances where this just…. doesn’t work. To be sure, there are some where it does, but at least it’s more realistic that way.

Now, even though I didn’t really like any of the characters, I empathized with some of them. I also found similarities between them and people I actually know. As an example, I see a lot of my dad in Walter White, and can totally see how circumstances like those presented in the show could make a person act this way. I understand and essentially believe most of the characters, most of the circumstances, whether or not they subjectively suck. You really believe that nobody wants to be in many of the situations, but here they are again, so let’s just deal with it.

So, all in all, it felt… real. It felt less scripted and more winged, more unpredictable, more based on what people would actually do, than what many other movies and TV shows offer. That’s what I think is so compelling about Breaking Bad. Watching these people become shells of their former selves, continuing to act due mostly to momentum and, very rarely, due to sheer will. And that’s just depressing. This is not a happy show. That’s why I continue to hate it. But it was VERY good in its presentation and execution. And, for that, I will respect it.

Huell ‘course, I wouldn’t have this pic without Breaking Bad, so I guess there’s a consolation