On the Bandwagon: ‘Breaking Bad’


Welcome to the re-debut of On The Bandwagon, Heave’s TV column in which Marissa Morales talks up all the TV that you really should be watching by now. This is the last installment detailing of some of Heave’s favorite returning shows this week, but go into our Archive to see what else Marissa recommended.

I resisted Breaking Bad for a while, for quite a while. I had tried watching it a couple of times but it just wouldn’t take. I have this theory that you either fall hard for Mad Men or Breaking Bad on the first go, rarely both.

I’m glad Breaking Bad finally took. This show will go down as one of, if not the, greatest show to ever grace the small screen. This show will be on top ten lists until the end of time, vying for the top spot with The Wire. It’s a bold statement but completely warranted.

In the beginning, the show is about Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer who needs money to pay for his medical bills and for his family, pregnant wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) and son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte). After running into an old student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), he gets into the meth cooking business in order to make some extra cash. As the show progresses, it becomes unclear why Walt does the things that he does, outside of suffering from an inferiority complex. Walt’s need for absolute control destroys everything and everyone around him.

People will be analyzing Walter White until the end of time; The show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, has made a character so polarizing, when he shouldn’t be at all. Gilligan leaves it to the viewer, but Walter White is a bad man, a very bad man. Do not trust people who trust Walter White.

Jesse Pinkman is the heart of the show. No matter what, the viewer will root for Jesse. As the show progresses though, he becomes more and more broken, and Aaron Paul’s portrayal devastates the viewer. Yet, we keep watching. Everything he loves or believes in is constantly taken from him, but he keeps going. We’re all rooting for you Jesse.

Skyler has become a controversial character – at her core, she just wants to protect her children, but she is constantly perceived as a “bitch.” Gilligan himself has said that he never intended for audiences to see her this way, yet here we are. Skyler is so important. She makes terrible decisions sometimes, but watch this show and give me the name of one character who doesn’t.

Skyler’s sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt) and her husband Hank (Dean Norris), are important and comprise so many wonderful moments of the show (“Minerals Marie!”). But as the show progresses, and becomes darker thanks to Walt, and the comic relief comes fewer and farther between, the viewer’s eyes are opened to the sheer chaos Walt has inflicted upon everyone. No one is safe from Walt or his unintentional wrath.

The revolving cast of “competition” for Walt is worth noting, as some of the greatest performances in television exist on this show. Whether it’s a character that’s around for the entire series, or for a season or two, there are so many wonderful performances to absorb. Most notably, Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) will probably be one of my favorite parts of the series when all is said and done. Also, Mike (Jonathan Banks) is such a wonderful character.

The character development on the show is a beautiful thing to watch, but incredibly heart breaking. Watching episode one Jesse to current Jesse is enough to make anyone cry. The show is enough to break a person, yet viewers keep coming back for more. At this point, we just want Walt to get what’s coming to him. He is Heisenberg, he is The Danger, he’s a BAD MAN.

Gilligan has created a show that will be hard to top, and one that we’ll still be talking about long after it comes to a close this Sunday. The performances on this show will be the gold standard for a long time.  I’m sad to see it go, but I’m more excited to see how it ends. We all have our dream endings, our probable endings and then we’ll have the real thing.

Stop putting off watching this show, watch it. And be better (and probably a bit sadder) for it.