Bryan Cranston (right) and Aaron Paul (left) star in “Breaking Bad,” which aired its series finale this October. Photo courtesy alphacoders.com.
By now, there are two different types of people watching TV. Those who have seen the amazingly well-made drama “Breaking Bad,” and those who haven’t.
For those who still aren’t familiar with the show, it is a story about a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, who gets cancer and starts cooking methamphetamine to pay his bills. At least, that is the excuse he gives.
Some fans of the show have noted that all of Walt’s enemies have a habit of underestimating him, but the truth is, we as the audience underestimate him as well. When we first see Walt, he is at his lowest and weakest. In the pilot, he gets pushed around by everybody from his boss, his students and even his wife. The man we see in the beginning is not an evil-looking man, but as the show progresses, we watch him become more and more intimidating.
The funny part is, as many terrible things as we watch Walter White do, there are still many people who are still on his side who can see the justification for the things he does. This is because the show’s writers do such an amazing job of humanizing the character even at his most inhuman moments.
Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, said that the original pitch for the show was “to take Mr. Chips and turn him into “Scarface.” With Cranston’s role as the father on “Malcolm in the Middle” and his talent in playing serious roles — like the financial deviant Stan Grossman in “Little Miss Sunshine” — it isn’t hard to buy either role.
Many people have praised Cranston for his performance in this show, and they should. Unlike some shows where a character walks the precarious line between good and evil, Cranston is completely believable in both positions.
However, the real secret to this show’s success is the strength of the supporting cast. Aaron Paul plays a high school dropout and former student of Walt’s named Jesse Pinkman that provides Walt a window into the drug dealing world.
Dean Norris plays Hank, a DEA agent and Walt’s brother-in-law. Anna Gunn, plays Walt’s wife, who gets a lot of hate from fans, but her performance is absolutely amazing. All of these roles in the hands of lesser actors would make an inferior show, but their talent raises the quality of an already amazing show.
To make a movie, you need a lot of things to come together just right. The lighting, the cinematography, the director, the actors, the writers, the editors and many other factors all have to be just right — if one element is off by even a little bit, it can be enough to ruin the entire experience.
A TV show has to do all the same things, but keep it up season after season.
The main reason why “Breaking Bad” was one of the best dramas on TV is because it managed to take every single element and make it work for five seasons. Yes, Cranston’s performance is amazing; yes the supporting cast is also amazing; but so are the directors, the editors and especially the writers.
Of course, the show is one of the most successful shows of it’s type, but it still seems as there are some people who still aren’t into it.
Chances are, if you have seen the show and tried to get one of your friends to watch it, you’ve probably heard them tell you that they couldn’t get into it.
This is most likely because of the slow pace of the first season. Come to think of it, a great deal of the show is actually pretty slow. There is literally an entire episode where Walt and Jesse try to kill a fly.
If you stick with it, the final season is incredibly action packed. This is probably why a lot of fans who had kept up with it by season five thought it was amazing, whereas other people who were just starting season one didn’t get it.
The show might have it’s slow moments, but ask any fan who watched the final season, and you can be sure it will be well worth it in the end.
Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]