Details: First aired on AMC in 2008. Five Seasons at around twelve episodes per season. Each episode is about an hour long.
In many people’s minds, Breaking Bad is the greatest show of all time. After watching it, I can see why they’d say that. It’s good, really good. No spoilers ahead.
Breaking Bad is a fictional crime drama about the illegal methamphetamine industry in the southwest, specifically Albuquerque. Methamphetamine is commonly shortened to Meth, or Crystal Meth. The show centers on the character Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher and his involvement in the criminal enterprise.
This show works on a lot of narrative levels. There’s the criminal aspect which makes sense and helps explain how a crystal meth business would function. It’s like watching a good heist movie that explains the heist. You really get a good feeling for how the drug trade works or could work.
Along with the drug side is the family drama side of it. We get to see how our protagonist deals with his family as well as his participation in the meth world. It’s an interesting juxtaposition that is reminiscent of movies like The Departed, where a character has to be two people in order to fit into both worlds and continue his deception.
The cast is great and very believable. In fact, there is a character with cerebral palsy whose actor actually has cebral palsy. I don’t know how much more authentic a portrayal you can get.
But what really elevates the show is the plot. There are a lot of twists and a lot of character progression throughout the five seasons of the show. There is this feeling you get with the core cast of characters that they just want to be good people, but make a ton of money through the drug trade. As each season goes past, the danger and descent into wrongdoing escalates. By the fifth and last season, stakes are at their highest and that tension can be felt up until the ending.
Speaking of the ending, there have been lots of pieces of entertainment where the ending of a show weighs heavily in my enjoyment of the entirety of the show. I felt the ending to Breaking Bad was done right and was very satisfying. What’s interesting about the ending was that after each preceding episode, I still wasn’t exactly sure how things would be play out, which I thought made the ending that much better.
Cinematography is also great and there are many moments throughout the show where it’s clear the director or whoever was in charge of photography made some real auteur decisions about how sequences should be shot and how shots should be set up.
Overall, a good show that really kept my attention. I don’t know if I’d call it the greatest show of all time, but it was a satisfying watch.