When Richard Osman at The Guardian listed his 100 top things you honestly don’t need to do before you die, the first point he made was watching Breaking Bad is one of them.
Which was interesting for anyone who has found you can’t spend a day in the office without wondering if that’s actually true.
“Have you watched/Did you watch Breaking Bad?” is one of the most relentless queries of 2013. When faced with it, if you’re not bang up to date, it’s hard not to feel a little ashamed.
Whoever’s sitting next to you will chime in exuberantly almost before you’ve finished making your excuses. Your punishment is 30 minutes in office exile, shoved into the silent corner with the Radio National fan.
Your resentment for Walter White an co. builds. Hey, some people just don’t have time to watch TV all day. And you were planning on an epic catch-up binge right before Series Five started.
Only now it’s already over, you know how it ends (if you don’t, and you don’t want to don’t read on) and you’ve still got to get through the second series of Game of Thrones before April.
Wait, the third series. And all those Walking Dead eps.
Maybe you should just forget about Breaking Bad and its 10 Primetime Emmy Awards, 12 individual various Best Actor awards for Bryan Cranston and fan letter from Anthony Hopkins.
You wouldn’t be alone. These people did:
1. This former teen pop idol, who is a fan of the series, but not the ending:
I thought it was really sad. I didn’t like it at all. I don’t think [Walt] should have died.
Maybe they’ll do another episode where the ambulance comes and revives him or something.
2. This Hi! Magazine’s reporter who broke her hate for BB down into three parts:
– Firstly, the show is ridiculously melodramatic. I find it just so unbelievably tiresome… It just gets so boring, the yelling is tiring, and some of the characters are so goddamn irritating as well. Tuco was a pain in the arse madman, some of the Meth-heads are so chronically dull it hurts, worse yet the endless male bravado and banter is mundane as hell.
– Ok, he used to be a nobel prize winning scientist and now he’s a chemistry teacher, but still, it’s not the worst turn of events ever… Cancer was just one more piece of shit life was throwing at him after some fairly unfortunate turns. Bryan Cranston is a great actor who portrays Walt brilliantly, but I can’t tell how believable the lies are meant to be. I think an interesting game might be ‘what lie could Walt have told that would have made more sense than that bullshit?’ because I’m sure that’s a goldmine of scrapped plots right there. The episode where he has half a million he can’t spend and is upset his son has turned him into a charity case was like playing ‘how slowly can a nobel prize winner put two and two together?’ before ridiculously overplayed slimeball Saul finally nudges him in the direction of paypal.
– The shows portrayal of women is, across the board, atrocious. Never has a show so ultimately relied on the Whore/Mother (or Madonna) spectrum. Literally, the main female character, Skylar, is the ultimate soccer mum, while most of the female casting aside from this is are meth-whores, and none of these women are scripted at all well.
3. This Lily Rothman from Time who made the bravest of starts:
I don’t watch Breaking Bad. Never have. And — though I know you’re not supposed to say never — probably never will.
Before going into the point-by-point:
– The most obvious reason is that there are only so many hours in the day and, sadly, even fewer in which it’s practical to watch television. Everyone has to make choices.
– Any inkling of an urge to binge-watch and catch up was crushed by friends and colleagues who described a sense of relief that the stress of the show would end soon and the way that fans (and even one of its stars!) describe the experience of watching Breaking Bad as physically sickening… Breaking Bad sounds really good. It just doesn’t sound enjoyable, and I’d rather spend my TV time watching something that is.
– Saturation of recaps in the media means Rothman a) doesn’t have to watch it to form an opinion on it and b) robs Breaking Bad creators of the chance to show you what they’ve got. It means missing the art of it.
4. This British guy who watched a series and a half before applying the “90-page rule”:
The series about a crystal-meth cooking high-school teacher, which has critics flapping around and frothing at the gills to praise it, leaves me cold.
I don’t believe in Walter’s relationship with Jesse .. And Walt’s bleating wife is so annoying that whenever she appears on screen I start to rip my fingernails out. The idea that they would ever have married each other is ridiculous.
I could watch Deadwood all day, and The Wire probably cost me a degree class. The problem is that we’re now encouraged to view these entities as fully formed wholes, rather than episodic progressions.
I’ve reached my page 90 with Breaking Bad, and you can shove the rest of the boxes where the Blu-Rays don’t shine.
5. This proud Bitch Magazine member of the Breaking Bad dropout club:
It’s just not worth having horrific images (like, say, an acid-soaked dead body splattering all over a hallway) lasered into my brain forever just so I can find out what happens to a fictional chemistry teacher.
To me, it feels like there’s an increasing expectation to be nonchalant about extreme violence if you want to participate in pop culture.
I’m not up for wearing myself thin to follow the decline of a male anti-hero chemistry teacher and a bunch of no-good guys over the course of six seasons. I’ve got enough villains to worry about in real life.
6. This aforementioned Guardian guy who knows it won’t be as good as the Kevin Keegan episode of Superstars:
By all means watch Breaking Bad (I’ve heard it’s good – have you heard it’s good?), but the only bit of TV you actually have to see before you die is the episode of Superstars where Kevin Keegan falls off his bike. Use the time I have saved you to watch the TV you actually want to. I recommend Pointless, for example.
7. This Oscar Award winning director called Oliver Stone:
I … happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie – it would be laughed off the screen.
Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke.
It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence. And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit! … I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity.
If people think that bringing a machine gun to your last meeting is a solution to a television series that’s very popular, I think they’re insane.
8. This grumpy Wired chick who hates its Toxic Masculinity:
Money and masculinity are deeply linked by the series.
Walt and science, making everyone their bitch since 2008.
In short, calling a man a ‘bitch’ is designed to diminish his power by comparing him to a woman. It implies that women are weaker and less powerful, and also that they are to be used and dominated.
Over and over again, men in Breaking Bad send and receive the message that the last thing they want to be is women.
9. And finally, this jaded AV Clubber who says it’s all been done before, and better:
As underwhelming as many of the individual components of Breaking Bad are, the more central problem is that all of its essential concepts and themes have been done before… frequently better, and not that long ago. The similarities between Breaking Bad’s premise and those of both Weeds and The Sopranos are obvious.
And he says it’s clicheed:
…Even in the look of the show, clichés abound. In Breaking Bad, the sky over Mexico is always yellow. Much of the show, including its quietest moments, is afflicted with an unmotivated camera shudder that will date the show as badly as the excessive use of zooms dates many films from the early ’70s.
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