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Jane After Dark: Breaking Bad is Just Good TV

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When I was an editor over at TV Squad – pre HuffPo bloodletting — I wrote a column called Jane After Dark, where I ruminated on whatever show I was watching after the work was done and everyone else in the house had gone to bed.

And because what gets posted on the Information Superhighway stays on the Information Superhighway FOREVER, you can still read some of those old posts here. I wrote about Buffy, FireflySupernatural, Weeds, The Wire, Mad Men, Gossip Girl, Sons of Anarchy, Fringe, Gilmore Girls and all sorts of other shows.

Now the time has come, my friends, to talk about Breaking Bad. It wasn’t an immediate lustful affair. It took me eons to get into this show. I had the season one DVD set on my shelf for a good couple of years, and even started watching it four or five times. I’m not sure why it took me so long, but once I got past the first few episodes, I was long gone, in love, total abandon.

After season one, I’ve been watching the show on Netflix (read all about my Netflix obsession), and I’m almost to the end of season four. I would love nothing more than to just watch Breaking Bad non-stop — I imagine it’s akin to a meth addiction — but by the time I get done working for the day, it’s usually around 2 a.m., and I get maybe one or two eps in before lapsing into a coma.

I kept hearing people like my pal Joel Keller say how great the show was — he’s written about it a lot over the years, including this interview with Vince Gilligan over at Vulture. Now I finally see the light. It IS a great show. And it keeps getting better and better. Never a dull moment. Nothing wasted. Performances that are both bold and nuanced.

Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of chemistry teacher-turned meth cooker Walter White makes me look at all chemistry teachers everywhere with a skeptical eye. In fact, Walter reminds me of a chemistry teacher I had in high school, which is probably just the sort of reaction the showrunners want — to see Walter as a real person, your next-door-neighbor with lots of secrets.

And yet you can see the agony he goes through trying to cover it all up, lie to his family, and wonder just how long this facade can continue before his DEA brother-in-law puts all the clues together. If that happens in season five, don’t tell me. I’m not there yet.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad | AMC

In Jesse Pinkman, Aaron Paul gives us a character so believable that he surely must BE the baggy-pants slacker who backpeddles his way into a meth-making business. I keep thinking he and Walter should be closer with all they’ve gone through together, but I guess the craziness of the business and the fact that they’re sort of enabling each other is taking its toll. I still think deep down they really care for each other.

By the way, at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards the other night, Aaron Paul took home a statue for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. It was his third nomination and second Emmy win. The show has landed tons of other awards over the years. This video made me laugh.

Along with the great acting, writing, and production, maybe part of the reason Breaking Bad is so beloved is because it hits close to home. Look, who among us hasn’t thought about doing something illegal to make ends meet? It’s a tough world out there, and nearly impossible to pay all the bills through the usual legal means of revenue.

Between the gun-running of Sons of Anarchy, the pot business of Weeds, and the meth-making of Breaking Bad, we’re getting tons of ideas from our TV sets every week. But that’s probably good fodder for another post.

Do you watch Breaking Bad? Or is the premise too ethically and legally questionable for you to tune in? Leave comments below. 

Aaron Paul at the Breaking Bad After-Party | Emmys 2012

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

Jane Boursaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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8 comments

  1. I keep hearing about this show…but I’ve never seen it. Wish I had started watching it when it first came out. Now it feels too hard to catch up on all those episodes!

    •  @Sheryl I know, it seems overwhelming to think about catching up on a show from the beginning, but now I’d like to slow it down to savor it, because the last part of season 5 won’t air until next summer. 
       
      I sort of put Breaking Bad in the same camp as The Hunger Games, in that I can’t believe I’m so hooked on something with such a tragic storyline. 

  2. Breaking Bad is riveting. It isn’t often you get to watch a series that is nuanced, thought provoking AND will shock your socks off!

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