On the Eve of the Emmys: May the Breaking Bad Boys Break Lucky

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was way, way late to the Breaking Bad party.  I heard people talk about it for years, but having only caught glimpses here and there of a scene or two, I could not understand their addiction to that particular series.  I mean, really – who wants to watch a show about some dude with cancer making crystal meth?  Why glorify that kind of thing?  And meth, as drugs go, is certainly not glamorous, nor are the folks who do it, from the photos I’ve seen.

So, I never took it up (the show, or crystal meth).  But people just kept talking about it.  Incessantly.  A co-worker who was also late to the party watched it, and started telling me that I should see it or I would be totally missing out on something amazing.  This from an intelligent, family woman who had no experience with law breaking.  So my curiosity grew stronger – what was the deal?  Wtf?  Finally, during our exceptionally rainy midwestern month of June, after getting an Apple TV device and access to Netflix on my big-screen TV, I thought, hell…let me just watch an episode or two and see what all the friggin’ fuss is about.

From the first episode, from the first glimpse of awkward Walter in the desert pointing a gun as he stands shaking in his tighty-whiteys, waiting for what he thinks is the police, I was hooked.  He was not the character I expected at all, at least not at first, and that’s what drew me in.  He was a nerd, a hen-pecked husband, and while he showed some initial balls by approaching his former student Jesse to partner and make meth, he was also just as likely to look scared half to death when things went wrong.  And whenever his wife spoke, he mostly jumped.  Not exactly anyone’s idea of a drug kingpin.

And Jesse seemed like your typical stoner dude, who fell into dealing perhaps by accident, or lack of options.  He didn’t seem to harbor any real desire to move up the ranks of the drug world, and he was about as threatening as a cocker spaniel.  He had made poor choices, but he was likable.  He reminded me so much of my brother Frank, who in some ways was as sweet and bluffingly tough as Jesse, with the same puppy dog blue eyes.  Frank, too, never really liked violence or crime that came with too much risk.  Both were vulnerable to the influence of other criminals who were stronger and colder-hearted.  For the character of Jesse, that was Walter, though it would take many episodes for that to become really clear.

Fascinated, I couldn’t quit them.  I watched the entire 6 seasons via Netflix this summer.  Addictively.  Obsessively.  In nail-biting binges.  The show from season to season was like a freight train that had gone off its tracks, picking up steam and careening wildly here and there until the end of season 6 when it finally crashed in a blazing inferno of gunfire, ultimately bringing a fitting end to Walter and a smidgen of hope for his pawn, Jesse.

So why did I fall in love with this crazy show, just like so many others?  For me, it was the essence of truth and believability that ran throughout the plot, brilliantly acted by the entire cast, but most of all by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.  The writing was amazing, filled with subtle little real-life moments (like power-horny Walter feeling up his wife at a school meeting, lol).  They never became caricatures, and their transformations were subtle and built well, episode by episode.  They stumbled forward from one situation to the next, caused by Walter’s increasing egomania and thirst for power.  

And for the naysayers who feel it glorified crime or cooking meth, I vehemently disagree.  I was appalled each and every week by the things that happened to them, and there was never a feeling like “Wow, I want to cook meth and risk having psychopaths beat the living crap out of me, or shoot me and put my dead body in acid.”  Walter’s character never truly got to enjoy that money, nor did his family – and the family he wished to protect and shower with money in the event of his demise eventually shut him out of their lives completely.  And Jesse?  He got in over his head, and when he finally realized what a dangerous egomaniac he was really dealing with – it was far too late.  I never felt, even once, that the characters or their lifestyles were glorified.  

I’m so glad I watched the show, but like the rest of the fanboys and girls, I miss those crazy guys.  Here’s to you, Walt and Jesse (Bryan and Aaron) – may you get your just desserts tomorrow night.  Yo, bitches, a round of statues, please, for the Breaking Bad bunch.  Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston

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