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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Seven reasons I'm a "Breaking Bad" addict

My name is Gail and I'm addicted to "Breaking Bad."

This addiction breaks my "only comedies" rule. The only show my husband Mike and I watch faithfully is "Modern Family."

Mike and I are movie watchers. We don't have cable. But my son and his wife recently gave us a Roku thingie for our old-time television. To get the Roku hooked up, it took Mike a few nights, a few calls to our son, and a few trips to Radio Shack for the proper cables. Eventually the contraption worked and enabled us to subscribe to Netflix. There I saw the icon for “Breaking Bad” and I was curious about it; you can’t miss a mention of this show in the media.

I clicked on the pilot episode.

It’s about a week later now, and I’m already into the third season. Yes, I confess. I watch episode after episode every evening I have free, until about midnight. No movies. No “Modern Family.”

“Breaking Bad” is like a very long, gripping movie. And I’m a fan.

Why? Let me count the ways:

 1. The series has a compelling story: a high school chemistry teacher contracts incurable cancer and manufactures meth to insure his family’s financial future.

2. Within the compelling story, there are compelling characters. Not one of them is one-dimensional, and most of them are funny in a very black way. You can find something to like – or at least something to laugh about – in all of them. They’re human.

3. Within the compelling story and compelling characters are universal themes…. One man against the system. One man against himself. One man’s ability to adapt in order to survive. One man’s internal battle between good and evil. One man’s descent into corruption. Family versus work. And on, and on.

4. Great dialog frames the great story, characters, and themes.

5. Still, all those things might not keep me riveted. So we have our last and perhaps most important ingredient: peril. Everyone, and every relationship is, in some way, in peril. People continually make mistakes and the mistakes have consequences. Some of the mistakes are slapstick but others are serious. Sort of like real life, when you think about it. But I'm a comedy lover, you remember. Why would I stick with something so dark? Refer to Number 2 above: black humor.

6. You have chemistry! science! and the wiles of chemistry and science to ground key moments and continually rescue the leads from peril.

7. The show has fabulous cinematography (beautiful vistas and weird angles) and amazing music that is visceral or ironic in turn. 


Here is the original White family: A rather Percy Milquetoast dad, pregnant mother, sweet teenage son. How much can this picture change because of the father's decision to cook meth in order to insure their financial future? Will Walter's chemical genius and Brer Rabbit smarts continue to rescue him?...

Here is Jesse, a former student of Walt's, and low-level drug dealer. He's a basically sweet guy raised by loving middle-class parents. How much of an odd-couple team will he and Walt make as they cook and sell drugs? How much love, frustration, and loyalty will evolve?...

Here is Jane, Jesse's junkie girlfriend, who is also the child of loving parents. Can their love and Jesse's drug money set Jesse and Jane on the straight path?...
Here is Gus Fring, a careful, highly-intelligent, high-level drug distributor with ties to a Mexican drug cartel. He seems to have the power of life and death over Walter White. Is he even human?...
Here is Skyler, Walt's wife. She is smart. Walt's behavior changes and he keeps his secret life from her. She is smart. She figures out what he's hiding. Will his efforts to save his family destroy his marriage?...
Here is Saul, Walter's sleazy lawyer and partner in crime. He has no redeeming qualities but I laugh every time he's on the screen....

Here is Mike, who works both for Saul and for Gus. He too seems to have Walt's life in his hands, and he's one of the several significant bald characters on the show....

Here is Hank, Walter's brother-in-law, a drug enforcement guy with anxiety issues. He's a redneck full of macho bluster and he reminds me of so many men I've known....

Here are Jesse and Walter in their new guise - bald and mean. Will they descend completely into corruption? How will they pay for their crimes? How many lives will be ruined because of their choices? Will they live?...

[P.S. I'm writing this a year after the original post. I finally got to watch the last episodes of the show. I can say this: best ending ever, and one I didn't anticipate. Fabulously done!]

Gail Grenier is the author of Calling All Horses, Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, and Dessert First, all available from


  1. You're hooked as we are.

  2. I just started season 4 last night. I'm a little worried that Walt is gonnna get so bad that I can't relate to him anymore....