the addicting, educating genius of "Breaking Bad"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So I'm late to the party. So it took me awhile to catch on. Still, it is impossible to avoid reporting on my awe.

"Breaking Bad," the AMC TV show that won all those Emmys, all that acclaim, all that morning gossip, has snared me.

The moral genius of it. The propulsive force of it. The entangling tangling complex complete story line. The text and subtext and collaborative creatives. Aaron Paul (MisTer WhiTe). Dean Norris (it was you). Betsy Brandt (acres of purple). RJ Mitte (give that guy a good car). Anna Gunn (New Mexico in her blood). Giancarlo Esposito (because he's a man.) Bryan Cranston (I am the danger).

And Vince Gilligan. A million Heisenberg hats off to Vince Gilligan, the guy who didn't study chemistry but who compensated for that by reading Popular Science and hiring consulting experts and believing in the color blue.

Any writer out here, wondering how story gets done: Take the time to watch "Breaking Bad." Binge it, as I have. Banish your bedtime. Chart the course and count the risks. Consider all the "rules" you've been taught and how this show leaves them in shambles. You think the hero of your story needs to be likable? Think again. You want to give your characters a really long time to swat at a fly? Go right ahead, so long as you interlude and conclude with confessions that fall just shy of getting heard. You want to assert a theme without ever explaining a theme? The path has been laid. You want to go hog wild with the color purple? Tuck it into nearly every scene.

I had no interest in writing while binging on "Breaking Bad." I stopped serving real meals so that we could sandwich up and watch the Cook. I stopped thinking I knew something about poetry.


Kelly H-Y said...

I'm further behind you! Haven't watched it yet, but now - after your post - I'm even more curious about it!! And ... SO excited about your upcoming new book!!

Dana said...

In total agreement! I only just finished this past spring and it was such an obliterating experience, it was like I fell down a rabbit hole. There were times I cursed my husband for getting me hooked on such violence and heartache, but the poignancy and brilliance of it made it impossible to look away or stop watching. I continued thinking about the characters long after the final credits rolled. Just like being flattened by a fantastic novel, it marks you.

Unknown said...

My husband and I were also late to the party. But someone told him how wonderful the show is. Then the couple who don't watch TV or even if they do, they never watch the same show, agreed to see it's first couple of episodes.

Well, the very first episode got us hooked. We started on Friday after Thanksgiving of last year and we finished by the beginning of 2014. It was FANTASTIC! By the end, we were ready to be done; we got a fill of the blue crystals and misery. What an amazing creativity! How do writers come up with such ideas?

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