Wednesday, November 5, 2014
"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.