Breaking Bad: Crazy Addictive Stuff

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Turns out, I’m totally hooked on a show about, em, drugs.

Because in spite of what are some very funny and smart new fall TV shows, Breaking Bad manages to outclass most of them.

Of course I am very, very late to that AMC game (4 seasons late). Lots of my friends said I was an idiot for never having tuned in. I dug my heels in and declared it “wasn’t for me”. I stood next to Bryan Cranston at the Emmys and watched while he graciously stood aside and made way for others to walk by.  I thought, what a proper gentleman…and politestanding there holding your Emmy for that weird drug show you’re in…at which point he smiled and politely waited for me to go ahead and I did–  hoping to catch sight of some bad — but pretty — actor in some show I had seen.

For a really long time I completely eschewed Weeds and Breaking Bad because drugs don’t do anything for me and I thought I’d have a hard time getting behind any program where they became essential plot points.  Now, I’ve yet to see Weeds, but last week sat down and watched the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. And I was floored.

Now I get why Bryan Cranston was holding that Emmy. And why he’s got a few more at home. Quite simply, he deserved them.

The show is not for the faint of heart, and it’s definitely adult-ish content because they’re dealing with contraband, but if you have cable and can stomach it (and I can’t always) it’s some of the smartest TV ever. Nor does Breaking Bad glorify crystal meth (at least it didn’t for me – I’ve no more wish to know about it than I ever did). Rather, the crystal meth part is almost irrelevant because they needed something hugely verboten that an extremely mild-mannered chemistry teacher can cook and sell to make an insane amount of  cash. Why does he do this? Because he has lung cancer and he’s going to die and he wants to provide for his family – who has nothing. Seems the people who made Breaking Bad deserve props for incorporating illegal drug trafficking into one of the “noblest” storylines out there.

If you haven’t given Breaking Bad a try, you might want to because it’s some of the savviest, funniest and most heartbreaking television you will ever, ever see. Bryan Cranston is our hero, Aaron Paul is the scratty drug fiend with whom he pairs in his endeavor, and the supporting cast is just amazing. The whole show is shot in New Mexico and everything appears through a greenish yellow filter. Cranston wears a lot of green and that’s no accident. The community is small time – cozy and desolate at once. But it’s also anonymous and when Cranston and Paul actually tangle with various members of the drug mafia, it’s beyond terrifying. All told, it’s a very dark show – reminiscent of the Coen brothers or anyone else who can make floundering, murderous dealers in a hostage situation funny.

But it makes you think – which is (or once was) the goal of great dramas and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to shake the story, long after the TV’s off. So maybe you’ve been a fan for years. Or maybe you’re bored with everything else. Perhaps you’re just curious. And maybe you’re someone who saw a few episodes and gave up. Or maybe you’ve got an upcoming business trip in a hotel room with on-demand cable. Whatever it is, if you’re in the mood to get engrossed in something fantastic – check out Breaking Bad. It does not disappoint.

Now let’s get back to new fall TV.  Tomorrow? The improbable, implausible, and entirely ridiculous pleasure that is Hart of Dixie.

Today’s poll:

It’s week two of fall TV. Which of these freshmen comedies are you most excited about:

1)   2 Broke Girls

2)   New Girl

3)   Up All Night

4)   Whitney

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