One of our favourite shows in the last few years is Breaking Bad. We were gripped almost immediately. The show centres around a small cast, which means that there’s very little dull exposition in the initial episodes – you’re thrown straight into the action. Over time, these characters are fleshed out, but in the meantime their personalities are changing drastically as a result of what they are experiencing.
In a nutshell, the main man is Walter White, a Chemistry teacher who gets cancer and turns to producing crystal meth to (a) pay for his treatment, and (b) build up a nest egg for his family after he’s gone. Gradually he becomes corrupted, partly by the money and power, and partly by the thrill of pushing his scientific knowledge to the limits. Meanwhile, his business partner, Jessie Pinkman, who is a small-time dealer when they first start working together, gradually becomes more human.
While these two characters are phenomenally performed, the supporting cast is also magnificent. Not so much as to outshine the leads, but enough that your heart is broken when they eventually get killed off. Because very often they do. This program has an utterly staggering death count. This infographic puts the death count at 247, which is a slightly misleading number as it includes unnamed characters. Still, 39 named characters is quite a lot for a program of this nature.
And what is it’s nature? Well, fairly violent. But also very often darkly humorous, and sometimes a little bit psychologically torturous. Watching Walt’s descent can be very unsettling. But you can’t stop watching, because you want to see just how far he’s going to fall, and who’s going to still be alive at the end of it.
What can it be compared to? I really have no idea. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. When we first started watching Weeds, I compared it to Breaking Bad, since the plots have certain similarities, and they both share a certain bleakness, but I think that their target audiences are really very different. Anyone got any thoughts on this?