Breaking Bad as American Gothic by Milbo.
I’ve gone on a full blown Netflix bender over the last few days, staying up to nearly 1 AM each morning in my attempt to squeeze every possible episode of Breaking Bad into the shortest amount of time possible. It’s a good thing I just gave the show a try because I love it in deeply diabolical ways and don’t think I could have waited week after week for each new episode, let alone do it over five seasons.
It’s not like I’ve been living under a rock and unaware of its popularity. Quite the opposite. I tend to steer away from things that are really popular, assuming I won’t like them. There are plenty of shows that are popular and also truly horrible. Asking someone their opinion of a TV show is like asking someone for dining recommendations. It all depends on who you ask. One person’s Michelin dining experience is another’s Macaroni Grill. The most obvious TV example has to be anything with a Kardashian in it. Sure their shows are very popular, but they will also burn your retinas, empty your core, and leave you feeling unwashed. A K-hole.
I knew Breaking Bad was about a high school teacher who decided to start cooking some kind of magical meth, eventually turning into a criminal mastermind. But what I didn’t realize is how funny it would be, truly and darkly funny in a way I adore. In that way it’s similar to another show I like and one that is keeping me enslaved to Comcast: Dexter. What sets Breaking Bad apart from Dexter, however, is the carefully constructed criminal ineptitude of the two main characters and much of the show’s focus, at least in the episodes I’ve watched.
Dexter is not criminally inept. While emotionally vacant, he’s got his routine down and is never really out of control in any situation. Of course you worry he’ll eventually get caught – the show has to end somehow – but you also know it would only happen if he did something monumentally stupid and completely out of character. Walter White, and more importantly, Jessie? Watching them bungle, recover, and repeat keeps me hooked. The dialogue is also so much better and mostly because, unlike Dexter, they are not Sociopaths and have actual feelings. And do they have feelings.
In four days I have managed to make my way through seasons 1 and 2. Have I mentioned that my kids just went back to school? I try to keep my days free of couch time – though I’ve slipped up here and there – and only watch once the kids are in bed. Have I mentioned they’ve consistently been getting to bed early every day this week? Each night the first episode airs at 7:30 and at its conclusion the word problems begin in my head:
“If each Breaking Bad episode is 47 minutes long, and it is 8:20 PM, how many episodes can I watch before midnight?” Please round up your answer.
Midnight comes and I have an internal debate as to whether or not it would be wise to just watch one more. Last night I rationalized staying up so that I could wrap up season 2 and be done with it for a few days, ending on a clean note. My only hope of resuming a normal life is that after 21 episodes I’m starting to really dislike Walter. My interest in his criminal advancement is fading as his health improves. His success seems more self-involved than altruistic and his antihero glow is fading. The bad news is that I’m now more interested in everyone else and they just keep getting more interesting.
The kids are gone for the next 6 hours and I have plenty of things to do that don’t involve Netflix, and yet…