My singly most satisfying television addiction of the past year has to be “Breaking Bad.” Found it on Netflix after half-listening to a review of the Season 4 finale on NPR. I had previous knowledge of the show: “Chem teacher gets diagnosed with cancer, makes meth to provide a financial cushion for his family…” Interesting; but darker than what I wanted at the time. Then, in the review, I started hearing terms like “super-villain” and “transformation” thrown about and my Nerd-dar started to perk up. Maybe there was more to Walter White and his trip down the rabbit hole than I’d assumed. Now, I don’t need spandex fisticuffs or insane powers in every fictional universe I peruse (it helps, but I dont need it); but if you can give me a solid story where a character stands out as if he was someone from a comic, while still existing in a realistic simulacrum of our reality, well then I’m yer Huckleberry.
So I started with the first episode. And Walter made me cringe. His milquetoast attitude, his seemingly ridiculous decisions…but there was something in Cranston’s portrayal of the titular character, something sharp and multi-faceted just under the surface, that I stuck around for the second episode. Then the third. Then the fourth.
I woke up halfway into the fifth episode, paused it, slept, and hit the queue the very next day; picking right up where I left off. You won’t want to watch this series, you’ll want to mainline it like one of Walter’s bags of blue meth. The action is horrifying. The motivations worse. The characters are all reprehensible. But you just can’t stop watching. You’ll ally yourself with one set of characters, then another, then back to the originals. And you’ll know you’re being manipulated grossly by a superb creative team. But you’ll keep watching anyway because you’ll be totally addicted by then and you’ll need your next fix.