The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad

There is a long running meme among the intelligencia: most television series are garbage—formulaic, derivative, simplistic, poorly written, and often poorly acted by 'pretty' performers who have no relationship whatsoever to real-world people. They're right—most TV shows aren't worth the time it takes to click to another channel. That's what makes the few—very few—classic series so special.

Breaking Bad, AMC's dark series about a high school teacher and loving father, turned meth cook, turned drug kingpin (with all that implies), is one of the very few series that can legitimately be called a classic. It was creative, unpredictable, complex, beautifully written, well-acted by 'real' performers, and worth every minute of viewing over its five-year run. It seems that the best writers and producers know when to end a classic series, and in every case it's when you don't want the series to end.

Breaking Bad, above all, was story of transformation. Every major character had a complex story, and every story had texture and depth. The series was uncomfortably violent, it's main protagonist, Walter White, slowly transformed himself from everyman into a monster, dragging along almost everyone who was close to him. As the years passed, the series got even better, introducing shocking plot twists as the characters were sucked into a vortex of violence, corruption, and criminality. And yet, in an odd way, each maintained some semblance of humanity. Vince Gilligan, the creator of the show, and Brian Cranston, a brilliant actor who brought Walter White to life, have been immortalized by this series. It was a tour de force.

Breaking Bad ended last night. It is destined to become a classic, aired in syndication for many, many years to come. It is, arguably, the best show every produced for commercial television, and possibly, the best TV series ever produced.