Breaking Bad Review (No Spoilers)

Despite its copious amounts of exceptional reviews, it's forever increasing popularity and it's constant mentioning within modern society, for me, Breaking Bad was never a show that I had wanted to see. In my head, I couldn’t help but picture it as another typical American production centred on drugs, which almost guaranteed empty characters, poor scripting, lack of originality and an undeniable glamorisation of drugs, and as a result, I avoided it like the plague for as long as humanly possible.

Now, let’s fast-forward a few years to today, when, after constant nagging by my friends, I have finally completed a marathon of the show. Although I am nine years late to the party, it’s safe to say that Breaking Bad is hands down one of the greatest shows I have ever seen, and I am beyond glad that I had the opportunity to binge watch it within a couple of weeks.

Promotional Poster

Centred around the mundane life of Chemistry teacher Walter White, the world as he knows it is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with cancer. In a flurry of fear and desperation, he partners up with a wayward ex-student and known druggy Jesse Pinkman, thus embarking them on their journey of cooking and selling the purest Crystal Meth they could master, all in the name of money.

Clearly, the plot alone completely destroys all of my premeditated thoughts and assumptions of the show. Within each series, the plot is strong and continues to thicken and grow, right up until the very final scene of the last episode. Several of my peers had informed me that the show is slow to start and that I will have to bear with it to begin with, and yet I seemed to immerse myself deeply within its story from the very first episode. Fuelled with action, plot twists and cliff-hangers, the show moved at an incredibly fast and intense pace throughout, and certainly wins the award for be the most binge-watchable show I have ever encountered.

Usually, though, when a plot is so highly thought through and developed, the growth and personalisation of characters are heavily lost; however, Breaking Bad excels when it comes to its character depth, as well as the casting. Originally, having only seen Bryan Cranston in Malcolm in the Middle, I was sceptical about whether or not he could pull off the infamous character of Heisenberg, especially when surrounded by a number of unknown (at least to me) actors, but like usual, I stand corrected.

Every actor managed to truly bring the complex characters to life, to a point where I can’t picture a single person who could have played any of the roles better. With the help of the cast and an incredible thought and script, all characters seemed, for lack of a better word, real. Emotionally, I found myself invested it them, and at stages, even found myself feeling physically angry at some of them, not to mention the harrowing heartbreak I suffered through, which was a common side effect for when they were upset on screen. The relationships replicated those of the real world around us, and even the central relationship between Walter and Jesse is so perfectly flawed. In fact, I feel as though it is the flaws within aspects such as relationships and characters that truly brings the show to life, and profoundly added to its success.

Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, is a prime example for this, and although it is rare for me to discuss a single character in depth, the role of Jesse is one which has truly struck a chord within me. To me, Jesse is the single stereotype. He’s the wild child, the broken and the desperate, all of which you would expect, and yet his sense of humour remains. I feel as though it says a lot about me when I say he is relatable, but in my defence, Aaron Paul portrayed the character so…beautifully, it just can’t be helped.

Jesse Pinkman (Image: AMC)

Along with all the things I loved about the show, which I can’t include all of without risking this review becoming a spoiler fuelled dissertation, there were a few minor dislikes. For me, some of the camera shots and movements really broke the verisimilitude of the show, and by this, I am referring to those which were shot in the style of attaching a camera to an object as its being moved. I’m not sure if the fact that I study film, and therefore analyse every shot, has something to play in this, but I just felt as though some of the object’s point of view shots weren’t effective, and instead were distracting. On the other hand, there were some stunning shots and stills throughout the series, which were truly inspiring for an aspiring cinematographer.

(Images: AMC)

The level of flashbacks over the course of the series added a strong core to the plot, as well as some needed history without becoming over-baring. With that said, some the flashbacks within the first couple of series didn’t seem to lead anywhere, but within the later series, they add vital depth to the plot.

Speaking of the later series, it would be foolish of me to not slightly mention the ending; however, like the rest of the review, I shall try to remain spoiler free. Although I didn’t want the series to end purely due how much I enjoyed it, the ending certainly came at the right time. A lot of loose ends were tied up; however, several unanswered questions still remained in regard to character’s futures, and I can’t decide whether I love the air of mystery or if the frustration of not knowing is slowly going to kill me.

At just under one thousand words, now comes the time to conclude, even though I can’t shake off the feeling that I have missed out far too much. In all honesty, words cannot do this series justice. Its gritty realism and carefully thought out details underpin a masterpiece worthy of the hype it has received, and the strong cast, whether it was a main or minor part of the show, were impeccable. Many keyboard warriors complained about the lack of strong female character, as the females do act as a support to the dominant male characters; however, this is something that I never truly noticed, and I really enjoyed the character relationships and dynamics as they were.

To me, the series is practically perfect in every way, I only wish I had watched it sooner. 


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