Am I surprised that Breaking Bad won "Best Drama" and Bryan Cranston "Best Actor in a Drama" at the 2014 Golden Globes? Are you kidding me? Duh, no.
I know Breaking Bad has come and gone, and that we are supposed to be immersing ourselves into the next big thing, like the new HBO series Looking or season three of Girls, which is supposed to restore our faith in Lena Dunham as the "voice of our generation" or something. But it is only now, really, four months after the series finale FeLiNa (which in case you didn't know is the combination of the elements iron, sodium and lithium, a.k.a. blood, meth and tears), that I know one thing for certain: Breaking Bad is the best show I have seen in the past 23 years. I say 23 because that is how long I have been alive. If I were older, I would probably say it's the best show to come out of the past [insert amount of years I have been on the planet here]. And here are some reasons why:
Bryan Cranston proved you can go from playing the most cliché dad ever on something like Malcolm in the Middle and end up as the least cliché dad ever only two years later:
So many times, Breaking Bad haters stated their main reason for detestation to be the fact that Bryan starred alongside Frankie Muniz in a teen show. I didn't watch Malcolm in the Middle, because quite frankly, everyone in it was super annoying. But that's the point. Bryan Cranston played the most inept yet caring, dad-ish dad ever, and turned around and convinced us all he was a murderous meth kingpin. He is the antithesis of type casting. I mean, seriously.
And Aaron Paul restored our faith in the talent of young male actors:
I can't remember the last time I saw a feature story on a young, male actor. Though I believe in gender equality completely, and think young female actresses like JLaw and Shailene Woodley deserve so many props, I WISH guys like Emile Hirsch and Aaron Paul got the kudos they deserve. Aaron Paul was amazing in his minor role in Big Love. But he was off-the-charts, so-brilliant-I-want-to-frame-your-soul amazing in Breaking Bad. That final seen will haunt me forever.
Drugs weren't the enemy; people were:
Few shows are willing to write characters that are actually funny and smart and redeemable, but who also use street drugs. It's usually, "That person does drugs, so they must be bad." A character like Todd was probably one of the worst specimens television has ever produced, and yet you never saw him smoke up. Yet characters like Badger or Skinny P, who could never quite shake off the meth, were lovable jokesters who constantly made you feel fuzzy on the inside. The "baddies" weren't ever bad just because they did drugs. It was so much more complicated than that, and in turn, so much more realistic.
Oh and, a drug addict was actually the most redeemable character, and the only one we consistently rooted for:
Oh, Jesse. He was good. He had heart. He was misunderstood by his parents, underestimated by Walter, used and abused through five series by virtually everyone. And yet, he never broke bad. EVEN when he killed Gail, you never doubted him. Walt went semi-manic. Hank was a pain in the ass. Mike was killed (by, of course, Walt). Until the final episode, Jesse was the one we wanted to survive. Jesse was the one who proved that humans can be good, beautiful beings.
It showed us an incredibly profound human evolution, and managed to not be cheesy or over-dramatic even once whilst doing it:
Walt's evolution from has-been-high-school-chem-teacher to villainous (maybe?) leader of a drug empire was perfect. We saw his pain when he killed Emilio and Domingo without totally meaning to (his first victims). We saw his fear when preparing to go to Tuco's lair to blow it up. We saw every step of his transformation. It happened slowly, and yet it happened before we knew it, in a flawless execution.
It toyed with your emotions relentlessly:
Every episode of Breaking Bad was like riding the loopiest roller coaster in the universe. You catch a breath, only to be jolted into depression/anger/excitement/bliss in an instant. Remember the time Jesse escapes his cage in the final season, and for a second you think he is going to make it over that damn fence? But then he doesn't, and a dozen bastards have guns pointing at his head. And then they don't kill him. They go for his girlfriend - Todd shooting her in cold blood as Jesse waits helplessly in the car. It was a brutal, emotional and epic journey.
Even the fillers were good:
Every show has filler episodes. You can't expect the writers to produce an incredible story line every single time, right? But that means fillers are usually pretty crap. Not in Breaking Bad, though. I don't know any other show that could produce a full hour-long episode about its characters tying to swat a fly, and make it funny and dark and introspection inducing.
It perfected the dark comedy:
Dark comedies are a tricky thing. Unless done perfectly, they can come off as incredibly crude and insensitive, or, basically, just awkward. But Breaking Bad managed to make really uncomfortable and dark situations pretty hysterical without being slapstick. Like dissolving human corpses in a bathtub using hydrofluoric acid, only to realize hydrofluoric acid will also decompose the tub AND the floor under said tub.
It showed that everyone has a back-story, and even the most garbage people out there probably didn't start off that way:
I have to admit, when we found out how abusive Uncle Hector was, I sort of empathized with Tuco. Good, old Tuco Salamanca, who could pummel his "friend" to near-death in a matter of seconds for, um, no reason. That was the beauty of Breaking Bad. Even secondary characters had flash backs and moments that made you reevaluate their entire personas. Except Todd. His Uncle was a total sh*t, yes, but Todd Was just a sociopath.