Gilligan’s Show

Most shows can’t be attributed to a single person.  Dozens of writers, producers, and directors each ad their own input to television shows to make them collaborative and diverse projects.  Breaking Bad has many successful writers and actors which have helped the series reach it unprecedented level of critical acclaim.  However, Breaking Bad is a little different.  Sure, Cranston and Paul deliver impressive acting and realism to the show, but Breaking Bad’s success is almost entirely due to Gilligan’s leadership.  Gilligan — who came up with the original premise — consistently wrote, directed, and produced episodes of Breaking Bad and guided the drastic plot points and character development.  As seen in the brief intro before every episode, only one person in credited.  Only Gilligan’s name appears in the title intro, with his role being listed as “creator”.

Gilligan’s individual approach also draws heavy similarities to novels with a single author, since Breaking Bad is often compared to literature.  Though I feel television is a separate media and should be held to its own standards, the role of Gilligan as a definitive leader and creator of the series makes it easier to compare Breaking Bad to a novel.  The overflow of literary techniques — foreshadowing, symbols, motifs, themes — set Breaking Bad apart from other contemporary television series.  Though  HBO’s Game of Thrones has literary similarities,  the television series is closely based off of George R.R. Martin’s books, which makes literary similarities expected.  Breaking Bad, however, is different.  The show doesn’t have a plot or character development guideline to follow like Game of Thrones.  There aren’t symbols readily available for television producers to choose.  Instead, Gilligan focuses of keeping the series original and unpredictable — something he’s done quite well.

It is necessary to note that some of my favorite episodes of Breaking Bad, especially “Ozimandias,” were not written or directed by Gilligan.  However, a glance at the list of writers and directors for each episode reveals telling information about show.  Gilligan wrote and directed every finale and major plot changing episodes. Clearly, Vince Gilligan steers the direction of the series.  And if it weren’t for the definitive leadership of Gilligan, Breaking Bad may have turned out to be a very different series (

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