Initial Struggles of Breaking Bad

Five seasons, 10 Emmys, and over 10 million viewers.  Breaking Bad has developed a reputation of prestige and perfection.  From receiving the highest reviews of any television series ever, to developing a immensely passionate fan-base, Breaking Bad will live on as an example of what television ought to be.  However, Breaking Bad wasn’t always held in such high regards.  In fact, there were times when it was doubtful that it would even become a show.

Originally, networks rejected Breaking Bad because of it’s questionable morality.  Never mind the gore and violence, it was the moral decisions of the protagonists that turned networks away from Breaking Bad.  Who wants to watch a show about a man commit crimes as his health deteriorates?  Fortunately, AMC was willing to air a darker, more serious television series to attract a small, untapped television audience.  Though AMC was willing to gamble with Breaking Bad, there were initial problems with the premise of the show.  Gilligan was criticized by many cable companies, including AMC, for similarity to Weeds, a series about a widow who sells marijuana as a way to supplement her income and provide for her family.  Gilligan claims that had he known the premise of Weeds, he wouldn’t have pitched the idea of Breaking Bad to different networks and cable channels.  Once Breaking Bad secured a spot on television, it still struggled occasionally with production and popularity in its first season.  The difficulties of the first season were topped off by the 2008 writer’s strike, which ended the series after only seven episodes (originally nine were scheduled).

Walt picking through acid-dissolved remains of an enemy...Not intended for a mainstream audience

Walt picking through acid-dissolved remains of an enemy…Not intended for a mainstream audience (S1E3 1:39)

After having watched all 62 episodes — many of which I’ve seen multiple times — the first season feels much different than the rest.  It’s less refined and many of the supporting characters seem generic.  Hank’s loud, rambunctious personality is a clear counter to Walt’s quietness.  As an avid proponent of the series, I’ve told many of my friends to watch the series.  Several complain about the pilot episode and never bother to continue watching.  Though characters may lack complexity and production may be spotty, Gilligan is quick to add plot twists that keep the series unpredictable and enjoyable.  With plot development, the characters become multidimensional and by the second season, I’ve lost all skepticism for the series.

When critics reviews of Breaking Bad are quantified, there is a clear upward trend, which each series becoming better and better.  How did a struggling concept somehow become the winner of nearly every television award available?  Well, Vince Gilligan is largely to thank, as well as Cranston and Paul.  Check out their background and contributions to the series, as well as their plans going forward.


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