Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Breaking Bad

by | May 2, 2014 | Comments

Maybe you didn’t have AMC at the time — or perhaps you weren’t sure you could wait a week between each episode — but now, with every season of Breaking Bad available on DVD and streaming, you have no excuse not to marathon one of the most binge-able shows in the history of television.

Here’s what you need to know before you start Breaking Bad.


Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad
What’s the premise? Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher, uses his expertise to produce crystal meth with a former flunky student (Aaron Paul) in order to finance treatment for advanced lung cancer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

What’s it like? In his pitch to AMC, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan described Walter White as “Mr. Chips turning into Scarface” — a premise which Gilligan sticks to throughout the series’ five seasons. Part fish-out-of-water story, part midlife-crisis-to-end-all-midlife-crises, Walter White’s journey from good guy to bad guy captures as much of the themes and styles of a spaghetti western as it does a gangster film. The darkly comical cast of side characters could have easily been imported from a Coen Brothers movie, and when Breaking Bad does suspense, it’s in the same league as Quentin Tarantino’s most intense and memorable scenes.

Where can I see it? Now that all five seasons have aired, you can view the complete series on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and iTunes.

How long will it take? Breaking Bad is 62 highly-addictive episodes, running about 48 minutes each. If you do two episodes a day, it’ll take you a month — but you may find it difficult to watch Breaking Bad in moderation.

What do the critics think? All five seasons of Breaking Bad are Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer, and seasons two through five notched perfect scores of 100 percent each. It doesn’t get much better than this. In 2011, Verne Gay of Newsday called Breaking Bad “TV’s best series” and Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “One of television’s greatest dramas… It’s one of the most fearless and selfless gambits ever hatched in the name of enduring art.” At the beginning of season five, David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “There are so many reasons the show stands out from virtually any other series on TV: the performances, the writing, the direction and, most of all, the creative vision of Vince Gilligan.” And David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Breaking Bad is the quintessential series of our binge-watching TV era.” So, what are you waiting for?

Why should I watch this? With Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan poses a provocative question: If you knew you could die soon, would you make a bold change to your life — and would it be bad? To answer that question, Gilligan created a character whose gradual transformation from protagonist to villain is a fascinating study in power, ego, success, greed, intelligence, manipulation, identity, and mortality. Bryan Cranston is riveting as Walter White, and his relationships with his wife (Anna Gunn), his son (RJ Mitte), his brother-in-law (Dean Norris), and most of all, his protege (Aaron Paul), give glimpses into a character who otherwise won’t reveal what he’s thinking — except that he’s in complete control. Have trust in Walter White, and you will be in for one of the most exciting adventures of your TV-watching life.

What’s my next step? Breaking Bad draws on a number of films for inspiration that you should consider adding to your queue. In particular, Ikiru, a 1952 film by Akira Kurosawa, tells the story of a Tokyo man with terminal cancer and how his life changes after his diagnoses (Ikiru is based on Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which might also interest you). Also, no comparative analysis of Breaking Bad is complete without a screening of the 1968 Sergio Leone film, Once Upon a Time in the West. Gilligan is heavily influenced by westerns and Leone in general, and had potential Breaking Bad directors screen the first fifteen minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West as a primer on how the show should look and feel. Other classics such as Cool Hand Luke, The French Connection, and The Godfather (Parts I and II) leave their fingerprints on Breaking Bad — from quick allusions to entire character arcs. If you’re interested in binging another TV series with an antihero focus, try The Sopranos or The Shield, the latter of which has a carefully constructed narrative to satisfy the most nit-picky viewers. For a lighter look at an unlikely drug dealer, check out Showtime’s Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Nealon.

What do you like about Breaking Bad? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.

Tag Cloud

Song of Ice and Fire dark olympics CBS Toys History Amazon Prime Video popular cars comedies MCU Podcast Amazon pirates of the caribbean Nat Geo live event unscripted political drama psycho Teen 2015 spinoff 79th Golden Globes Awards Election ghosts Superheroes remakes WarnerMedia HBO Max blockbusters natural history Sundance Now Netflix king arthur cancelled television Winter TV Wes Anderson sitcom Box Office Paramount Network cats based on movie best Infographic Fox Searchlight Endgame The Academy IFC laika American Society of Cinematographers Discovery Channel debate sports rotten Sneak Peek New York Comic Con FX on Hulu Tumblr Nominations Tarantino 90s scorecard golden globes biography stand-up comedy cooking italian Crunchyroll nbcuniversal heist movie mutant revenge mockumentary marvel cinematic universe Disney Channel 2017 reboot adenture Calendar Marathons suspense TV TLC concert Family festival Disney spider-verse football TCA Video Games scene in color The Purge screenings Star Trek cancelled TV series CNN Pirates critics Country new york sopranos universal monsters obituary VOD telelvision venice diversity 24 frames Writers Guild of America Paramount Summer Comic-Con@Home 2021 theme song japan LGBT jurassic park sag awards CMT batman critic resources Hear Us Out war YouTube Television Critics Association First Reviews VH1 french crossover BET parents 99% A24 HBO Hulu art house game show comic books Lifetime Christmas movies Extras Peacock talk show docuseries elevated horror 2020 Comedy Central anime ViacomCBS Cannes Showtime Columbia Pictures saw Premiere Dates 73rd Emmy Awards Rock HBO Go Prime Video blockbuster children's TV green book spy thriller TCA 2017 PlayStation Martial Arts posters X-Men 2016 2021 golden globe awards casting Kids & Family Lucasfilm Broadway halloween cancelled TV shows emmy awards Universal Pictures Sony Pictures Fargo space high school Set visit reviews renewed TV shows Instagram Live tv talk supernatural young adult book Christmas series BET Awards Travel Channel Britbox science fiction Turner Classic Movies game of thrones south america Quiz international Creative Arts Emmys action-comedy strong female leads ABC Family rt labs TIFF rom-coms what to watch zombie australia Musical vampires streaming Marvel Studios comic book movies Exclusive Video leaderboard Trophy Talk CW Seed Ellie Kemper The Witch Brie Larson christmas movies slashers Classic Film marvel comics slasher Animation rt archives Spike A&E Dark Horse Comics Sci-Fi ABC IMDb TV Schedule movies anthology Drama hist comiccon archives Thanksgiving YouTube Red adaptation IFC Films adventure transformers Comics on TV DGA 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Amazon Prime zero dark thirty TCA Awards Avengers fast and furious mcc Funimation lord of the rings RT21 dexter Cosplay documentary Nickelodeon HFPA Heroines directors Television Academy Best and Worst USA Network boxoffice cops MTV ratings Mary poppins ABC Signature WGN Mudbound trailers Black History Month Hallmark 72 Emmy Awards indiana jones Trivia Pop TV Emmy Nominations superman Lionsgate feel good serial killer black werewolf monster movies Shondaland Disney streaming service NBA Amazon Studios Freeform stop motion a nightmare on elm street canceled TV shows BBC America Cartoon Network hispanic heritage month teaser NBC Epix TBS binge dceu king kong docudrama razzies Ovation composers jamie lee curtis spanish language hollywood Crackle nature screen actors guild james bond foreign 007 scary Food Network cancelled asian-american E3 Acorn TV witnail vs. First Look Disney Plus quibi Certified Fresh medical drama TCA Winter 2020 Alien Marvel Television hispanic new star wars movies USA godzilla 2019 indie Vudu Apple TV Plus japanese dramedy worst DC streaming service basketball The Arrangement Red Carpet kong zombies halloween tv movie Pixar Warner Bros. Shudder Esquire VICE Spectrum Originals Action OneApp Awards toronto MSNBC cinemax The CW Musicals Star Wars Starz Opinion mission: impossible El Rey spanish documentaries Turner gangster chucky Disney+ Disney Plus discovery 45 Fall TV kids Universal dogs Pacific Islander worst movies Stephen King San Diego Comic-Con Sundance period drama politics streaming movies twilight Pet Sematary SXSW TruTV latino franchise comic disaster Arrowverse Pride Month Ghostbusters black comedy E! GoT Black Mirror singing competition Tokyo Olympics Film Festival know your critic TV Land TV One Adult Swim cartoon boxing trophy Reality miniseries blaxploitation SundanceTV 2018 Reality Competition Polls and Games Academy Awards APB GLAAD travel TV movies Elton John Mary Tyler Moore hidden camera cults finale free movies genre Chernobyl women Image Comics TV renewals live action thriller Sundance TV Awards Tour Biopics Legendary DirecTV The Walking Dead ID FXX book adaptation 4/20 The Walt Disney Company Chilling Adventures of Sabrina LGBTQ Western canceled Tomatazos GIFs psychological thriller romance aliens stoner versus Mindy Kaling independent Music Valentine's Day police drama Character Guide romantic comedy Logo Rom-Com TNT 1990s Superheroe OWN Holiday video on demand Photos FX Netflix Christmas movies joker Trailer Winners award winner mob Masterpiece Tubi BBC Film aapi President biopic CBS All Access sequel Anna Paquin Super Bowl YouTube Premium Watching Series 20th Century Fox Women's History Month Tags: Comedy robots Countdown Comic Book Pop Spring TV Year in Review classics all-time Bravo video Hallmark Christmas movies NYCC BAFTA National Geographic doctor who Marvel Binge Guide festivals Mystery AMC Plus rt labs critics edition films comics ITV Paramount Plus technology ESPN dragons social media DC Universe crime drama Holidays Interview Rocketman toy story superhero prank comic book movie kaiju Apple TV+ DC Comics television crime thriller news legend Syfy crime Rocky AMC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 93rd Oscars See It Skip It Emmys Lifetime name the review spain YA scary movies 21st Century Fox Fox News Mary Poppins Returns PBS Captain marvel Walt Disney Pictures Apple true crime sequels wonder woman child's play Oscars justice league royal family facebook 71st Emmy Awards deadpool harry potter breaking bad RT History SDCC criterion FOX target PaleyFest Baby Yoda die hard spider-man TCM historical drama Horror Hollywood Foreign Press Association Grammys Comedy rotten movies we love richard e. Grant animated nfl dreamworks BBC One Neflix Fantasy dc fresh new zealand satire