You Should Watch... Breaking Bad

This is a sentence you've likely heard many times over the past few months - "Dude, Breaking Bad is amazing, why aren't you watching?" I'm here to make it one time more! 

Last night, the finale of Breaking Bad aired. Five years have passed and we've had five seasons come to our screens, delivering the story of Walter H. White and his transformation from mild mannered family man to methamphetamine cook extraordinaire. It's a modern day Shakespeare tragedy wrapped up in the guise of a crime drama. I'm certain it'll go down as one of the masterpieces of television. You've heard this kind of praise levied at Breaking Bad before and you'll undoubtedly hear it again, but it's so deserved.

The premise is simple, but layered - a chemistry teacher is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and after being taken on a ride-a-long with his Drug Enforcement Agent brother-in-law to a makeshift meth lab, he's inspired to cook meth in a bid to provide for his family. Tensions arise when Walter partners with Jesse Pinkman, and when the pair encounter numerous hardened criminals, like the crazed Tuco, the chilling yet stoic Salamanca cousins and perhaps the series' most famous villain, the calm and composed yet deviously brilliant Gustavo Fring.

Bryan Cranston as Walter White.
I, like many others, was skeptical. Breaking Bad is wanting Bryan Cranston, a man best known for playing loveable buffoon Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, to be taken seriously as a drug lord? Nah, it's not happening. Give it a few episodes though, and once he convenes with Jesse Pinkman, portrayed with a brutal vulnerability throughout the shoe by Aaron Paul, and you begin to realise that Cranston might be the best cast role in television history. The raw emotion he displays - be it anger, loss, pain or frustration - is breathtaking. He's both imposing yet meek simultaneously. The man fully deserves each and every Emmy he has won for his portrayal of Walter White. 

To say much of the story would be to ruin the many surprises that lie in wait for a new viewer. Needless to say though, in a series about drugs and deceit there are very few occasions where things stagnate. Yes, there are lulls but they build and lead to a more explosive episode than the ones preceding it. An episode in the final season had me speechless for the full forty-five minutes it was on my screen. Don't look anything up - let the surprises shock you and the twists stun you.

A show this good doesn't rely on its storytelling nor its acting alone. This is an immaculately crafted television series - the music is always well selected and stylistic (This track plays over an AMAZING montage scene - avoid the comments though, spoilers ahoy!) and the cinematography is simply unparalleled on television. If you'll allow me to gush now, I'm going to post several examples of why Breaking Bad brought on a real passion for cinematography in me.

It's just absolutely gorgeous camera work - Vince Gilligan and his team know how to get the most out of the New Mexico setting. The camera is even used as a storytelling tool for eagle-eyed fans - subtle callbacks to previous seasons or clever use of imagery in the scene composition is prevalent throughout the show. 

Yes, it has its bad episodes - but objectively, looking at Breaking Bad from beginning to end, I can't recommend it more. It's perfection on the small screen, and it's an utter travesty if you haven't at least tried to let it in to your life by now.

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